Corporate America addresses the Chauvin verdict
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Good morning. David Meyer here in Berlin, filling in for Alan.
Derek Chauvin was yesterday convicted of George Floyd’s murder. The outcome of the former Minneapolis police officer’s trial was always going to elicit some comment from American industry, and statements have indeed rolled in. What shall we make of them?
After the verdict was announced, my colleague Geoff Colvin wrote a savvy guide to the path CEOs must navigate. He raised several significant points, including these: companies and CEOs generally don’t comment on verdicts; their constituents nonetheless expect them to speak out on societal issues; Chauvin may appeal; and “talk of healing or moving on could well backfire if it seems to suggest that the large-scale, long-term issues of racial equity that Floyd’s murder highlighted have somehow been resolved by the verdict.”
As it turned out, business leaders’ statements tended to acknowledge the ongoing battle against racism.
Cisco’s Chuck Robbins, who has previously spoken to Fortune about how strongly he and his company felt about Floyd’s death, tweeted that the verdict was a reminder “of why we fight for justice for all.”
Here’s Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: “Right now I’m thinking of George Floyd, his family and those who knew him. I hope this verdict brings some measure of comfort to them, and to everyone who can’t help but see themselves in his story. We stand in solidarity with you, knowing that this is part of a bigger struggle against racism and injustice.”
And General Motors’ Mary Barra: “While the guilty verdicts in the trial seeking justice for George Floyd are a step in the fight against bias and injustice, we must remain determined to drive meaningful, deliberate change on a broad scale.”
Microsoft president Brad Smith: “Today’s verdict is a step forward in acknowledging painful truths and for the continued cause of defeating racism and fighting discrimination. Our company remains committed to the continued path ahead.”
Salesforce tweeted: “Today’s verdict was a defining & important moment. We recognize this does not make up for so much loss and injustice experienced by the Black community. George Floyd should be alive today. The work continues. We will keep taking action for racial equality and a more just world.”
Meanwhile, Starbucks noted that “we still have work to do to address systemic racism and ensure everyone has an equal chance to succeed and thrive.”
Industry groups also talked about the need for further action.
Here’s Rick Wade, senior vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “There has been much attention paid to the trial and today marks a step towards healing. As a nation, we need to remain steadfast in our pursuit of equality of opportunity for Black Americans and other people of color.”
“Though today’s verdict is a step toward justice in this case,” said the Business Roundtable, “unarmed Black men and women continue to die in encounters with the police. To ensure true justice and healing, our country needs to take steps to address its long history of racial inequity in law enforcement.”
Do you think these statements met the moment? Let us know. More news below.
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This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.