- A new scorecard rating companies on their racial justice efforts and workplace equity disclosures credited Republic Services' and Waste Management's public acknowledgement of racism and pledges for change, but gave both companies overall low scores for not releasing specific metrics related to pay equity, promotions, recruitment and retention numbers broken down by race and gender.
- As You Sow (AYS), a social corporate responsibility nonprofit, put together the scorecard by assessing publicly available data on racial justice and workplace equity for companies in the S&P 500.
- AYS says it’s important for the general public to access this information in order to hold companies accountable for following through on promises to improve the workplace for people of color. Both Waste Management and Republic say they have been transparent about their ongoing diversity efforts.
Following the police killing of George Floyd in May 2020, many companies released statements supporting the Black community or calling for action to fight systemic racism. The AYS scorecard aims to measure whether these companies are actively working to “ensure that the statements of support for racial justice are translated into concrete actions that truly promote equity,” AYS stated in its announcement of the scorecard.
Racial justice rankings note the language used in corporate statements, tallying the times companies said specific phrases like “Black lives matter” or “systemic racism,” named victims of police violence, or said their CEOs accept responsibility for improving racial justice initiatives. The scorecard's diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) disclosure section tallies the data companies publish about pay equity, promotions, recruitment and retention numbers broken down by specific races and genders.
AYS considers the DEI data to be a more important indicator of a company’s desire to improve change than a press release or racial justice statement, said Meredith Benton, a workplace equity program manager who consulted on the scorecard project and is the founder of Whistle Stop Capital.
“Without releasing a retention rate of your diverse employees, it undermines confidence in programs and policies, and commitments these companies have made,” she said.
AYS compiled the report by finding the information on companies’ corporate websites, social media posts and endorsements of third-party letters of support. The scorecard shows whether a company has reported these metrics publicly, not whether it collects this information at all, said Benton.
The scorecard gave Republic and Waste Management low marks for not posting key DEI data, such as pay equity information, rates for promotions, recruitment and retention rates of workers who identify with the "diverse characteristics" of White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American or Others of any gender. When compared to all S&P 500 companies, Republic came in at 411 and Waste Management was ranked 315 in the racial justice category. In the DEI category, they came in at 209 and 257 respectively.
Google parent company Alphabet Inc. earned the highest score overall, meeting 61% of the AYS metrics. It ranked first of the 500 companies for factors such as detailed DEI data, calls for criminal justice reform, and a CEO who personally took responsibility for any racial disparities in the company, according to the scorecard. Intel came in second, meeting 56% of the metrics.
Though neither Waste Management nor Republic spoke directly to the scores, both companies responed in statements that diverse workforces are important to their business.
In 2020, Waste Management established an Inclusion, Equity and Diversity leadership council and set a goal to “achieve ethnic diversity in each segment of our workforce, with emphasis on leadership, that is greater than or equal to that of the U.S. workforce standards” by 2025. The company's website details what percentage of its workforce is male or female across all of its job categories, but does not yet include ethnic makeup.
Republic pointed to its Mission of Supporting an Inclusive Culture (MOSAIC) Council that works with the company's office of inclusion and diversity. “The composite strength we achieve through the individual ideas, experiences and backgrounds of our people is key to our success as a company,” Republic said in a statement. It also has resource groups for Black employees and for women.
The companies achieved some recognition for their racial justice metrics, specifically their statements following Floyd's death. Republic President Jon Van Ark’s statement directly mentioned George Floyd's name. Waste Management’s response, in which CEO Jim Fish stated that “a very ugly part of our past is still with us in our present,” was displayed prominently on the website, AYS said. Both companies also held discussions with staff about race issues and ways to improve as a company. Fish and Vander Ark also recently signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge, which aims to support more inclusive workplaces.
AYS said the companies could improve by being more detailed on supply chain diversification efforts, promotion and recruitment rates for diverse hires, and donations made toward racial justice efforts.
It's increasingly common for public companies to have environmental, social and corporate governance plans, but the "social" aspect can be one of the more complicated to quantify, even as it gains more attention after the protests in 2020 in response to Floyd's death. Several companies in the waste sector have acknowledged there is work to do, and say they are using evolving approaches to achieve racial justice goals.