Since February, businesses around the world have published statements of support and thank you letters to teachers, healthcare, and other essential workers during the COVID-19 crisis. We’ve also heard from quieter brands with smaller marketing presences convey similar sentiments, letting customers know they’re taking action to protect their employees during uncertain times.
However, corporate communications have taken a drastic shift over the past week, shedding light on a different national crisis: the death of George Floyd. As protests break out across the country, businesses are changing the tune of a coronavirus-dominated landscape to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement and underserved communities during a delicate time in history.
On Instagram, consumers and brands alike have been showcasing support through their stories and posts for #blackouttuesday. Here’s how some financial services companies have responded to the situation:
Blackrock CEO Larry Fink took to LinkedIn and published a piece on May 30, sharing the effects that racial injustice has had on company culture following the aftershocks of COVID-19. He encourages readers to “talk to each other and cultive honest, open relationships and friendships” and vows to “develop resources to help you engage in productive conversation and to take meaningful action.” Fink expresses the importance of supporting communities of color and those affected by racial bias. He promises to share more commentary this week.
Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon published a “Message on Inclusion” via LinkedIn, sharing a transcript of a voice message shared with employees last week. Solomon’s note speaks against racism, shares support for peaceful protests, and calls out violence. This message conveys great concern for those who are “struggling to manage their daily lives during the strain of the pandemic.” This was posted by the company handle across various social platforms but not shared on the corporate website or in a press release.
The investing app publicly pledged $500,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in response to George Floyd’s killing and subsequent protests. Robinhood made the announcement on LinkedIn and Twitter, pinning the tweet to the top of its page on June 1. The organization’s co-founders and co-CEOs Baiju Bhatt and Vladimir Tenev also retweeted Robinhood’s Tweet from their personal accounts.
Betterment’s CEO and founder Jon Stein sent a lengthy and heart-felt email to the app’s users, saying:
“We all are accountable for the state of our country, and it’s our responsibility to acknowledge and address pervasive racism. My ask, particularly of those of us who are white and exist in a place of privilege: Pay attention to the significant events going on now. Educate yourself and others. Show your support for equality. Take action.”
The organization is also matching all employee donations, with Stein noting that he’s personally given to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Color of Change, and the Equal Justice Initiative. Stein and Betterment also reiterated the announcement on Twitter.
The Japanese conglomerate announced a $100 Million fund to invest in entrepreneurs of color in response to racial tensions throughout the country, according to an internal memo from SoftBank’s COO Marcelo Claure.
“The Opportunity Growth Fund will be the biggest fund providing capital to black Americans and people of color,” Claure wrote in the letter to employees, adding, “we have to put money behind it, set plans, and hold ourselves accountable.”
Softbank also operates a Vision Fund of $100 billion, which invests $100 million at minimum into its portfolio companies.
We’ll continue to keep an eye on how brands are responding to the social climate across the country, and update this post accordingly.