As Legal Case Against Officer Involved in Breonna Taylor Killing Moves Forward, Corporate America Continues to Confront History of Racism

Citi made a pledge, and Mars dropped its offensive Uncle Ben’s brand

When the summer of 2020 began, protests against racial injustice were erupting across the U.S. following the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Corporate America reacted with promises to strengthen commitments to racial equality. 

Now as the leaves change, the legal system weighed in on punishment for the police officers involved in one of those catalytic deaths. A grand jury yesterday indicted Brett Hankison, a former Louisville police officer, with “wanton endangerment” for recklessly firing shots into the homes of Taylor’s neighbors; no charges filed were related to her killing.

And the business world is still working out how to follow through on its promises. It was a busy day: 

Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf apologized for a June memo, reported on Tuesday by Reuters, in which Scharf said a “very limited” talent pool was the reason for the lack of Black employees at the bank. 4.1% of Wells Fargo’s senior workforce was Black in 2018, down from 8% in 2015. 

  • Scharf’s comment echoed past justifications for the financial industry’s abysmal track record with diversity, but critics argue it’s a cover-up for insufficient recruiting efforts. 

Elsewhere on Wall Street, Citi made a hefty pledge. It earmarked over $1 billion for initiatives that help close the U.S.’ racial wealth gap and provide economic resources for people of color. That means investments in Black-owned businesses, boosting credit access in communities of color, and helping increase Black homeownership. 

Cisco made a pledge of its own. The networking equipment company vowed to increase the number of Black employees in entry-level to manager positions by 25% in the next three years. Cisco has no Black people on its executive leadership team. 

And Mars dropped its offensive Uncle Ben’s brand. The food giant will rename the rice product Ben’s Original, which will retain the aspects of the brand not linked to racist stereotypes.

Via Morning Brew

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