The chorus of voices in unison with #StopHateForProfit swells; Facebook does damage control amidst falling shares.
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It has not been a great week for Facebook, but it’s not the only target of the Anti-Defamation League’s insurgent #StopHateForProfit social media campaign. Twitter has likewise taken its lumps as corporations — either out of conscience or calculation — ranging from consumer-goods giant Unilever to workout-apparel manufacturers Lululemon and ice-cream iconoclasts Ben & Jerry’s (see “Related” link below) beg off placing ads on social media sites until they take a definitive zero-tolerance stand against entities and individuals who use the platforms as megaphones for hateful and often falsified rhetoric.
But Facebook has been the primary target, perhaps because Twitter has been viewed as a bit more assertive in moderating its more provocative content and exiling abusers of late. Or, possibly, because Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg continues to function as an avatar for the tech world’s historically laissez-faire approach to policing open forums.
This past weekend was a bit of a bloodbath for the social media giants, as the likes of Starbucks (which has had to do a bit of its own image repair after returning a massive government-stimulus loan), Coca-Cola and global spirits titan Diageo all announced pauses on their social media ad-spend. (Though, somewhat significantly, none of those three companies chose to align themselves explicitly with #StopHateForProfit.)
Related: Ben & Jerry’s Joins Facebook and Instagram Boycott, Pushes for Transgender Rights
On Saturday, Facebook took the rare and prompt action of rolling out new warning labels and guidelines concerning hate speech and misinformation, although — like Twitter — it maintains that even inflammatory posts from figures like President Trump are newsworthy.
Alas, that hasn’t helped the company’s valuation from taking a hit. Per Marketwatch, Facebook shares fell 2 percent ahead of open trading this morning (Twitter’s were down nearly 2.5 percent).
Here is a complete list of companies specifically participating in #StopHateForProfit.
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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Some of my friends in law enforcement don’t want to use the word. But let’s call it what it is: Murder. That’s what Derek Chauvin did to Mr. Floyd, in my opinion.
“He had drugs in his system.” “He was passing fake $20 bills.” “He had a criminal record.”
These have been some of the justifications repeated by a few of my law-enforcement friends and colleagues about former officer Chauvin’s heinous act, but there is no justification, so let’s acknowledge it for what it is. And once we acknowledge it, then it is our responsibility to take action. All of us must play a role in the solutions, including — or perhaps especially — our business community.
Approximately a dozen years ago, my former wife and I co-founded the nonprofit organization Dedication To Community, also known as D2C, to address some of today’s most pressing societal issues, including the tensions that exist between law enforcement and the communities served. Through education and guidance in the areas of policy reform and communications strategies, we are uniquely positioned to effect change, and this is a matter of life and death.
The D2C family trains law-enforcement officers to serve better, not to police better. I don’t use the word “police” as a verb. It’s not in my vocabulary. We concentrate our curricula on cultural awareness, implicit bias, de-escalation and wellness —vital information for those in authority. We also educate and engage with communities. Along with law enforcement, we work with members of society to position them for success; to educate them about how to interact with law enforcement in successful ways.
And that’s why so many people called me. Because I have committed my life to these issues; dedicated my existence to building relationships and facilitating solutions for individuals and organizations across this nation and beyond. I wrote a book about these issues and, after all, I am also an entrepreneur. Place a problem in front of me and, with all humility, I will find a way to solve it.
Related: It Doesn’t Take a Rocket Scientist to Solve the Racism Problem in Business
The avalanche of phone calls started seven days after Memorial Day on June 1, 2020. Seven days after the death of George Floyd. I received these calls non-stop from family members, friends, colleagues and associates who asked me two simple questions, all with the same focus: “What do I do?” and “what are the solutions?”
In my mind, the answer is very clear, and education is the key. That is, to start, lead us and no longer accept silence as a part of the equation. When you see injustice, call it out and make folks accountable. Refrain from complicitous behavior and, most of all, embrace the responsibility of being the one who heads up this movement.
Additionally, ensure that you are listening beautifully to those who are screaming for justice. Learn from them and understand the reason for their perspectives. They are in pain.
Lastly, acknowledge our history and why we are embroiled in these current circumstances, and take action with vulnerability and courage so that relationships can be built and restored — relationships that must be constructed with trust as a foundation.
