This May, after about a year had passed since the murder of George Floyd sparked a national reckoning with systemic racism in the United States, we decided to check in with some of the pledges and promises our country’s largest companies made.

We were brokenhearted to read a study by Creative Investments Research that found businesses have actually donated less than one percent of the money promised. Unfortunately, pinpointing specific companies who broke their promises proved virtually impossible.

But there were a handful of headlines that grabbed our attention; notably, our country’s biggest financial institutions receiving proposals for racial equity audits from external organizations–and almost all of them urging their shareholders to vote “no” on these proposals.

To supplement our Instagram campaign, we’ve assembled a list of sources that substantiate every single outrageous piece of information in our posts. We hope you explore them and draw your own conclusions about the messages our financial institutions are sending, the billions of dollars they have pledged in support of racial equity, and how those factors align with their internal practices—and the industry-wide resistance to transparency.

*Some of these articles are blocked by paywalls, and some news sites limit the number of articles you can view for free. We tried to stick to free sources, and we are sorry if you are unable to view any of this information.

STEP 1>>

What did you say last year when the police murder of George Floyd sparked demand for accountability? How much money did you pledge, and where?

CNBC: Companies are making bold promises about greater diversity, but there’s a long way to go

Financial Times: Are CEOs living up to the pledges they made after George Floyd’s murder? (paywall)

“My Message On Inclusion” by David M. Solomon, Chairman & CEO of Goldman Sachs

Bank of America Announces $1 Billion/4-Year Commitment to Support Economic Opportunity Initiatives

JPMorgan Chase Our Path Forward: A $30 billion commitment to advance racial equity

Forbes: Citi Pledges $1 Billion To Narrow The Racial Wealth Gap, Confront Wealth Inequality

The Daily Beast: These Companies Have the Most Hypocritical Black Lives Matter Messaging Who’s following up on corporate pledges of diversity?

STEP 2>>

What was your response to proposals for external diversity, equity & inclusion audits? Does that align with your company’s statements about DEI?

MarketWatch: Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan urge shareholders to vote against racial-equity audits

Reuters: Berkshire shareholders reject climate change, diversity proposals that Buffett opposed

Bloomberg: Wells Fargo, BofA Push Back Against Race-Audit Proposals

Forbes: Goldman Sachs And JPMorgan Look To Avoid Racial Equity Audits

Harvard Business Review: Why Goldman Sachs’s Push for Diversity Is Unlikely to Drive Real Change

Bloomberg: BlackRock Breaks Wall Street Ranks With Planned Racial Audit

CBS News: From Berkshire Hathaway to Silicon Valley, little to show for diversity pledges, critics say

STEP 3>>

Are you really walking the talk?

  • What do your employees say?
  • How equitable are your lending practices?
  • Where is your money going?


Bloomberg: Buffett’s ‘Tone Deaf’ Annual Letter Skirts Major Controversies

Business Insider: Hundreds of billionaires pledged to give their fortunes away through Warren Buffett and Bill Gates’ Giving Pledge, but very little money may be actually helping people

Reuters: Goldman Sachs executive’s email making plea for racial equality goes viral at firm

Wall Street Journal: If You Sell a House These Days, the Buyer Might Be a [BlackRock] Pension Fund

Institutional Investor: At BlackRock, New Accusations of Discrimination and Harassment Are Met With Contrition

STEP 4>>

Let’s keep them accountable and be better

The Corporate Racial Equity Tracker and resources from Just Capital

The Black Dollar Index (BDI)

Business Standard: Empty promises: Diversity pledges won’t change workplaces, here’s what will

Harvard Business Review: U.S. Businesses Must Take Meaningful Action Against Racism

B Corporation: 7 Examples of How a Company Can Take Action to Become an Anti-Racist Business

CNBC: Companies are speaking out against racism, but here’s what it really looks like to lead an anti-racist organization

Open letter to asset managers from racial justice leaders

The Anti-Racist Small Business Pledge

Bonus for Illinois locals>>

Stripped-down version of H.B. 3394 signed by Pritzker in 2019 requires publicly traded companies headquartered in Illinois to report on the diversity of their board membership and how they identify and appoint diverse candidates to their boards.

Follow-up: The results of a study on the first year’s data by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Bonus for the tech industry/startup culture>>

The Verge: Inside The All-hands Meeting That Led To A Third Of Basecamp Employees Quitting