Investment firms and shareholders worth a collective $620 billion have asked Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo to terminate their business relationships with the Washington Redskins unless the team agrees to change its name, according to a report by Adweek on Wednesday.
The report says three separate letters signed by 87 investment firms and shareholders were written Friday to the three major corporations.
This isn't the first time the Washington franchise has come under fire for the name of the team, but owner Dan Snyder said in 2013 that he would never change it. In today's climate, with protests against racism happening around the world, Native American leaders and advocates are taking the opportunity to again nudge Washington towards a new name.
"This is a broader movement now that's happening that Indigenous peoples are part of," Carla Fredericks, director of First Peoples Worldwide, told Adweek. "Indigenous peoples were sort of left out of the civil rights movement in the late 1960s in many respects, because our conditions were so dire on reservations and our ability to engage publicly was very limited because of that. With social media now, obviously everything is very different."
First Peoples Worldwide is one of the seven firms that led the charge in organizing the letters. Fredericks said investors are concerned about the brands taking actions that run counter to recent commitments about diversity and inclusion. Each letter quotes pledges by the brands to be a part of the fight against systemic racism.
"We appreciate that Nike has spoken up in support of the protests stating ‘Systemic racism and the events that have unfolded across America over the past few weeks serve as an urgent reminder of the continued change needed in our society. The Nike, Inc. family can always do more but will never stop striving to role model how a diverse company acts,'" the letter to Nike reads.
"However, Nike continues to provide uniforms and equipment to the Washington D.C. NFL football team which bears the logo and name," the letter continues. "Further, it produces and sells thousands of jerseys and other apparel with the team's racist name and logo. This association with and facilitation of the racism inherent in the name and logo runs contrary to the very sentiments expressed by the company."
The letter to FedEx similarly called out the brand's association with the team, as FedEx owns the naming rights to the team's stadium in Landover, Md. In response, FedEx told Adweek it directs any questions about the team's name to Snyder. Nike and PepsiCo did not comment.
Adweek said requests over several weeks for Washington and the NFL to comment have not been responded to.
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