George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was murdered on May 25, 2020, by a White police officer. Video footage captured the murder, fueling a racial justice movement across the U.S. and the globe. Many companies spoke up, acknowledging the toll of structural racism and pledging to work towards a more racially just society.
Food and beverage companies are among the businesses that made racial justice pledges. They are well-positioned to contribute to policy, system, and environment changes to further racial justice – within their companies, in the local communities in which they operate, in the food sector, and in the broader social and political sphere. However, two years later, the extent to which these companies have acted to advance racial justice is uncertain.
We assessed the actions of 25 leading U.S. food and beverage companies to advance racial justice in response to the murder of George Floyd. This webpage describes what we found and how companies can increase their racial justice impact. A full report of our findings and a summary are available:
Corporate Racial Justice Actions
Companies committed to and took a wide variety of actions. We classified these actions into the following categories under three spheres of influence:
Spheres of racial justice action categories
- Most companies made a public statement in response to the murder of George Floyd and undertook some actions to address racial injustice. These companies completed 27% to 88% of announced actions.
- The number of racial justice actions completed or in progress varied substantially across companies, suggesting that companies with fewer actions could do more to catch up with their peers.
Number and progress status of actions by company
- All companies could take more actions - no company had actions in all categories. No company completed all its actions.
- Solely relying on counts of actions has limitations because the types of racial justice actions were diverse with respect to resources invested and their likely impacts on racial justice.
- Actions likely to have a larger impact on racial justice tended to be less frequent. Among the companies that did act in these high impact categories, the proportion of activities that were completed was lower relative to other categories.
- The most common actions had less potential for impact.
- While most companies made monetary donations to support community or societal racial justice efforts and organizations, the donations comprised a very small proportion of company annual revenue (< 0.001% to 0.57%).
- Publicly available information about the progress status of racial justice activities was difficult to find.
Many companies made commitments to advance racial justice and equity and have begun taking action. While this is a good start, companies must do more. They must:
- Expand the scope of their actions and sustain them. Companies should prioritize high impact actions such as supporting public policies that address structural factors that sustain racism and taking a stand against racist policies.
- Refrain from activities that increase racial injustice – these actions undermine their efforts to advance racial equity. Racialized marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages is a good example. Supporting racist policies and political candidates is another.
- Align their business practices with advancing racial equity. This includes implementing internal anti-racist policies, processes, and systems that advance racial equity and justice, conducting racial equity audits and sharing findings publicly, adopting healthy and just marketing practices, and producing healthier products.
- Devote more of their annual revenues to supporting community-based racial justice efforts and working with Black businesses and farmers.
- Be transparent and publicly accountable for the full spectrum of their actions - positive and negative - that affect racial justice and report on their actions using meaningful, standardized accountability metrics.
Click on a company logo to see a snapshot of its racial justice actions: