By Laura W. Murphy
President, Laura Murphy & Associates
In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd in 2020, Americans started asking corporations what they were going to do to help eliminate structural racism and other barriers to equal opportunity. Companies are hearing the urgent call for justice from millennials, who make up the future of the workforce and politicians and legislative bodies that regulate businesses. Since 2020, some two-thirds of the largest corporations in the United States made various supportive statements about the need for racial justice and more inclusive practices. They ranged from vague and non-committal statements to multibillion-dollar efforts that aspire to eliminate systemic racism.
Now, an increasingly vocal and diverse coalition of civil rights leaders and members of Congress is asking for proof of those commitments. This coalition wants corporations to end racist and discriminatory practices and to facilitate the participation of people of color and marginalized groups in the economic, social, and civic structures that will make our economy flourish. For example, are companies using biased algorithms for hiring in a way that exclude people of color, women and older workers? Are they unfairly disapproving mortgages to qualified purchasers? Are they denying delivery services to low income neighborhoods? Are they using facial recognition software that cannot tell one brown-skinned person from another? One way to identify and resolve these kinds of problems is through a civil rights audit.