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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Here's the new battleground for racial justice in corporate America: shareholder meetings currently underway.

Why it matters: Advocates see this year's proxy season as an ultimate test for corporations that made statements against systemic racism in the past year.

  • What's new: There's an unprecedented campaign to get shareholders to support racial audits of businesses. Companies — so far — are staving off the push in a number of high-profile fights.
  • How shareholders vote could push a company to hire an independent party that would comb through its business and determine if and how it perpetuates systemic racism.

Catch up quick: Annual meetings are where shareholders vote on key company decisions — think executive pay or new board members.

  • They are increasingly venues in which shareholders nudge companies on diversity and climate change.

Yes, but: Companies including J&J, Citi and Goldman Sachs recommended shareholders vote against the proposals — noting they are already taking steps on this front.

  • The companies won: A majority of investors voted against proposals requiring racial audits and more disclosures.
  • But a sizeable minority of investors have supported these issues — over a third, in the case of Citi and J&J.

What they're saying: "Your actions, through your proxy votes, will make it clear" whether firms are serious about shifting behavior, more than 100 racial justice leaders said in an open letter to asset managers — massive shareholders whose votes are powerful.

  • "Companies are making statements that they're doing things, but statements don't seem to be enough anymore," says Heidi Welsh, founder of Sustainable Investments Institute.

What to watch: Amazon and JPMorgan face votes on racial audits in coming weeks.

  • BlackRock said it would conduct its own racial equity audit. A shareholder proposal — which has since been withdrawn — called on the company to do so.

Go deeper

Go deeper

Misinformation is just one part of a vaccine trust problem

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 is the first major pandemic in the social media era — offering experts a rare opening to study the relationship between online misinformation and human behavior on a large scale.

Why it matters: As misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines runs rampant, researchers are trying to measure how much memes and messages with false information can alter someone's decision to get vaccinated.

36 mins ago - World

Israel's "change bloc" collapses, leaving Netanyahu in charge

Bennett (L) with Netanyahu in 2015. Photo: Gali Tibbon/AFP via Getty Images

In a dramatic shift that comes amid fighting in the Gaza strip and clashes between Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel, right-wing kingmaker Naftali Bennett has announced he will no longer seek an alternative government to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Why it matters: Bennett had been on the verge of a power-sharing deal with centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid that would have made him prime minister for two years until Lapid rotated into the job. Without Bennett, Lapid has no path to a majority, and Israel will almost certainly head for its fifth election since 2019 with Netanyahu still in his post.

CDC says fully vaccinated people don't have to wear masks indoors

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Erin Clark-Pool/Getty Images

The CDC announced in new guidance Thursday that anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, regardless of crowd size.

What they're saying: "If you are fully vaccinated, you are protected, and you can start doing the things that you stopped doing because of the pandemic," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky will say at a White House press briefing.

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