Tuesday was, for many, a day to take a beat. Social media feeds filled up with blank black boxes. Cities tightened curfews. Americans grappled with their grief and anger while Wall Street carried on seemingly none the wiser. Stick with us, though: this rundown of the day’s essential business news has a nugget of happiness tucked in near the end.
In this painful moment in history, we’re seeing companies that might have previously been silent on Black Lives Matter suddenly, unequivocally, rallying around the cause of racial justice. But hashtags and donations are not enough to address the systemic inequalities within their own industries.
True diversity has to be reflected at the top. And right now, there are only four black CEOs who run Fortune 500 companies in America. (Here’s how those four are addressing George Floyd’s death.)
Corporate America’s been talking about black representation for decades. But that’s just about all it’s done. It remains to be seen whether their progressive words will finally translate into action within their own walls.
TWITTER’S RUBICON MOMENT
One of the most striking examples of companies facing a social justice reckoning is Twitter.
For years, the company took a neutral stance to the content shared on its platform to avoid angering the right or the left. The same goes for rival Facebook.
That inaction from both platforms has clearly benefited Donald Trump. But Twitter, almost overnight, decided to get its hands dirty. In other words, it started actually enforcing its own policies when they are violated by the president.
The takeaway? Twitter has crossed the Rubicon. If before Twitter was placating the powerful, it’s now committed to calling them out. If it backs off, Twitter will have invited a war with Trump for nothing. CNN Business’ Brian Fung and Seth Fiegerman dive into the implications for the company here.
DAMAGE CONTROL ACROSS TOWN
Meanwhile at still-hands-off-please-stop-asking-us-to-fact-check Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg appears to be spending a lot of time whack-a-moling controversies.
A day after many of his staff openly rebelled in a virtual walkout, Zuckerberg attempted something like an explanation for his inaction against President Trump’s posts. As he spoke, employees fired off real-time feedback reminding him of promises he made to remove content that calls for violence or that could lead to imminent physical harm. One Facebook employee told CNN Business they found Zuckerberg’s answers lacking, and said the CEO risked alienating people.
“It’s crystal clear today that leadership refuses to stand with us,” Brandon Dail, an engineer at Facebook, tweeted during the town hall.
Also Tuesday: Civil rights groups condemned Zuckerberg’s inaction, saying he’s setting “a very dangerous precedent.”
IS THE STOCK MARKET OK?
We say it so often we might as well get it tattooed on our arms: The stock market is not the economy. AND YET. Lately its seems the stock market is not even in the same universe. Comparing the economy and the stock market isn’t so much apples to oranges anymore, it’s apples to … flying cars.
The economy is pulling straight D-minuses this year. (Just look at the latest revised CBO report on how much the pandemic is going to cost us over the next decade. Spoiler alert: About 8 trillion bucks.)
But the stock market? She’s on the dean’s list, elbowing her way to valedictorian, coasting her way to some nice school. Harvard, probably.
We can’t help but wonder: Is the stock market, like, OK? Did aliens come down and infiltrate stock traders’ brains? (Note to self: new screenplay idea.) Because even though — say it with me now — the stock market is not the economy, the two used to at least acknowledge each others’ presence.
AS PROMISED, SOME GOOD NEWS
Let’s #ThrowbackTuesday to around this time in 2015, when the mood in the US was it bit more joyful because the US Supreme Court voted to allow gay marriage across this great land. That was a good day, remember?
Five years later, we’ve got a read on just how good that decision was for state and local economies in the US. A new study estimates that the gay wedding industry boosted economies by $3.8 billion and supported at least 45,000 jobs. More on how that study was conducted here.