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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

More MF Chiefs Speak Up As BLM Protests Continue

News summary by MFWire's editors

Mutual fund industry chiefs continue to speak up about racism as protests and riots continue across the country in the wake of the death last week of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was being arrested.

Abigail Pierrepont Johnson
FMR (dba Fidelity Investments)
Chair, President, CEO
Abby Johnson, chairman and CEO of Boston-based FRM (dba Fidelity Investments), posted on Monday about being "heartbroken and angry that racial discrimination and inequality continue to plague our society."

"These senseless deaths and tragedies, based on racism and hatred, must come to an end," Johnson wrote.

Johnson also promised to, "in the coming days and weeks, ...have more to communicate about concrete and specific actions."

Yesterday, at a virtual Bloomberg conference, Jenny Johnson, CEO of San Mateo, California-based Franklin Resources (dba Franklin Templeton), addressed the company's last week of a white employee after a Central Park confrontation (caught on video) with a black birdwatcher.

"The facts were undisputed in this case, and we were able to make a quick decision," Johnson reportedly said at the virtual conference.

"We can't control everything, but we can control the environment in which we operate our companies," Johnson reportedly said. "And it starts with leaders ensuring that discrimination is not tolerated and that we create an environment that absolutely feels inclusive for all employees."

David Hunt, CEO of Newark, New Jersey-based Prudential's PGIM, also reportedly spoke at the virtual Bloomberg event, saying that business leaders "need to publicly condemn racism and prejudice in every form" and that "silence cannot be an option."

John Streur, president and CEO Eaton Vance's Calvert Research and Management (a Washington, D.C.-based ESG shop) wrote yesterday that, "ending racism in America is a responsibility of corporations," and he called on companies to speak out against police brutality.

"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 Constitutional rights and human rights of black people," Streur wrote. "Although Calvert has been a leader in dealing with inequality and pushing corporate boards to establish greater diversity, we have not done enough."

"Much more needs to be done," Streur added. "As a first and immediate step, Calvert will call on companies to provide the information required to accurately assess their racial diversity."

Yesterday Andrew Arnott, president and CEO of Manulife's John Hancock Investments (based in Boston), wrote about tragedy challenging "our belief in our collective ability to rise above."

"We must resist the doubts we feel and renew our beliefs," Arnott continued:
I know these are just words and that having faith in progress over the long term is a lifelong challenge that calls for action. That said, we must use our voice, educate where it's needed, refuse to be passive, and we must hold others and ourselves accountable. At the same time, we must continue to live with humility and learn from others, to broader our perspective, and remain open to being inspired by passionate leaders who're working so hard to make change happen in the pursuit of social justice.

Also yesterday, Cooper Abbott, president and chairman of Raymond James' Carillon Tower Advisors (based in St. Petersburg, Florida), shared three lines from Martin Luther King, Jr.:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

Edited by: Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

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