Praxis Mutual Funds®, a fund family of Everence®, signed on to letters calling on Nike, Pepsi, and FedEx to terminate their business and public relationships with the National Football League’s Washington, D.C., franchise if it does not stop using the name “Redskins,” a term long considered racist by American Indians. Praxis joined over 80 investors representing more than $620 billion in assets in urging these companies to reconsider their relationships with the franchise.
In response, FedEx issued a statement asking the team to change its name. Shortly thereafter, Nike removed all references to the Washington football team from its website. On July 3, the Washington football team announced that it “will undergo a thorough review of the team’s name.”
The letters sent to Nike, Pepsi, and FedEx from the investor group address the urgency and weight of this moment:
“Since the murder of George Floyd on May 25th, every corner of the country has seen a wave of anger over racial discrimination and violence … it is time for (these companies) to meet the magnitude of this moment, to make their opposition to the racist team name clear, and to take tangible and meaningful steps to exert pressure on the team to cease using it.”
“Praxis is proud to have contributed to this effort and recognizes that through shareholder advocacy, investors have a unique platform from which to engage with companies and encourage them to pursue business practices that support racial justice,” said Chris Meyer, Praxis Manager of Stewardship Investing Advocacy and Research. “Our collaboration in this initiative upholds one of Praxis’ core values of respecting the dignity and value of all people.”
Directly addressing the discriminatory nature of the NFL’s Washington, D.C., franchise team name and logo, the letters to Nike, Pepsi, and FedEx quote from the 2018 National Congress of American Indians resolution (#DEN-18-044), which states:
“…the use of the R-word as the name and mascot of the Washington National Football League team is offensive and hurtful to American Indian and Alaska Native people and causes direct, harmful effects on the physical and mental health and academic achievement of the American Indian and Alaska Native populations, particularly youth; and … despite the team’s arguments to the contrary, the R-word is not a term of honor or respect, but rather, a term that still connotes racism and genocide for Native peoples and for all others who know of this history and recognize that it is wrong to characterize people by the color of their skin;”
Investors were invited to sign on to these letters by the Oneida Trust, First Peoples Worldwide, Trillium Asset Management, Boston Trust Walden, Boston Common Asset Management, First Affirmative Financial Network, and Mercy Investments. For years, each of these organizations has engaged Nike, Pepsi, and FedEx to end the use of the racist name and logo. The investor group issued an updated statement in response to the Washington football team’s announcement agreeing to conduct a review of its name.