23 Companies That Support Black Lives Matter (BLM) in 2022
In 2020, as George Floyd’s death at the hands of police grabbed national headlines, many tech companies expressed their support of the Black Lives Matter movement on social media.
“While our Black colleagues uniquely feel personal outrage at these events that we see all too often, I and the entire Grubhub team share their horror and frustration, and know the impact of current events is profound and will rightly be felt for a very long time,” Grubhub CEO Matt Maloney wrote in an open letter the company shared on Twitter.
Company leaders echoed the sentiments Maloney expressed here: grief, outrage, sympathy. Some went a step further and, like Grubhub, committed to donating money to anti-racist groups. Some unveiled initiatives for addressing racism in their products or organizations. A few shared the racial make-up of their workforces and action plans for hiring and retaining more employees from underrepresented groups.
As many Black tech professionals pointed out, corporate statements only go so far. Reporters from The Plug, a publication focused on the Black tech community, compiled a spreadsheet tracking companies that released #BlackLivesMatter statements and whether those companies shared diversity data, made material donations or established diversity, equity and inclusion principles.
List of Companies That Support BLM 2021
- Matchstick Ventures
DEI Experts Offer Solutions To Create A Radically Inclusive Workplace
“Not sure if it’s possible, but I’d love to see a follow-up ‘report card’ on how these companies stack up with respect to Black leadership,” one Twitter commenter wrote in response to The Plug’s work. “Maybe it’s late. Maybe I’m tired. I’m keeping score differently now.”
Statements should come with actions, Mutale Nkonde, an AI policy analyst and researcher, told Built In. But the language many companies used to express their support still made an impact.
“Saying you’re in solidarity with Black lives is very powerful,” she said.
“They use the word ‘diversity,’ and they didn’t want to use the word ‘Black.’ So, the fact that I saw so many companies using that phrase, ‘Black lives,’ is a complete departure.”
In her work collecting data for a report on racial literacy in tech, Nkonde and her fellow researchers spoke with 30 people at various levels in tech companies. More than 70 percent of respondents didn’t use the word “race” at work.
“They use the word ‘diversity,’ and they didn’t want to use the word ‘Black,’” Nkonde said. “So, the fact that I saw so many companies using that phrase, ‘Black lives,’ is a complete departure.”
That shift in language could signal a larger shift away from so-called “diversity pandering” and toward meaningful reform. But the real effects of tech’s participation in #BlackLivesMatter will take time to assess, according to Nkonde.
“The companies that have done it well are going to be companies that have made some type of systemic change,” she said. “I think it’s too early for that question, but we’re going to see over time, so I don’t want to be too critical of anyone. I will say it’s going to take a long time to see how power shifts and business models change in response to this moment.”
Tammy Xu contributed reporting to this story.
Taking Steps to Support Black Employees and Customers
In social media app TikTok’s statement last year, it included four action items to make the platform more inclusive for Black users, including bringing in outside experts to evaluate how the company’s products can “better serve people of all backgrounds.”
One of those experts was Nkonde, who joined TikTok’s content advisory council in early June. Going forward, she and other participants will help the company examine how race shows up in the everyday life of its platform — whether that’s through moderating racist content or understanding the flow of targeted misinformation.
“What my involvement there really looks like is sitting among a group of other experts and trying to fill in some of the blind spots,” Nkonde said. “The way TikTok is looking at race online is, in my opinion, thoughtful.”
“The way TikTok is looking at race online is, in my opinion, thoughtful.”
What else would Nkonde like to see from tech companies?
One thing is more Black employees. But companies shouldn’t stop there, Nkonde said: Give those employees the resources to organize internally for causes that matter to them.
“Black people live in the world, so they could be organizing around better health benefits for their colleagues, because they’re going to benefit from those,” she said. “They could be organizing around better childcare benefits, or even just quality of life.”
When there’s one Black employee in the room, that person doesn’t have the institutional power to influence the culture of the company. If firms have a representative ratio of Black team members — 13 percent, in the United States — and give those people the resources to organize and make changes, all tides rise, Nkonde said.
