‘A small measure of justice’: GM, Facebook respond to the Derek Chauvin guilty verdicts

Corporate America, which almost universally declared in statements that “Black lives matter” in the wake of the death of George Floyd, called the conviction Tuesday of the officer who killed him a step forward— but said much more was needed to achieve widespread justice.

A jury found Derek Chauvin, 45, guilty of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for the killing of Floyd last May. The murder, in which Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds, sparked protests across the U.S. and a broader social reckoning on police violence and systemic racism.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra said the verdicts were “a step in the fight.”   

“While the guilty verdicts in the trial seeking justice for George Floyd are a step in the fight against bias and injustice, we must remain determined to drive meaningful, deliberate change on a broad scale,” Barra wrote on Twitter. “The past several weeks have been a painful and poignant reminder of the need to support reform and condemn injustice…”

While the guilty verdicts in the trial seeking justice for George Floyd are a step in the fight against bias and injustice, we must remain determined to drive meaningful, deliberate change on a broad scale.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote about the verdict on his Facebook page.

“Right now I’m thinking of George Floyd, his family and those who knew him. I hope this verdict brings some measure of comfort to them, and to everyone who can’t help but see themselves in his story,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We stand in solidarity with you, knowing that this is part of a bigger struggle against racism and injustice.

Right now I'm thinking of George Floyd, his family and those who knew him. I hope this verdict brings some measure of…

Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, expressed similar sentiments.

“A small measure of justice was done today. But real justice would be for George Floyd to be alive and in the arms of his family,” she wrote. “This brutal tragedy is one page in the much larger story of systemic racism, oppression, and injustice in our country.”

Facebook logo at Nasdaq on March 29, 2018, in New York City. (Photo: Richard Drew/AP)

Kathryn Finney, CEO and founder of Genius Guild, who has helped Black entrepreneurs build companies and raise capital from investors, said the verdict was “historically meaningful” to the Black community but not enough.

She said she created the Genius Guild to address how capitalism has been used against Black communities. 

“The racism that still exists in America is unacceptable and it’s beyond time that we rethink, restructure and rebuild many of the racist institutions in America,” she said. “We are building a world we want to see and live in. To create a world where everyone wins, everyone must own the problem. Everyone must be part of the solution.”

Institutions ranging from J.P. Morgan Chase to Mastercard to Target have launched or announced initiatives to challenge systemic racism, including investing in Black-owned businesses and broader diversity goals. But critics have said that some companies have done little to back up their words with concrete action.  

Chauvin found guilty and nation reacts: Derek Chauvin guilty verdict sparks reactions across the nation

What were the charges?: What are the charges against Derek Chauvin? Here’s what the jury is considering for the death of George Floyd.

Despite calls by investors to make mostly white boards of directors more diverse, almost two-thirds of the 3,000 largest publicly traded companies in the U.S. don’t have a Black board member, according to data analyzed by BoardProspects and shared exclusively with USA TODAY last month.

But momentum began to build in the wake of Floyd’s death. Of the more than 420 new Black board appointments between 2019 and 2020, 62% were made in the seven months after Floyd died.

Derek Chauvin is lead out of the courtroom in handcuffs after a guilty verdict is read during the trial of Derek Chauvin of the death of George Floyd at the courthouse in Minneapolis on April 20, 2021. (Photo: Court TV/Handout, USA TODAY NETWORK )

And this month, hundreds of business leaders and companies released a statement decrying the wave of state laws being pushed or passed to suppress voting rights.

Contributing: Nathan Bomey, Jessica Guynn  

Follow Charisse Jones on Twitter @charissejones

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