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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Workers — especially millennials and Gen Zers — are paying close attention to the words and actions of their employers during national crises, such as the protests following the killing of George Floyd in police custody.

Why it matters: American companies have an enormous amount of wealth and influence that they can put toward effecting change, and CEOs have the potential to fill the leadership vacuum left by government inaction. More and more rank-and-file employees expect their bosses to do something with that money and power.

But while a slew of big firms and individual CEOs have put out statements of support for the black community, few have said what they're going to do about it.

  • "I see hundreds of brands posting the same image [of a Black Lives Matter symbol], but this issue has been around for hundreds of years, and a lot of these companies have been around for hundreds of years, too," says Andrew Sampson, founder and CEO of the app Rainway. "What are you going to do more than just post a tweet?"
  • "I find it baffling that these companies with market caps of billions are saying they'll match employee donations," they say.

By the numbers: The lack of meaningful action is exacerbated by the abysmally low representation of black leaders and workers in corporate America.

  • Black professionals held 3.3% of executive or senior leadership roles in 2018, according to data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission cited by CNN.
  • There are just four black CEOs at Fortune 500 companies today, per CNN.
  • Black workers make up about 3% of Silicon Valley's workforce, reports Fortune.
  • Just 1% of venture-backed founders in the last five years were black, according to Crunchbase.

The big picture: Not only is putting money, hiring efforts and advocacy behind their statements the right thing to do, it's also good business.

  • "Values are important, and they are a recruiting tool, but it's more than just 'What are your values?' It's how you live your values," says Lars Schmidt, founder of Amplify, an HR consulting firm.
  • "There is absolutely an expectation that the company speak up and take action, especially on social justice issues," a Deloitte employee tells me. "Our leadership explicitly cites inclusivity and diversity as some of our highest values, and younger employees in particular expect that those come to fruition."
  • And it matters for firms' customers, too. 58% of millennials, 55% of Gen Xers and 51% of baby boomers think it’s important that brands they support invest in causes they care about, according to a report from InMoment, which helps firms improve customer and employee experiences.

The bottom line: "Job seekers are savvy," Schmidt says. When young, talented workers are deciding which job offer to accept, they'll be looking at how companies handled these protests and how they responded to the coronavirus pandemic.

Go deeper

There aren't enough jobs for America's unemployed

Expand chart
Data: Indeed; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The number of unemployed Americans vastly outnumbers the number of open jobs in every single state.

Why it matters: Even though we've come back from the worst unemployment numbers, the pandemic's economic toll keeps turning furloughs into job losses — and pushing millions of people out of the workforce entirely.

21 mins ago - World

HRW: Over 100 former Afghan security members dead or missing under Taliban rule

Members of the Taliban movement patrol Kabul's airport in September. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

The Taliban have "killed or forcibly disappeared" over 100 former members of Afghanistan's security forces since the group took power in August, a Human Rights Watch report published Tuesday found.

Why it matters: It means former military members and officials from the ousted government, activists and other Taliban critics are facing peril amid executions driven by revenge — despite Taliban promises of an "amnesty" with no retributions, notes the New York Times, which first reported the news.

1 hour ago - World

Barbados becomes a republic, replacing U.K. queen with president

Combination images of Dame Sandra Mason, president of Barbados, and Britain's Prince Charles at her swearing-in ceremony in Bridgetown, Barbados, late Monday.

Barbados officially became a republic at midnight local time after Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as the Caribbean nation's first president in a ceremony attended by the United Kingdom's Prince Charles.

Why it matters: Mason replaced Britain's Queen Elizabeth as head of state Tuesday — removing the country's final remaining colonial tie to the U.K. almost 400 years after the first British ships arrived in Barbados.