Diversity & Inclusion
DEI / Workplace culture

A year after George Floyd’s murder, have company racial justice promises been kept?

2020's Black Lives Matter protests brought about a sweep of corporate DEI pledges and funding commitments for racial equity. Are local tech companies following through?

A Philadelphia march held in honor of Black women killed by police, June 2020. (Photo by Julie Zeglen)

This editorial article is a part of Tech for the Common Good Month of Technical.ly's editorial calendar. This month’s theme is underwritten by Verizon 5G. This story was independently reported and not reviewed by Verizon before publication.

George Floyd’s murder on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests, as Black Americans led the call demanding accountability for police brutality. His killer, former police officer Derek Chauvin, was eventually convicted. But the longstanding work for racial justice in the United States continues.

Workplaces around the mid-Atlantic and the country have become central to that push. Those protests also brought about a sweep of corporate DEI pledges and funding commitments — an estimated $50 billion of them — for racial justice, as businesses faced pressure from employees as well as consumers. (Check out The Plug’s thorough roundup of tech companies’ Black Lives Matter statements.)

Technical.ly reported on many of them locally. From new programming to new grants, here’s a sampling:

  • Philadelphia-headquartered Comcast NBCUniversal made a $100 million commitment to racial justice, which has shown itself in the RISE grant program benefitting BIPOC-owned small biz in Philly and Chester.
  • A coalition of tech companies formed Baltimore Tracks to commit to building a more diverse tech workforce.
  • Delaware State University joined Apple’s hub for HBCUs, the Propel Center, part of the tech behemoth’s $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative.
  • Two racial equity-minded D.C. venture funds, Zeal Capital Partners and The Marathon Fund, secured investments from Bank of America.
  • Juneteenth became a recognized company holiday for many companies we cover (including, full disclosure, ourselves).

We also published manymanymany calls to action and resources for those in leadership to make space for honest dialogue about systemic racism and how their companies can fight it. And we covered the failure of some.

One year later, have commitments and calls like these they made a difference? Are executives following through? Are workplaces any more equitable than they were before employees demanded that leadership do better? What’s changed in the past year, if anything?

It’s something we’ll continue to explore in June — Racial Equity in Tech Month of our editorial calendar — and beyond. Look for check-ins with companies that made funding or diversity pledges in June 2020, and whether there are new pathways for Black technologists.

But we’re eager to hear your thoughts as we shape our reporting plans. Are you an expert we should talk to, or do you know of one? Is there a report we need to read to better explain this topic? Want to write a first-person guest post about your relevant experience, or to share some relevant resources? Let us know:

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Series: Racial Equity in Tech Month 2021
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