About the Civil Rights Audit Report

What leaders are saying about Laura Murphy's report:

The Rationale for and Key Elements of a Business Civil Rights Audit *

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."

"We are living through multiple compounding crises from climate to health to refugee, and all are accelerated through the positions, actions and reactions of the nation's business leaders. This report is more urgent than ever." – John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice

"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." – Rashad Robinson, president of Color Of Change

"Improving the lives of and strengthening the dignity of workers happens at the workplace, and it also happens through all of the countless ways corporations make an impact on civic, social and political life. The only way we can make a society that works for all of us is to hold businesses' feet to the fire and a meaningful civil rights audits is an important first step." – Renaye Manley, international representative for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

"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." – Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb

"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." – Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF)

"In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, corporate America scrambled to address the ongoing legacy of systemic racial discrimination. Corporate boards and executives increasingly commissioned civil rights audits to make tangible changes in policies, products and services that made their companies more equitable and inclusive. Holding the private sector to account is one of the most pressing civil rights and civil liberties issues of our time. This report lays the groundwork for companies to assess equity and create a plan to ensure that all people, no matter their background, can work and live with dignity. Corporations that pay lip service in this moment of racial reckoning – rather than change course and make substantive commitments – will ultimately be held to account by customers and the broader public." – Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

"Corporate accountability is just one step toward addressing the most challenging economic realities that people of color face in this country. Meaningful civil rights audits can create that pathway toward a world where everyone can work with dignity. With the guiding principles in this report, we can continue working to create a more inclusive economy to end racial inequality." – Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP

"For more than five decades, UnidosUS has worked to open the door to opportunity for the Latino community. When businesses use the guidelines in this civil rights audit report to address the systemic barriers in place for Latinos and other people of color, we can work together to help Latino families to achieve economic stability and build wealth while addressing racial and ethnic inequities." – Janet Murguía, president and CEO UnidosUS

"Even if we completely reform public policy, we will not fully address systemic bias without leadership in the private sector. The revenues of large companies alone represent over two-thirds of our nation's gross domestic product, and corporate America plays a critical role in shaping employment, entrepreneurship, wealth, and equity in goods and services. The road map that Laura has designed for a credible independent audit gives companies a blueprint to take action and go beyond supportive statements and charitable contributions." – Spencer Overton, president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

"The National Urban League believes that companies need policies and practices that undo harm to communities of color to ensure that we all can work and live with dignity. The time is now to make that change. Civil rights audits are a tool companies can use that will bring us closer to a future where our employers and the businesses we frequent are less discriminatory and more inclusive." – Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League

"We must continue to work to improve the lives of Black women, our families and our communities, which includes providing the tools to lift people out of poverty. Corporations must serve as good corporate citizens and must be accountable when they cause harm; and should actively and swiftly make repairs. The civil rights audit principles outlined in this report will move us toward a future where Black women can have more economic opportunities, live with dignity, respect and pride." – Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, and convener of Black Women's Roundtable

"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, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. "Unfortunately, far too many companies merely pay lip service to addressing problems of discrimination and inequity. That is why a civil rights audit is such a powerful tool for change — if it is done correctly. The audit demands more structure and accountability for the good work companies are seeking to lead." – Wade Henderson, interim president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund

"Corporate America has a huge role in the protection and enforcement of the civil rights protecting, to assure that people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, every other marginalized group are free from the harms of discrimination. It is not enough to announce new marketing initiatives aimed at Black audiences. Companies also have to look inward to make sure that their products, policies and practices and services are not hurting our communities. Civil rights audits are a way that companies can do this much-needed work. Maintaining our rights and freedoms is a shared responsibility for all of us, including the businesses we support with our spending and our tax dollars." – Johnnetta Betsch Cole, national chair and seventh president of the National Council of Negro Women

"The continued prevalence of racial discrimination, both subtle and overt, in businesses across the country is astounding in the twenty-first century United States, especially in light of the substantial innovation and increased efficiency in other elements of our economy. Latinos now comprise one-fifth of the U.S. workforce and a similar percentage of consumers; those proportions will only increase in future years. At MALDEF, we therefore view the elimination of discrimination in all aspects of U.S. business as essential to our nation's progress. Civil rights audits, by placing direct and concentrated research and analysis on these issues – as is done in other elements of business – are essential tools to reaching the transparent, inclusive, and thriving economic sector that will permit our powerful nation to continue to thrive." – Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)

"Investors are concerned about both shareholder value and social impact. As a result, they're increasingly asking companies to assess and report about corporate performance on critical issues such as civil rights and racial equity. This report provides an enormously valuable roadmap for senior management and boards of directors of leading companies to begin to investigate policies and practices that affect billions of people all around the world. Smart companies will take note and take action." – Michael Connor, executive director of Open MIC

"Companies across corporate America have made commitments to implement more equitable practices, and now we need to make good on those commitments and show the proof. This report gives us the roadmap to do just that. Businesses play a crucial role in ensuring that everyone can work with dignity in family-sustaining jobs that pay fair wages and include opportunities for advancement. This report helps us all learn how to get there." – Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and managing director of General Catalyst; former chairman and CEO of American Express

"Companies seeking to advance equity within their programs must do so systematically, with commitment from the very top. This report is a valuable guide for how companies can move beyond words into meaningful action." – Alexandra Reeve Givens, president and CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology

"Many corporations have begun to speak with more than their dollars. In some cases, they are leveraging their reputational capital on critical racial justice issues, such as voting rights and police accountability. Conducting high-quality civil rights audits can help these and other corporations bring their leadership full-circle, by fully living their values internally and externally. These principles for Civil Rights audits will be a significant resource in helping to catalyze that evolution." – Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

"This is a moment like no other – not because of the billions in stated corporate commitments to racial justice, not because of the increased global attention toward racial injustice and other pressing social issues; this is a historic moment because people of color and our allies across the nation are choosing enmasse to no longer accept racism and structural oppression as the status quo. We know that meaningful, long-term change in the private sector – among corporations and investors alike – must start with a deep understanding of where we are right now and the private sector's role in perpetuating inequities. A civil rights audit, with a deep focus on racial equity in line with Laura's robust recommendations, is the right starting place. Conducted in alignment with Laura's report, the civil rights audit is a powerful tool toward rebuilding trust with workers and communities of color. Though trust is deeply broken right now, we know the private sector can rebuild it in partnership with civil society." – Mahlet Getachew, managing director of corporate racial equity, PolicyLink

* Published October 27, 2021 by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights