We must hold corporations accountable for their roles in structural racism and racial violence.
MSI Integrity condemns the police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, David McAtee, Manuel Ellis, Sean Monterrosa, and the ongoing police militarism, white racial violence, and structural racism in the United States. We stand in solidarity with protestors taking to the streets to fight for racial justice, at a time when COVID-19’s disproportionally lethal impact on Black communities has further exposed entrenched racial inequality.
As people who are working to ensure the private sector respects and protects human rights and the environment—to ensure that corporations are held accountable for any human rights abuses they commit, and provide remediation for any harm caused—we feel it is important to shine a light on the role of the private sector in structural racism and police violence. The public-private partnerships that have militarized the police; the role of technology companies in enabling data sharing and surveillance by state security forces; corporate media’s obscuring of Black suffering; the discrimination and inequity that persist within boardrooms and wage rates; the predatory housing practices that deepen systemic inequality in Black communities; and the unpaid prison labor that benefits corporations while negatively impacting Black people who are disproportionately represented in prison populations. These are just a few ways that corporate conduct perpetuates racial injustices. We must hold accountable those corporations that continue these harmful practices, many of which are issuing statements of support that fail to acknowledge and address their own roles in abuse.
Law enforcement accountability is a start, but it is not enough. Deep structural inequity necessitates deep structural transformation across societal, legal, economic, and political structures. As an organization, we are soon to begin focusing on a radical reimagining of the corporation, the building block of the economy, in order to achieve transformational change. The nation’s most recent uprisings in response to police violence remind us of the importance of centering racial justice in this work.
How exactly will we do that? We do not know. That requires further learning, listening, analysis, and reflection. We need to work in solidarity and across movements. We need to listen to and employ more Black voices. We need to ask why so few corporations have been held accountable for their role in perpetuating structural racism, and how the corporate accountability or business and human rights community can change that. We will not have answers immediately, but we are committed to developing them. As a starting point, we are adjusting our schedules to enable staff and summer fellows the time to analyze the deep-rooted connections between corporate conduct and racial injustice, as well as to participate in protests or engage in relevant actions.
This is a crucial moment to drive action. The business and human rights community must stand in solidarity with movements for racial justice and find ways to tackle this issue, while centering the perspectives and experiences of those who are most affected.