Re-Publication of and Update to 2017 Statement on Charlottesville Violence
August 9, 2019
In August 2017, Trillium issued a statement regarding the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia when white supremacists held rallies which turned violent and horrified millions of Americans. Trillium’s statement expressed deep concern with President Donald Trump’s reaction to the violence, conveying moral outrage and also sharing our observations about the economic importance of diversity and inclusion.
Two years later we are confronted by attacks in El Paso, Texas, Gilroy, California, and Dayton, Ohio which are being investigated as domestic terrorism and/or inspired by violent ideologies. We continue to stand by the opinions expressed in our 2017 statement (republished below): the economic and political leaders of the United States must take this opportunity to re-commit themselves to the principles of equality and our shared work to further these basic human rights.
But today we find ourselves in the midst of a national discourse which is bringing an additional focus on both the role of social media platforms and on our national unwillingness to restrict access to or require effective licenses for high volume-capable weapons. We share the concern that access to these weapons and to social media platforms acts as an accelerant and amplifier of this violent and aggressive behavior. The private sector has a special responsibility over these two issues as businesses are responsible for creating and providing access to these products.
So once again it is incumbent on American political and business leadership to make clear with both statement and deed that we will do what is within our power to fight bigotry and intolerance – and to support the bedrock principle of U.S. economic and public policy that everyone, no matter their race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion, age, or ethnicity, has an equal opportunity to work and contribute to the economic health of our nation.
As Trillium continues to work tirelessly to achieve those goals, we commend the countless other businesses and individuals doing the same and so much more every day.
August 21, 2017
Statement Regarding the Violence in Charlottesville, Virginia
Trillium Asset Management is profoundly concerned with President Donald Trump’s reaction to the violence perpetrated by neo-Nazis, KKK, and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia recently. Our concerns are at their core moral in nature. As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” These fundamental principles are at the heart of who we are.
But Trillium is also an investment firm and with that comes a unique perspective that we can add to the national conversation. We believe, that a bedrock principle of U.S. economic and business policy must be that everyone, no matter their race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion, age, or ethnicity, has an equal opportunity to work and contribute to the economic health of our nation. It is the very definition of the American dream: that anyone should be able to make it in America.
However, the President’s statements on Saturday the 12th and Tuesday the 15th reveal something dark and we fear deeply damaging to our country and our economy. The President has failed to express convincingly that racists are entirely to blame for the violence in Charlottesville. He has left Americans wondering how it is even conceivable that he is drawing a moral equivalence between the neo-Nazis who marched that weekend and the counter protestors who opposed them. This has left Muslims, Latinos, African Americans, Jews, LGBT people, women, and immigrants (to name just few) with the searing thought that the President may think they are not deserving of basic human respect.
We take encouragement from the expressions of disapproval by political leaders of both parties, by the leadership of our armed services, on the streets of Boston, and by a flood of corporate CEOs this past week. They have demonstrated emphatically the importance of strong moral clarity against prejudice. They have given voice to our common humanity and the need for equality and dignity.
But there is also a practical side to their disapprobation of bigotry and intolerance. Any leader of any successful organization knows that to achieve its full potential there is no room for white supremacy, anti-Semitism, homophobia, xenophobia, or any of their ilk. Whether it is a business, a platoon, a team, a neighborhood, or a whole economy, the enterprise cannot reach its potential when it is corrupted by hate. The evidence is strong that inclusiveness and equality lead to more successful outcomes. As investors, we know from our own experience as well as from financial studies that companies with strong diversity policies and practices perform better than those without.
For these reasons, we urge the economic and political leaders of the United States to take this opportunity to re-commit themselves to the principles of equality and our shared work to further these basic human rights. Since our inception 35 years ago, Trillium has worked tirelessly to support inclusion and diversity in our economy. Through our shareholder advocacy we have helped dozens of companies adopt LGBT non-discrimination policies, improve their employee diversity disclosures and policies, and increase the diversity of their boards and senior leadership. We have accomplished much, but it is painfully obvious that there is much more to do.