This answer is not rocket science. As my former Boston College football teammate Blake Galvin often says, “It’s simple, but it ain’t easy.” The remedies for our societal ills are not going to work by just throwing money at the problem. Yes, money is needed by those who are doing the work, but money alone will not cure this disease of dysfunction. There must be sustainable long-term strategies in place that reveal the hearts of our society members. Sameness must be acknowledged while, at the same time, differences are embraced.
So here is my call to action for our business leaders: Educate yourselves and those whom you are leading. Step into your vulnerability with purpose and be deliberate about your selected course of action. Tell your stories of challenges and struggle. You will connect to those with whom you might not fully understand, those with whom you might see stark differences. These relationships will determine the destiny of our society.
This is a long-game approach, and band-aids are no longer acceptable, as they are certainly not effective solutions for our divisions. In order to live as one community, we must love as one, too.
M. Quentin Williams is an attorney, author and in-demand international speaker. His background as a former FBI agent and former federal prosecutor, as well as being a former sports executive, has been invaluable as he assists the business community to understand the societal landscape during these times of heightened unrest. Quentin’s book, A Survival Guide: How NOT To Get KILLED By The Police, has been critically acclaimed by law enforcement and communities alike, as a guide for all generations.
Two years ago, the NAACP partnered with Impact Shares—a nonprofit fund manager specializing in socially conscious, ESG-focused exchange-traded funds (ETFs)—to develop a novel investment product.
While the ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing movement was already gaining a foothold in the world of finance, both organizations noticed a notable gap—funds that target, and reward, companies with policies promoting diversity and racial equality.
“Impact Shares was looking for an organization that could help frame the ‘S’ [in ESG] for them, and we’d been doing corporate scorecards for 25 years: looking at data, scoring and ranking companies, and providing that information to our constituency,” Owens tells Fortune.
The result was the Impact Shares NAACP Minority Empowerment ETF (ticker: NACP), which tracks nearly 200 large- and mid-cap companies on the strength of metrics measuring their commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equality. That includes everything from their employee hiring, pay, and promotion practices, to the nature of their products, services, and supply chains.
“As it relates to issues impacting people of color, there is no better sector specialist than the NAACP,” according to Impact Shares CEO Ethan Powell. While the NAACP helped develop the criteria on which the ETF is based, the screening and composition of the fund itself is handled by Morningstar and its ESG research subsidiary, Sustainalytics. Meanwhile, Impact Shares donates net proceeds from the ETF back to the NAACP, to help fund the organization’s social advocacy work.
The goal for investors, Powell says, is to unlock what he terms “social alpha,” or “superior social outcomes relative to your area of concern.” With the killing of George Floyd having unleashed a wave of historic protests across the U.S. and put a spotlight on the injustices faced by people of color, the ETF and its concerns are more relevant than ever.
“Now, two years later, here we are in this moment in this country, and it’s an interesting time to raise the questions that this fund was created to raise,” Owens says.
Today, the fund has more than $4 million in net assets under management, with large-cap stock holdings across all 11 industry sectors tracked by the S&P 500. Among its biggest holdings include Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Alphabet, Johnson & Johnson, and JPMorgan Chase. As of Thursday afternoon, the ETF was up 1% this year to date.
While some of its holdings aren’t the first companies that come to mind when one thinks of policies and practices promoting social justice, Owens notes that these corporate behemoths are often the ones with the scale and resources to pursue the initiatives with the most impact. Powell adds that they’re also the ones that “prioritize reporting” and transparency of such practices.
“What we found is that these larger companies are represented in the fund because they have diverted resources to working on these issues,” he says. The ETF has “opened the door” for the NAACP to “engage those companies in conversations we’ve not been engaged with in the past, Owens adds. Meanwhile, other companies not included in the fund “now want to be included” and have reached out to the NAACP to open a dialogue, he says.
Myriad companies reacted to Floyd’s death, and the subsequent protests, by releasing solidarity statements and announcing initiatives championing diversity and equality. As such, it would appear that the ranks of those that would qualify for the ETF could well grow in the coming years.