Second, companies can limit their involvement with markets that disproportionately harm Black people. IBM announced last June it will stop developing and selling general-purpose facial recognition technology, citing concerns about racial profiling. Amazon and Microsoft decided to stop selling facial recognition solutions to law enforcement. Policing is a clear example, but companies may also evaluate their dealings with the financial, housing and security sectors, making sure they’re not supporting or participating in harmful practices like loan discrimination.
Last, companies can develop a more nuanced understanding of racial literacy, according to Nkonde. Action plans are an essential part of improving racial literacy, she said, but so is improving the cognitive and emotional understanding of race among white employees.
“Part of #BlackLivesMatter statements has to be allowing white people to have critical conversations and examine what’s going on. [Companies] need support for white employees and also some education for white customers on how changes that help Black people actually help everyone,” Nkonde said.
As #BlackLivesMatter headlines dwindle, time will tell which companies put their money — and efforts — where their mouths were, and industries are watching. UOMA beauty founder Sharon Chuter launched the #PutUpOrShutUp campaign to encourage companies to share their diversity data and increase their Black representation. Content strategists Lexie Perez, Julian Cole, Stephanie Vitacca and Davis Ballard created this slideshow documenting brands’ #BlackLivesMatter statements, actions and reactions.
These 23 companies have disclosed the amounts and recipients of their donations, shared concrete actions plans or addressed enduring problems with their products or services in response to #BlackLivesMatter.
In 2020, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins announced the company would donate a total of $5 million to Equal Justice Initiative, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Color of Change and Black Lives Matter, as well as its own fund. As of August 2021, the company has made donations to the first two organizations and committed $100 million for strengthening historically Black colleges and universities, but has not donated to Black Lives Matter directly.
On-demand cannabis startup Eaze announced in 2020 plans to donate $25,000 to the California NAACP. It also shared resources on the role cannabis has played in the racialized war on drugs and the over-policing of Black people, and promised to keep working to make the cannabis industry more equitable for enterprises owned by people of color.
In July 2020, Grindr removed the ethnicity filter on its dating app to discourage racism in its community. The feature stopped displaying for users about six weeks after the announcement, but sparked some backlash from users who relied on the filter to find people with shared backgrounds and experiences.
IBM CEO Arvind Krishna announced in a letter to Congress in June that the company would no longer sell or develop general-purpose facial recognition technology. Facial recognition technology has been shown to be less accurate when identifying Black faces, which would reinforce racial bias if the technology is used for policing.
Following George Floyd’s death and its statements in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Microsoft made a number of commitments to address racial inequality within and outside its organization. It promised to invest an additional $150 million in its own diversity and inclusion efforts, create a $50 million partner fund for Black-owned business partners, put $23 million toward financing and training those partners, double its number of Black employees in senior positions by 2025 and double its number of Black-owned suppliers by 2023. Microsoft said it will give $100 million to minority-owned depository institutions, $50 million to Black-owned businesses and another $50 million in $5 million grants over five years to nonprofits serving Black communities. The commitments altogether add up to more than $1 billion.
Augmented reality gaming company Niantic donated a total of $7 million in 2020 to support community organizations in the United States. Of that total, $5 million came from proceeds from its Pokémon GO Fest 2020 ticket sales. The company also donated another $5 million to fund projects from Black AR and game creators. It also partnered with Gameheads to launch virtual game development classes for kids and to create a game design certificate program at California State University. Niantic continued its partnership with Treehouse to bring in new hires from underrepresented groups for internships. In February, Niantic launched a Black Developers Initiative that provides selected game development teams with five months of funding and mentorship.
In 2020, Peloton pledged to donate $500,000 to the NAACP legal defense fund. Three weeks later, it followed up with a promise to invest $100 million over four years to fight racial inequity inside and outside the company. That initiative included a $3 pay increase for hourly employees, $20 million for learning and development opportunities for hourly employees, $20 million to social justice-focused nonprofit organizations and a report on Peleton’s diversity data. This year, Peloton launched a campaign that tracks the company’s progress toward anti-racism, called “Together Means All of Us.”
Reddit CEO Steve Huffman promised in an open letter that the company would review and update its content policy to explicitly condemn racism. He also apologized for the company’s slowness in responding to racist Reddit communities in the past. Additionally, co-founder Alexis Ohanian resigned from Reddit’s board and asked that he be replaced with a Black advisor, and in June 2020, Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel stepped in to take Ohanian’s place, becoming Reddit’s first Black board member.
