Society

After an episode of violence against a Black man, Carrefour announces measures against racism

Carrefour announced the creation of a fund against racism after the death of a Black customer in a franchise store sparked protests and stock market crashes

The episode sparked protests against racism with the same phrase used after the death of American George Floyd: "Vidas Negras Importam" (Portuguese for Black Lives Matter). Photo: REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes
Ler em português
  • João Alberto Freitas, a 40-year-old black man, was beaten to death in the parking lot of one of the supermarket chain stores in Porto Alegre;
  • It sparked protests against racism with the same phrase used after the death of the American George Floyd: “Black Lives Matter.”

Carrefour Brasil‘s shares rise at 0.37% this Tuesday afternoon, after the group announced the creation of a fund against racism, among other measures, following a violent episode that resulted in the death of a Black customer in a store of the franchise last week.

João Alberto Freitas, a 40-year-old Black man, was beaten to death by security guards in one of the company’s supermarkets in the southern city of Porto Alegre. The case is emblematic as it happened on Black Awareness Day in Brazil (November 20) and, in the last few days, it sparked protests against racism with the same phrase used after the death of the American George Floyd: “Vidas Negras Importam” (Portuguese for Black Lives Matter). The acts of protesters targeted the chain’s stores since Friday, in addition to requests for boycotts. As a result, after a slight increase on Friday, the company’s shares registered a significant drop on Monday (23), of 5.35%.

The delay in investors’ reaction caused discussions about ESG (Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance) in the country, especially when it comes to companies’ social practices, Nexo Jornal showed. To O Estado de São Paulo, the economist Pedro Fernando Nery said that the initial reading of the market for Carrefour’s case indicates that the Brazilian “society does not care about racial violence.”

READ ALSO: From George Floyd to João Pedro: Brazilian artists join #BlackOutTuesday

On Twitter, Fama Investimentos‘ co-founder and portfolio manager, Fabio Alperowitch, criticized the lack of ESG criteria in the case of Carrefour, saying that ESG is mentioned in the company’s presentations, but it does not go beyond that.

Radar Econômico blog reported that investors said that the appreciation of Carrefour’s shares on Friday was due to the perception that Carrefour’s defense would be more solid due to the criminal record that the victim had. But Monday’s stock exchange session showed a setback in investor thinking.

The papers recovered slightly on Tuesday after the disclosure of a relevant fact in which Carrefour Brasil again affirmed that it deeply regrets the murder of João Alberto Silveira Freitas and that it is investigating all the facts and taking steps, including the creation of a fund to combat the racism.

READ ALSO: Nubank to fund the education of Black programmers after controversy

“The company does not agree with this type of attitude and is taking all appropriate measures to hold those involved in this criminal act accountable,” said the firm in a relevant fact to the Brazilian Securities and Exchange Commission (CVM, in Portuguese).

Among the measures taken after Freitas’ death, the company stated that it will create a fund to promote racial inclusion and the fight against racism, with an initial investment of BRL 25 million. Carrefour Brasil also said that it has been working “daily on a culture of respect and appreciation for all people.” The company will announce commitments and the action plan that will guide the fund on Wednesday.

The chain promised to revert Carrefour Brasil stores’ results on the last 20 days to projects against racism in the country.

According to the firm, which also owns the Atacadão wholesale chain in Brazil, all Carrefour stores in the country had their opening postponed by two hours last Saturday so that the company “could once again reinforce training with its employees and third-party employees.”

READ ALSO: Why Black Lives Matter protests haven’t taken off in Brazil

The following is the full statement signed by Sébastien Durchon, Vice President of Finance and Investor Relations Officer Grupo Carrefour Brasil, released to shareholders on Tuesday (24):

The Carrefour Brasil Group deeply regrets what happened and is in contact with the family of Mr. João Alberto to provide all necessary support. The Company does not agree with this type of attitude and, as mentioned above, is adopting all appropriate measures to hold those involved in this criminal act responsible. Also, the local contract with the company responsible for the security guards who committed the aggression was terminated. Given the unfortunate episode, in addition to the measures above, the entire result of Carrefour stores in Brazil last Friday, November 20, 2020, will revert to projects to combat racism in the country, according to guidance from recognized entities in the area. That amount does not reduce the irreparable loss of life, but it is an effort to help prevent it from recurring. Also, all Carrefour stores were postponed by two hours on Saturday, November 21, 2020, so that the Company could once again reinforce training with its employees and third-party employees. The Carrefour Brasil Group reinforces that it has been working daily on the culture of respect and appreciation of all people and, as some examples of affirmative actions, we can highlight: (i) the existence of an Ubuntu racial affinity group (GARU) to talk about the racial equity; (ii) training of leaders in diversity and inclusion; (iii) partnerships to attract Black people to the job market; (iv) existence of a policy to value diversity since 2012; and (v) participation – 2 – in local and international forums and initiatives with human rights. Besides, it is worth highlighting the diversity of the staff of the Carrefour Brasil Group, where more than 58% of the employees and 39% of the leadership declare themselves to be Black or brown, largely reflecting the very structure of Brazilian society. Finally, the Carrefour Brasil Group announced yesterday the creation of a fund to promote racial inclusion and the fight against racism, with an initial contribution of BRL 25 million by the Company, which is working on an additional set of actions and initiatives for the culture of respect and diversity, which will be announced in due course to society and the market in general. The Carrefour Brasil Group will continue to monitor developments in the case and offer full support to local authorities and reinforces its commitment to transparency in the disclosure of information to its shareholders, investors, and the market in general.

Get the best insights about Latin America market in your inbox