US consulting firm refuses work from clients "shielding white supremacy"

18 August 2017 5 min. read
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Arizona-based consultancy Spectrum Experience has stated it will refuse work from clients unwilling to embrace the principles of racial equality. The firm made the statement in the wake of President Donald Trump’s refusal to condemn far-right violence in Charlottesville, which left a woman dead and many more injured.

Spectrum Experience, a communications and professional services firm based in Tempe, Arizona has declared it will no longer work with clients unwilling to denounce white supremacy. Spectrum works predominantly in political and governmental communications, with the company website stating it exists to promote "inspirational ideas, progressive humanist innovation, and powerful, effective political change." While the firm does expect a minor loss of business, the company felt a clear stance was needed in the light of recent events.

The 12th of August saw thousands of far-right protestors – including self-styled ‘alt-right’ neo-Nazis and even members of the Ku Klux Klan – assemble to put on a show of force. Those attending were said to be chanting slogans including “Jews will not replace us" and “Blood and soil” – slogans heavily alluding to violence targeting ethnic minorities. After an anti-fascist counter-demonstration assembled to denounce the extremists, a car was driven deliberately into their midst, leaving 19 injured and 32-year-old Heather Heyer dead.

Despite mounting pressure to condemn the numerous acts of violence committed in the name of white supremacy which were documented and reported, the increasingly embattled Donald Trump refused to condemn the hardliners responsible. The President instead opted to condemn violence “on all sides”, and implied heavily that anti-fascist protestors had provoked the attacks they were on the end of. Trump’s response was widely condemned as pandering to right-wing extremists, and led to the White House being forced to disband two business councils that were disintegrating in response to his inaction.

US consulting firm refuses work from clients

The Strategic and Policy Forum and the White House Manufacturing Jobs Initiative were both dissolved as corporate leaders continued to resign days after the initial violence. The collapse of the advisory bodies followed seven different corporate leaders stepping down from the two councils, including the CEOs of both Campbell’s Soup and 3M on Wednesday. Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan and a member of Strategic and Policy Forum, said in a statement, “I strongly disagree with President Trump’s reaction to the events that took place in Charlottesville over the past several days.” He added that he agreed with the council’s decision to disband.

Trump meanwhile seemed to dodge suggestions that business leaders were deserting his Presidency –claiming in a Tweet that this was his decision – having previously stated that resignations from both panels were of no consequence. “For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on. JOBS!” he said on Twitter on the day before the dissolution.


Serah Blain, a senior strategist with Spectrum, said the Arizona consulting firm has meanwhile notified its clients of a new policy regarding anti-racism. Blain stated Spectrum expects to lose “two or three” of its 30 clients, as they now require all business clients to stand up to racism. While Spectrum does not require clients to go out of their way to pledge support to the Black Lives Matter movement per se, the Tempe firm does expect all of its clients to voice that support if they are asked about it, or confronted with it on social media. Spectrum said it will henceforth refuse to work with companies or clients it believes are “shielding white supremacy.”

The phrase “Black Lives Matter” has been a major slogan in the civil rights movement since 2013, first trending as a hashtag on Twitter following the acquittal of George Zimmerman following his shooting of unarmed African-American teen Trayvon Martin. The resulting movement continued to call for then-President Barrack Obama to address racial inequality and violence in modern America. The movement came under sustained attack from Donald Trump himself during the 2016 Presidential election campaign, a move which critics suggested was a method of evading legitimate questions regarding racial inequality in America.

In a company statement on its move, the firm said, “Spectrum Experience is committed to operating a humanist firm that works only with those who share our values. This doesn’t mean that we have full agreement on every issue with every client, but it does mean that we will not help a client work against humanist principles. Shielding White supremacy is, without a doubt, an act that works against humanism…

“Because of this, Spectrum Experience will not work with clients who are unwilling to oppose White supremacy, or to publicly state that Black lives matter. We know that many of our clients have already been doing this for quite some time, but we also know that some of you have shied away from public discussions on racism.”