New York Times: Minnesota’s big companies are preparing for the Chauvin verdict.

April 21, 2021 | By the New York Times

As jurors in the Derek Chauvin trial consider a verdict, Minnesota’s largest employers are bracing for a reopening of last summer’s wounds.

April 21, 2021 (New York Times) — George Floyd’s killing ignited violence and unrest last summer that forced Target to shutter a number of its stores and limit hours in others. More broadly, it set off a social reckoning across corporate America, as business leaders sought to address racial inequity both within their own walls and the community at large. In Minnesota, more than 80 companies including General Mills, Best Buy and 3M started the Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity aimed at improving outcomes for the state’s Black community.

As the state gears up for the possibility of renewed unrest, a spokesman for Target said the retailer was “closely monitoring the trial and any surrounding activity,” but did not indicate any plans to close stores in advance of a verdict.

The majority of the company’s headquarters work force is already working from home, but for those employees still in its main office and stores downtown, “we’ve communicated to them about the trial, shared that we’re monitoring closely and let them know we’ll reach out if there’s any impact to our business,” the Target spokesman said.

A spokeswoman for General Mills, which sells its Cheerios and other baked goods around the world, said the company remained focused on broader issues facing the company and country.

“As a global company headquartered in Minneapolis, we understand the nation is in a long overdue conversation on systemic racism,” she said. “Further, we know we have a role to play and all of us have a lot of work to do on this count.” The company’s top priority is communicating its “support and allyship” to its employees, she said.

Minnesota’s largest company by revenue, UnitedHealth Group, is “offering training for managers to have conversations with their teams, and seminars focused on empathy and compassion,” a spokesman said. “Our priority during this period is supporting our employees who continue to be affected in different ways by this case.”

At 3M, which makes products across a broad array of industries, the company has increased resources in its employee assistance program, a spokesman said. “We continue to have, and encourage, open discussions with our colleagues to listen, understand, and act, as needed.”