Shareholders call for accountability through racial equity audits

racial equity_diversity_multicultural_iStock-1087715378_newsletter 

The past few years have brought increasing demands for racial equity and justice to address the systemic racism that permeates society. As part of this call for change, Mercy Investment Services and other shareholders continue to engage companies on their practices, products and services that impact communities of color. 

This shareholder advocacy season, Mercy Investment Services has filed proposals calling for independent racial equity audits at two companies with significant influence over health impacts:

  • Black and Native Americans have higher death rates than white people across a variety of illnesses. Black and Latina women also face higher preconception and maternal health risks than other groups, regardless of income level. Given these health inequities, Mercy Investment Services has filed a resolution at UnitedHealth Group, the largest health insurance provider in the United States, urging the board of directors to oversee a third-party audit that assesses and recommends improvements to the racial impacts of the company’s policies, practices, products, and services. To date, UnitedHealth Group has engaged in productive conversations with shareholders. 
  • A racial equity audit resolution at tobacco company Altria earned more than 62% shareholder support in 2022. Despite this majority vote, the company ignored shareholders’ call for an independent, third-party audit and plans to conduct an internal audit. Shareholders have emphasized the need for an external auditor to strengthen the likelihood of a holistic, intentional audit. Mercy Investment Services has filed the resolution again to build shareholder support and hold Altria accountable for the impact of its products, policies and practices on BIPOC and Latinx communities, including youth. 


Shareholders’ calls for racial equity closely align with the Sisters of Mercy’s concern for racism. Mercy Investment Services will continue to push these companies to conduct independent audits to ensure racial equity throughout their products, practices and services.


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