AT&T INC. | Racial Equity Audit at AT&T Inc.

Status
AGM passed
AGM date
Previous AGM date
Resolution details
Company ticker
T
Resolution ask
Report on or disclose
ESG theme
  • Social
ESG sub-theme
  • Diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI)
Type of vote
Shareholder proposal
Filer type
Shareholder
Company sector
Telecom
Company HQ country
United States
Resolved clause
RESOLVED: Shareholders urge the Board of Directors to commission a third-party, independent racial equity audit analyzing AT&T Inc.’s impacts on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Input from racial justice and civil rights organizations and employees, temporary vendors, and contractors should be considered in determining specific matters to be analyzed. A report on the audit, prepared at a reasonable cost and omitting confidential and proprietary information, should be published on AT&T’s website.
Whereas clause
WHEREAS: The harmful and often deadly impacts of systemic racism on BIPOC communities are a major focus of policymakers, media, and the public. AT&T has made investments in and statements of solidarity with communities of color. However, some of AT&T’s business practices suggest a racial equity audit could help mitigate reputational, regulatory, legal, and human capital risk. 
AT&T’s commitment to racial justice has been called into question because of some of its practices. For instance, Salon noted that “Corporations like AT&T, Target and Starbucks have embraced racial-justice rhetoric, while funneling money to police.” Salon cited AT&T’s support for police foundations and the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA) as examples of this disconnect, given growing evidence that many police departments demonstrate not only implicit bias but outright racism.[1] AT&T also faced scrutiny over its support for candidates promoting voter suppression efforts, which disproportionately impact BIPOC populations.[2] 
In addition, concerns have been raised about the delivery of AT&T’s internet services to communities of color. Research by The Markup found that AT&T frequently provides a significantly lower quality of service in predominantly BIPOC communities for the same cost as the much better service provided in predominantly white communities.[3] Lack of access to reliable internet services can impact education, employment, and banking opportunities. As the ACLU has observed, “Adults living without broadband face significant barriers in accessing employment, education, and other necessities.”[4]
AT&T has faced other controversies because of practices that disproportionately impact BIPOC communities including a work stoppage related to its treatment of Black workers.[5]  Furthermore, AT&T has allegedly retaliated against employees who flagged issues of discrimination.[6] In September 2023, for instance, a former AT&T employee filed a complaint in the Southern District Court of Ohio alleging that she was fired after reporting a racist death threat.[7] 
Allowing racial inequities to persist is deeply harmful to BIPOC communities, is bad for diversified investors given the high cost of racism to the economy, and could expose the company to significant risks. It is also simply the wrong thing to do.
Executives at peer companies have affirmed the usefulness of racial equity audits, as have civil rights organizations. Leading companies are increasingly recognizing the importance of undertaking independent racial equity audits. Citigroup, Blackrock, Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Alphabet, and Apple are among the many companies that have conducted or committed to conduct independent racial equity audits. We urge AT&T to join them.

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