November 1, 2023
Civil Rights Groups Submit Merger Guideline Comments to the FTC & DOJ, Met With FTC Chairwoman Lina M. Khan, & Issue Joint Statement Demanding Diversity Consideration In Any Corporate Mergers
Every day, U.S. consumers depend on regulations from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to defend us from exploitation and make sure that businesses operate not just efficiently, but fairly which is why yesterday, the coalition met with FTC Chairwoman Lina M. Khan to discuss the Revised Merger Guidelines submitted. When powerful and influential corporations merge with one another, we as United States citizens – particularly communities of color – are the first to feel the effects, from price increases, restructuring, diversity layoffs, and more.
On September 18th, the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), National Urban League (NUL), Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), National Action Network (NAN), and the Hispanic Federation submitted joint comments to the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and the FTC, which determine any merger’s effect on competition in the modern economy and how mergers are evaluated under the law
In the comments, our argument to the FTC and DOJ was clear – when companies merge, diversity cannot, and must not be an afterthought. We strongly encourage the FTC and DOJ to use Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) commitments as a key consideration when evaluating any proposed corporate mergers.
“Latino communities, and all communities of color, have historically faced systemic barriers, exploitation and underrepresentation at the hands of bad actors for much of U.S. history. If unchecked, mergers and acquisitions can create dangerous monopolies that can be extremely harmful for communities of color,” said Brenda Victoria Castillo, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition. “It’s time for companies to be held accountable to the communities they serve, and it’s time that we as the American people know whether these giant companies and conglomerates will champion diversity, or simply perpetuate existing disparities.
“The FTC and DOJ must include diversity, equity, and inclusion metrics in the evaluation of proposed mergers in order to shape a marketplace that dismantles systemic racism,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “It is no secret that policies that appear impartial on their face can create exclusionary and unfair practices. In an administration that is committed to social justice and centering the public interest, we demand that all agencies do their part to foster an inclusive economic ecosystem.”
"Advancing Justice – AAJC emphasizes the importance of diversity in mergers, urging the FTC and DOJ to protect and promote representation. It is crucial that employers, business owners, and shareholders look like consumers and reflect their diversity, said John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice. “Diversity on boards and in senior leadership should be prioritized during mergers. It is critical that Asian Americans and other historically marginalized communities are adequately represented at every level."
"At a time when equity is under attack and hate is on the rise, it has never been more important to have news and views told by the communities most at risk," said Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President of the National Action Network (NAN). "The new DOJ and FTC merger guidelines will address the historic fact that Black, Latino, and other voices have been excluded from the media — especially in the C-Suite and ownership — while setting us on a fairer course. This is the Administration living up to its promise to advance policies, funding, and, just as importantly, rules in place to ensure a fairer future in the media landscape."
“Every day, more corporations are merging and reshaping our access to information, the consumer marketplace, and even the job market. Communities of color can’t afford to sit on the sidelines as these powerful actors reshape multiple sectors that often lead to job losses, restructuring, and price increases. The best way of ensuring that our communities aren’t overlooked or harmed by corporate mergers is to have intentional policies that bolster diversity, equity, and inclusion. It’s with this in mind that we urge the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission to remain responsible stewards of fairness and insist DEI measures are in place when evaluating any proposed corporate merger,” said Frankie Miranda, President and CEO of Hispanic Federation.
Recent history has shown that when it comes to media mergers and acquisitions, workplace diversity – often at higher levels of the C-Suite and Board – is often first to go when economic, political, or social adversity hits. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives are already on the decline in Corporate America, putting DEI at risk overall in every industry in the United States.
In a time where diversity efforts are under attack across the country, these Revised Guidelines are a crucial opportunity for these Agencies – and this Administration – to show their commitment to not just consumer protection, but to the United States citizens and the future of diversity in corporate America.
Each organization in our coalition has civil rights at its core – our mission and life’s work is, and always will be, rooted in advancing diversity and ensuring an equitable future for underrepresented communities in America. When it comes to mergers and acquisitions in corporate America, addressing the dire need for diversity in companies, product development, and competition is no exception. We collectively believe that it should be the rule, not the exception, that our communities are at the forefront of decision-making and have equitable opportunities across various industries. It’s time for corporations to believe it too.
Yours in the Movement,
Brenda Victoria Castillo
President & CEO
National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC)
President & CEO
National Urban League (NUL)
John C. Yang
President and Executive Director
Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ)
Rev. Al Sharpton
Founder and President
National Action Network (NAN)
President and CEO