In fact, Powell believes that this moment in American history will prompt “changes that hopefully render some of the [ETF’s] screens obsolete because they are ubiquitous.” At that point, the fund will “continue to raise the bar”—revising its screens and setting higher standards for those included.
“Our hope is that some of the basic policies and practices that you would think would already exist in corporate America are no longer a point of differentiation,” he says.
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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
We live in truly tumultuous times. Social distancing, stock-market roller coasters and the suspension of business operations nationwide have created an uncertain atmosphere, to say the least. Meanwhile, climate change, income inequality, racial unrest and other issues continue to manifest anxiety, fear and even anger for many.
While these problems can seem overwhelming, history has repeatedly taught us that there is no reason to lose hope. People have consistently found solutions to the world’s biggest problems — and entrepreneurs are often at the forefront.
In many ways, today’s technology and resources give entrepreneurs greater opportunity than ever before to help confront our societal ills, daunting though they may seem. Here are just few examples how.
Our global society is more interconnected than ever before. Even before 2020, global markets were concerned about how factory shutdowns in China would impact the global supply chain. However, increased globalization also creates new collaborative opportunities that give entrepreneurs access to greater resources for addressing major problems.
For example, a case study from the World Economic Forum noted how food manufacturer Africa Improved Foods wanted to address malnourishment in Rwanda. Local stakeholders received input from public and private-sector leaders in the United Kingdom, Brazil and the Netherlands to determine how best to produce fortified products that would address the country’s malnourishment issues.
Global collaborations allow entrepreneurs to get input from other cultures and communities in ways that would have been impossible only a few decades ago.
Related: Why Collaboration Is Essential to Entrepreneurship
By leveraging the resources others have developed or coming up with their own tech products, entrepreneurs can create new solutions that more efficiently solve common problems.
This became abundantly clear during a recent email conversation with Damian Merlak, co-founder of NGEN. “Even something as seemingly simple as app development can improve the flexibility, scalability and redundancy of a problem-solving solution,” he explained, continuing that, “Real-time data collection, remote access, more efficient energy production — all of these can serve as a jumping-off point for developing more effective solutions that reach a wider number of people. Finding new ways to use the technology that is available can unlock amazing innovations.”
Many of today’s tech solutions don’t just help entrepreneurs innovate with new products and services — they also make it easier to keep a business running smoothly. Cutting costs and automating mundane tasks will leave you with more time to focus your efforts on important problem-solving initiatives.
We live in a time when an increasing number of people want to know that the companies they do business with are having a positive impact on the world. As just one example, a 2015 Nielsen study found that brands with “a demonstrated commitment to sustainability” grew 4 percent year over year, compared to less than 1 percent growth for their competitors.
This reflects consumers’ increased desire to buy from brands that have a positive impact on society. Entrepreneurs are innovators, and as such, brands in practically every niche have been able to find ways to make a difference.
For example, a BCG report notes how Mars Incorporated partnered with nonprofit agencies to certify small-scale cocoa farmers to improve human rights and the environmental impact of cocoa farming. Not what you’d expect from a candy bar maker, but proof that all brands can find ways to make an impact for good.
While today’s resources and opportunities can certainly help entrepreneurs solve the world’s biggest challenges, nothing compares to the unique mindset shared by all entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are born problem-solvers, always looking for new and better ways to do things.
Writing for the Classy blog, Tori Callahan explains, “The most successful social entrepreneurs challenge themselves to be open-minded and approach problems with a filter that is void of established tendencies and stigmas. They are unconventional thinkers, not limited by the constraints of the systems in place, but instead challenge those systems with fresh ideas and techniques.”
Callahan goes on to note that most entrepreneurs seek dramatic — not incremental — change. This mindset that embraces big goals and is willing to learn from failure is not for the faint-hearted. But it is what defines a successful entrepreneur. It is the key to using all available resources (or coming up with completely new tools) to drive innovative solutions to all kinds of problems.
Related: Small Businesses That Consider Social Impact Will See One to Their Bottom Line
As bleak as present circumstances can feel, this is no time for entrepreneurs to give up. You may be asked to “hunker down” physically, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep working toward meaningful solutions that will improve our world as a whole. And few are better equipped for the challenge than an entrepreneur.