Founded in 2007, Laura Murphy & Associates, LLC is a results-oriented firm based in Washington, DC that provides high level, strategic consulting services to businesses and non-profits. Our successful interdisciplinary work relies on strong leadership, in-depth knowledge of civil rights and civil liberties, expertise in government policy processes, communications skills, research capacity, and coalition-building prowess. More recently, the firm has helped corporations substantively respond to their social justice and civil rights challenges. Clients benefit from Laura Murphy & Associates’ influential networks in the private sector, non-profit community, media and government. We are a minority and women-owned firm that successfully brings people together to solve complex problems. We are committed to including diverse viewpoints from across the ideological and political spectrums, a value that has been a hallmark of our work.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021
Press Contact: Briahnna Brown

Civil Rights Leaders and Lead Auditor for Airbnb and Facebook Embrace Audit Standards for Companies

First of its kind report delineates methods for companies to conduct civil rights audits ahead of shareholder resolution season

Washington, D.C. — Today, in partnership with The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Ford Foundation, Color Of Change, NAACP, UnidosUS, the ACLU, Open MIC, and numerous other organizations, Laura W. Murphy, a nationally recognized civil rights and social justice leader, published a groundbreaking report detailing principles and steps for Corporate America to use to conduct effective and authentic civil rights audits that combat discrimination and match their consumers’ expectations of equitable treatment. The report was informed by Murphy's experience conducting civil rights audits for Airbnb and Facebook.

In the last year and a half, some two-thirds of the companies in the S&P 500 have made supportive statements about the need for racial justice and more inclusive practices. Shareholders and legislators are increasingly calling on companies to take practical and transparent steps toward civil rights, not just promises. Yet, until this first-of-its kind report entitled The Rationale for and Key Elements of a Business Civil Rights Audit, companies haven’t had a standardized way to conduct civil rights audits. The report responds to concerns from the business and civil rights communities about how to conduct civil rights audits authentically and effectively.

"This report could not come at a more pivotal moment, as the current public health and economic crises, attacks on our democracy, and horrific killings of Black people at the hands of police officers expose our nation’s legacy of systemic racism and inequality. These crises are also forcing companies to confront their role in perpetuating harm,” said Wade Henderson, Interim President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. "Unfortunately, far too many companies make hollow promises to address problems of discrimination and inequity. But a properly designed and conducted audit provides clarity and confidence — to the public, as well as to the company and its shareholders — that the efforts the company is making will have the desired impact in the areas of greatest concern to the civil rights community."

"Civil rights audits are not only powerful tools to hold corporate America accountable to the values of justice, diversity and equality, they are also good for business," said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. "This report lays down concrete steps for the nation’s most successful businesses to become better businesses, to bend away from tokenism and performative responses and towards bold, meaningful civil rights commitments that customers and the country at large are calling for."

"Of her work at Airbnb, cofounder and CEO, Brian Chesky, said, "The civil rights audit that Laura Murphy led helped us build tools to fight discrimination and promote inclusion at our company and in our global community of Hosts and Guests. This work made us stronger. Our work is nowhere near done, but the civil rights audit was a critical first step and I hope corporations who want to build more equitable and inclusive companies will use this powerful tool."

Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said "Civil rights laws and practices are a critical part of the democratic infrastructure of our country. Embracing the guarantees of equality and meaningful opportunity in the workplace strengthens our democracy and our most treasured values. This report encourages the business community to take an affirmative and active role in fulfilling its commitment to civil rights by offering clear guidance and a framework for business compliance with civil rights laws and practices. At its core, this impressive report is a detailed and long-overdue roadmap that will allow American businesses to demonstrate leadership and unequivocal support for civil rights values."

Published ahead of shareholder resolution season, and on the heels of calls for greater transparency from Facebook in this month’s Senate hearing, this report provides a roadmap for business leaders to address and fix the harms experienced by communities of color, women, LGBTQIA+ people, people who have immigrated to the U.S. and so many others impacted by their companies. The ten principles of an effective civil rights audit, and the business case for these audits provided in this report can help American companies create tangible and mutually beneficial changes in business practices called for by the civil rights community.

"The difference between a merely interesting audit and a truly actionable one is the difference between giving mere lip service to change and actually providing the means to pursue it. Very few people have the right technical expertise or demonstrate the level of rigor and truth-telling that Laura does, yet that is exactly what's required to deliver a racial justice audit capable of setting new and implementable standards for changing business as usual across a large corporation, and reducing the harm a corporation causes for Black people and all people in society. Laura is building on her record of no-nonsense work that she began with audits of Airbnb and Facebook, and her contributions continue to set the right standards for this work — outcomes-driven standards — across the field," said Rashad Robinson, president, Color Of Change.

"We must make the most of this moment to address the many forms of discrimination that hinder the full participation of all groups in this economy and in our society at large. That is why the commitment of business leaders to this process is essential to building a future where everyone can thrive with dignity,” said Laura Murphy. “I hope that this report will help businesses and stakeholders confront the challenges resulting from systemic racism and other structural forms of discrimination by identifying real problems and implementing thoughtful solutions. We cannot wish it, pledge it, talk it or tweet it into existence. We have to roll up our sleeves to have the difficult conversations and do the hard work that civil rights audits entail to make tangible changes in our behaviors, in our services, in our workplaces, and in our products if we are going to meet today’s civil rights challenges."

About Laura Murphy

Laura is president of Laura Murphy & Associates, and is also a seasoned civil rights and civil liberties leader who has used her advocacy talents to help business enterprises eliminate discriminatory policies, practices and products in their operations. In consultation with over 30 civil rights organizations, Ms. Murphy has constructed a set of core components of civil rights audits as well as the business case for those approaches. The report is endorsed by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and was made possible by the financial support of the Ford Foundation.