As the death of George Floyd reignites ever-present racial disparities and tensions in America, brands’ role as social institutions in the COVID-19 era has taken on an urgent new dimension.
A patchwork national response to coronavirus has already thrust companies into leadership roles as they work to help their employees and customers respond to COVID-19.
GPG research has shown Americans are looking to brands more than ever to respond to the crisis in a socially responsible way. The crisis has brought policy issues that impact employers and employees— like paid leave, childcare and health coverage— to the fore.
Now, as protests against historic, systemic racism and brutality persist, pressure mounts on brands to show their support for communities of color not just through their statements and checkbooks but through meaningful change from within, underscored on CNN today by Martin Luther King, III.
- American corporate mainstays like Citi, Starbucks, Nordstrom, and Target have publicly supported the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Entertainment companies like Disney, ViacomCBS, Warner Bros, A24, BET, FX Networks, AMC, MGM Studios, Paramount, and Universal Pictures each issued supportive statements; Starz further encouraged people to support and donate to the NAACP and Color of Change.
- Technology behemoths Amazon, Netflix, Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter all issued comments in support of the movement as Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout in protest of the tech giant’s handling of the president’s use of the platform.
Businesses large and small must navigate this moment thoughtfully and responsibly.
As racial, socioeconomic and political fissures threaten to divide us during a health crisis that demands national unity, companies must meet this moment with the lessons of the past, the urgency of the present and the scrutiny of the future.