Will FedEx’s corporate image be damaged because the Washington Redskins play in a stadium named after the company?
That’s what a new shareholder proposal filed with FedEx (NYSE: FDX) by the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin contends. It asks the Memphis, Tennessee-based company to “respond to reputational damage from its association with the Washington, D.C. NFL franchise team.” The team’s stadium in Landover, Maryland, is called FedExField, under a naming rights deal that lasts through 2026.
That franchise is under fire for continuing to use the Redskins name, a term the U.S. Patent Office ruled disparages Native Americans and is no longer worthy of trademark protection. The team is confident the trademark ruling will be overturned on appeal.
The Oneida tribe was joined in the shareholder filing by Mercy Investment Services, an asset management firm for the Sisters of Mercy, and Calvert Investments, an investment firm based in Bethesda, Maryland.
“There is growing consensus that there is no reason for the team to continue to use a logo with a symbol that is contemptuous and condescending toward Native Americans,” said Sister Valerie Heinonen of Mercy Investment Services. “FedEx has a responsibility to do more and to respond to the ongoing reputational damage generated by this controversy, reminiscent of Aunt Jemima, black face and other racist uses of African American people and heritage. The issue isn’t going away — nor should it.”
“We strongly encourage FedEx to address and examine its role in perpetuating and supporting such stereotypes,” said Reed Montague, sustainability analyst at Calvert Investment.
“Each time a game is broadcast or the team name mentioned, the company is perceived as supporting disparaging and racist language,” said Jonas D. Kron, senior vice president and director of shareholder advocacy at Trillium Asset Management, which provided assistance for the shareholder proposal