Major corporations ‘fail to protect’ Jewish employees from rising anti-Semitism



Unilever Canada sign on their head office in Toronto, Canada. Credit: JHVEPhoto/Shutterstock.

Faygie Holt, Jewish News Syndicate

(JNS) Despite major corporations investing significant time and funds to address traditional gaps in “diversity, equity and inclusion” policies, many of them—most notably, Google, Unilever and Cigna—have fallen short when it comes to addressing the needs of Jewish employees.

That was the main finding of an Aug. 10 report from the organization Stop Antisemitism, which looked at 25 companies in the fields of health care, apparel, technology, retail and beauty, and rated them on three measures: corporate platform, allyship and internal diversity, equity and inclusion policies.

Out of the 25 companies, 17 received a rating of “D” or “F.” Only two companies, L’Oréal and American Eagle, received an “A” rating.

“Overall, the research shows that corporations have failed their Jewish employees,” concluded the report. “Corporations need to drastically revamp their corporate and DEI policies, and practice genuine allyship to protect their Jewish employees from rising anti-Semitism.”

In giving a failing grade to Unilever, Cigna and Google, the report noted that none of them include Jews or mention anti-Semitism as part of their commitment to diversity and equity.

Further, the report said, in the case of Google, it “does not hold employees accountable for making anti-Semitic statements,” a reference to the June incident where the head of the company’s leader for diversity strategy and research posted that Jews have “insatiable appetite for war and killing,” and yet was not fired. Instead, Kamau Bobb was reassigned within the company.

Unilever, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, has been in the news after the ice-cream company announced on July 19 that it will not sell its products in what it deems “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” referring to the West Bank and parts of Jerusalem. It was singled out in the report for using its platform “to stand against the Jewish state, rather than taking a stand against anti-Semitism.”

As for Cigna, the report said that the health-care company has “Enterprise Resource Groups for its diverse community of employees—there is no group for Jews.” It also had not made any statements or posts in solidarity with the Jewish community. Other health-care companies didn’t fare much better; United Healthcare, Anthem, Aetna and Humana all received a “D” grade.

“Jews comprise the largest bracket of religious hate crime victims year after year, according to FBI crime statistics, yet oftentimes the Jewish people are not seen as a persecuted group,” Liora Raz, Stop Antisemitism’s executive director, told JNS. “Anti-Semitic tropes portraying Jews as greedy, wealthy and controlling the economy have crept into corporate America, making us the ultimate ‘white privilege’ target. Diversity officers need to do a much better job of actually ‘seeing’ Jews and including us in their diversity practices and protocols.”

Working on improvements to make the grade

Among those getting a positive ranking was Facebook, which has been criticized—most recently by the Anti-Defamation League—for not doing enough to combat hate on its platform. The report, however, found the situation to be changing.

“Facebook, unlike many of the other corporate giants featured, acknowledged Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021 and the ignorance young people have about the Holocaust,” said Raz. “Also, in August 2020, Facebook was the only social-media platform to ban anti-Semitic stereotypes of collective Jewish power and update their hate policy to include denying the Holocaust. These efforts and admissions are enormous and deserve praise, particularly when competitors refuse to do the same.”

Cosmetics company L’Oréal was praised for its response after it was revealed that in 2018, one of its brand influencers posted anti-Semitic tweets. Since then, it has had an “influencer value charter” that states brand influencers “will not share views or engage in behavior which could be interpreted as racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, misogyny, religious intolerance … .”

As for the clothing company American Eagle, which is popular among tweens and teens, it got an “A” in part because it has a Jewish connections group for associates to “celebrate the Jewish culture through education and recognition of holiday rituals throughout the year.’ ”