J&J CEO says white men need to listen more

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Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said Wednesday that white men need to “do more listening” in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police.

“I realize that can be difficult,” Gorsky said during an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “I think there’s no way you can just move through a checklist without I think demonstrating empathy and an understanding of some of the deep-seated nature and experiences the [black] community has had and is currently experiencing.”

Gorsky announced Tuesday that J&J is committing $10 million over the next three years “to fighting racism and injustice in America” as people across the United States and other parts of the world protest against police killings of black Americans. 

“As the CEO of the world’s largest healthcare company, I must state unequivocally that racism in any form is unacceptable, and that black lives matter,” he said in a LinkedIn post. “And as a white man, I also need to acknowledge the limits of my own life experience and listen to those who have faced systemic injustice since the day they were born.”

He said Wednesday that J&J wants employees to feel they have “a safe space” and freedom to have discussions on racial inequality. 

The company is also working on a potential vaccine to prevent Covid-19, which has infected more than 1.83 million and killed at least 106,181 across the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The company expects human testing of its experimental vaccine to begin by September and it could be available for emergency use authorization in early 2021.

Gorsky acknowledged the disproportionate impact the virus has had on black communities, saying, the company “wants to go out and find out why is that.”

“What’s the underlying nature? What can we do better to make sure your zip code isn’t contributing more to your life expectancy, frankly, to other health-care factors,” he said. 

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