More workers put the squeeze on their companies to support Black Lives Matter

Employees at Adidas, Microsoft, and other big companies are turning up the heat.


June 10, 2020

In the fallout from the death of George Floyd, brands across the world spoke out against racial inequity. Many of them pledged 7-figure donations to social justice causes.

But in some cases, their workers are sending a message: You need to do more.

The pressure’s on Microsoft

As OneZero reported, 250+ of the tech giant’s employees backed a letter calling on company execs to support the demands of Black Lives Matter Seattle, and to end Microsoft’s contracts with law-enforcement agencies.

Last week, Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, said the company was starting out by donating $1.5m to groups focused on advancing racial equity.

Business Insider noted that it’s not clear what relationship Microsoft has with the Seattle Police Department, but companies’ ties to law enforcement are a flashpoint right now:

  • Slack deleted a blog post describing how a local police force used its platform after employees complained about it.
  • Community activists have called on Facebook to stop contributing money to policing in the city of Menlo Park, home of Facebook HQ.
  • IBM’s CEO said the company is getting out of facial recognition, but Protocol reported that the announcement doesn’t mean IBM is cutting ties with law enforcement.

A call for change is coming from inside the house

This week, The Wall Street Journal reported on several other companies that are facing heat from their own workers, including Estée Lauder, Nike, and Adidas.

The Journal pointed out that there are no black members on Adidas’ 16-person board of directors, or among its 6-person executive team.

But the company is committing to big changes: It said Tuesday that it’s investing $20m in organizations that support black communities. And it will fill at least 30% of new positions in the US at Adidas and Reebok “with black and Latinx people.”

At Estée Lauder, top execs sent a memo to employees outlining plans to increase donations and to hire more black workers. The company is aiming to increase their ranks to reach parity with the black share of the US population within 5 years.

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