Calvert CEO says ending racism is a responsibility of businesses

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John Streur, who runs one of the oldest responsible-investing firms, said ending racism in America is a responsibility of corporations and that his company will press them to disclose information about their racial diversity.

“Corporations must recognize that their current efforts to promote their core values, and diversity and inclusion programs, fall far short of what is needed today,” said Streur, chief executive officer of Eaton Vance’s $21.3 billion responsible-investment unit, Calvert Research and Management.

Streur made his comments as demonstrations spread across the U.S., and in Europe, during the past week as protesters spoke out against the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. Looting and violence also have occurred, prompting clashes with police and the imposition of curfews in major cities.

Companies aren’t required by law to publicly disclose the racial makeup of their board and management. But businesses should make public data where employees have self-identified so investors know where they stand on diversity, Streur said in a June 1 blog post, adding that Calvert will call on companies to disclose pay equity across race and gender.

Calvert had worked to oppose South Africa’s apartheid regime in the 1980s, and more recently has pushed corporate boards to establish greater diversity. Streur concedes that his firm hasn’t done enough.

“I recognize that much more needs to be done,” he said. “More open and forceful action is required by investors and by corporate leaders and boards.”

Streur also stressed that that environmental, social and governance investors have been slow to take action in addressing human rights violations and drive change. Streur said businesses must speak out and make clear to local, state and federal governments that they need to address police brutality against black people.

“Companies enjoy the benefits of law enforcement and must act to assure that police forces behave responsibly,” he wrote. “It is time for investors to recognize this issue for what it is, a system-wide failure that our government is complicit in fostering and that violates the Constitutional rights and human rights of black people,” Streur said. “And let us call it for what it is, racism.”

Bloomberg News