In 2020, Shopify pledged to donate $1 million total to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Black Health Alliance and Campaign Zero. It also added a banner that directs app visitors to Black-owned businesses.
After initial hesitation from CEO Evan Spiegel, Snap released its diversity data. It committed to doubling its number of women in tech roles by 2023 and its total number of employees from racial minority groups by 2025. As of 2021, those numbers have mostly held steady, but the company increased the number of women on its board to 50 percent.
Uber pledged $1 million total to Equal Justice Initiative and Center for Policing Equity. In an open letter from CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, the company also committed to a litany of other measures, including providing anti-racism education to drivers and riders, giving $10 million in promotions for Black-owned businesses over the next two years and a zero-dollar delivery fee for Black-owned restaurants in 2020. Uber also plans to double the number of Black employees at the director level or above, as well as the number of drivers and support staff, many of whom are people of color, working toward corporate positions by 2025.
In 2020, Comcast pledged to spend $100 million over three years to support equity and inclusion efforts by partnering with organizations like the National Urban League and the Equal Justice Initiative, reorganizing their hiring and training processes and promoting digital equity. The company also launched NBCU Academy to train underrepresented students in media and the Comcast RISE program that awards grants to small businesses owned by people of color.
Slack, a San Francisco based company pledged $100,000 to the Equal Justice Initiative in 2020, and partnered with Dropbox and Zoom to expand its six-month apprenticeship program for formerly incarcerated individuals, Next Chapter. The program provides financial aid, mentorship and re-entry support, and trains participants for jobs in engineering.
Paypal announced in 2020 a commitment of $535 million in funds and grants for Black-owned businesses and community organizations. Of this amount, $15 million was allocated for grants to 1,400 Black-owned businesses, $100 million went to venture funds led by Black and Latinx founders, and $200 million to community banks and credit unions.
Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz launched a $2.2 million fund in 2020 to invest in underrepresented founders. One hundred percent of returns from the fund will go back into it, and outside investors are welcome to contribute.
Bumble pledged $1 million to organizations including the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center and Austin Justice Coalition. The company promised to donate $5,000 each to an undisclosed number of social justice groups sourced from users. Going forward, the company also promised to conduct a “comprehensive audit” to address racism on its platform.
DocuSign pledged $500,000 to the NAACP and other social justice initiatives, and committed to releasing its diversity data. It followed up a month later, sharing the composition of its workforce publicly, which the company updated in 2021.
In 2020, DoorDash committed to donate $500,000 to Black Lives Matter, with another $500,000 earmarked for distribution to community nonprofits by its internal Black Employee Resource Group. The company will start tying diversity goals to job performance and promotions for team leaders, CEO Tony Xu wrote in an open letter. DoorDash announced a partnership with Kiva to match up to $150,000 in crowdsourced loans for Black business owners. It also launched a “Black-owned” tag for participating restaurants on DoorDash and Caviar.
21. Matchstick Ventures
Black founders are starkly underfunded in venture capital spaces — just 1 percent of funded founders are Black, Wired reports. In the past year, venture capital firm Matchstick Ventures built new relationships with Black, Indigenous, and people of color founders networks like Techstars and UnMet Conference, and added a Black advisor to its advisory board. The firm originally pledged to help 30 percent of its portfolio companies add Black members to their boards or C-suites — the 30 percent figure is meant to represent three times the 10 percent Black population in its target markets, Minneapolis and Colorado. In its 2021 update statement, the firm reported that it had pushed for key hires to have at least one diverse candidate but had not made “material progress” on this front.
In 2020, Boulder-based Techtonic recruited 100 Black and Latinx coders for its paid apprenticeship program. Participants work on real software projects for clients, with the opportunity to interview with the external companies at the end of the program.
SoftBank created a $100 million fund to invest in startups run by people of color, called the Opportunity Growth Fund. A year after the fund was launched, SoftBank has successfully invested half the committed amount in roughly 50 startup companies led by Black and Latinx founders.
Watch our on demand webinar to hear from expert panelists about ways to build a culture of belonging at your organization, and the changes that you can make to be a fully inclusive employer.