By Kevin Jarussi, Director of Business Development at Ethos
"George Floyd Mattered" reads the headline on the April 21st home page of several newspapers.
Since the #blacklivesmatter movement began in 2013 in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s 2012 shooting and the acquittal of the policeman who murdered him, it can be argued that the United States is coming to terms with the systemic racial inequality of its past and present.
While this awareness is positive, there is significant disagreement and division over how to move forward to achieve racial justice and equality. For example, several state governments have passed legislation that restricts voting rights; many have decried this legislation as exacerbating racial inequality.
Corporate responses to the legislation and to the racial justice movement in general have ranged from openly opposed to silent. Apple, Amazon, Starbucks and Levi's, for example, quickly signed an open letter of opposition, while Walmart, Home Depot, Uber, Delta and Coca Cola did not (though Delta and Coca-Cola later made statements voicing their opposition).
At Ethos, racial equality is one of the many causes we include in our mission to help people align their investments with the causes important to them. Some of the metrics Ethos tracks in this category include public statements and actions supporting racial justice, response to police violence, employee ratings on diversity, discrimination-related fines, and more.
We curate data from more than 250 sources to rate companies' impact on racial equality and other causes. We believe in using third party sources as they can often provide an objective lens on company impact. Some of the independent organizations we use to measure racial justice include As You Sow, Violation Tracker, and Corporate Human Rights Benchmark.
Some of the signatory companies that openly opposed restrictive voting rights in the New York Times article which also rate highly on Ethos include Salesforce, MasterCard, PayPal, Netflix, Starbucks, and Apple. These companies all score a 93 out of 100 or higher for Racial Justice on Ethos (rated relative to other companies).
As an early-stage company with the ability to adapt quickly, Ethos recently added a metric that rates large US companies based on their public support for equal access to voting.
We believe that social issues ought to be an integral part of everyone's investment strategy, and that it is possible to both invest conscientiously and make money. Many analyses have shown that responsible investing has performed as well or better than the market in recent years.
At Ethos, we believe that 2020 served as a call-to-action and we are ready to help advisors and other parties as they approach their investment strategies from a more values-based standpoint. Click here to learn more.
Kevin Jarussi is Director of Business Development at Ethos. He has a Master of Arts in Sustainability from the American University of Paris.