International

Majority of Johnson & Johnson shareholders call for racial equity audit

May 6, 2022

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In a significant win for shareholders this year, more than 62 percent of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) shareholders voted in favor of a racial equity audit at the pharmaceutical company. Mercy Investment Services led the resolution at J&J, which was introduced by Sister Ivette Diaz at the April annual meeting. 

Shareholders filed the resolution for several reasons, one of the most important being J&J’s sale of talcum powder. In May 2020, J&J discontinued sales of talcum-based powder in North America because its talc supplier labeled the product as possibly carcinogenic. However, the company has continued sales across the globe, aggressively marketing these products to women of color, even as it faces more than 19,000 pending lawsuits related to talc use. In August, more than 200 health and environmental justice organizations from 50 countries called on the company to "walk its talk on racial equity and valuing Black lives” by ending global sales of talcum-based baby powder.

Shareholder resolutions regarding racial equity and civil rights audits saw increasing support in 2021, with seven of nine proposals earning more than 30% support. That trend is continuing in 2022, with a majority vote at Apple, as well as agreements reached at Dow Chemical, Tyson Foods, Verizon, TD Bank, and others. Mercy Investment Services has filed five resolutions related to racial equity audits during the current shareholder advocacy season. Mercy Investments will continue to reach out to J&J to work with them through the audit process and monitor their response to ensure they complete the audit shareholders have requested.