Courtesy of Comcast
Courtesy of Comcast

Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts has made a bold statement with both his mouth and wallet.

Roberts announced that Comcast would fight injustice and inequality against any race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation or ability.

With that, Roberts has committed $100 million to a three-year plan to advance social justice and equality. The initiative includes a $75 million cash commitment and $25 million in media.

The commitment comes in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the subsequent protests that have taking place around the globe. In response to that, Roberts vowed that Comcast would seek to play a constructive role amid the debate about social and racial divides.

“Last Sunday, I wrote to you to express my outrage over the far too familiar and frequent acts of violence against the Black community, and to acknowledge the structural racism that fuels these injustices. I’ve spoken with many employees – as have our leaders across Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal and Sky – and we have begun to mobilize as a company. While we recognize we don’t have all the answers, we agree it’s time that we start putting our words into real, sustainable action,” Roberts declared in a statement posted to the Comcast website.

He continued:
“We know that Comcast alone can’t remedy this complex issue. But you have my commitment that our company will try to play an integral role in driving lasting reform. Together, we hope to help create a more equitable, just and inclusive society.

To that end, we are developing a comprehensive, multiyear plan to allocate $100 million to fight injustice and inequality against any race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation or ability. There will be $75 million in cash and $25 million in media that will be distributed over the next three years, in addition to the existing commitments our company currently makes to thousands of organizations supporting underrepresented communities through our Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation and social impact programs.”

Craig Robinson, EVP and Chief Diversity Officer for NBCUniversal, will be spearheading the efforts with Roberts at the corporate level. Roberts said he would coordinate with business leaders across Comcast, NBCUniversal and Sky to build programs, allocate resources and partner with national and local organizations to drive meaningful change.

“Each of our companies will create sustainable programs within their businesses and will be proactively soliciting ideas from employees so that we can build this effort together,” Roberts said.

He noted that the company would share more about the initiatives and its plans in the weeks ahead.

Roberts’ announcement outlined key focus areas: social justice, employees, awareness and education, digital equity and small business opportunity.
For social Justice, Comcast will partner with, and provide significant grants to, organizations working to eradicate injustice and inequity, Roberts said. Organizations will include but not be limited to: the National Urban League, the Equal Justice Initiative, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Action Network and the Community Justice Action Fund, he added.

For employees, Comcast has pledged to accelerate efforts in all areas of diversity and inclusion, including advancement, hiring and training.
“We will educate everyone across the company to better understand race-related issues and have the important conversations – however uncomfortable – through Town Halls, speaker series and mandatory anti-racism and anti-bias training,” Roberts said.

“We will provide additional financial support to our Employee Resource Groups and invest in our diverse talent, providing them with visibility, opportunity and sponsorship, while continuing to strengthen our diversity recruiting strategy. Together, we aim to encourage racial sensitivity and eradicate explicit and implicit bias in the workplace at all levels across Comcast, NBCUniversal and Sky,” he concluded.

For awareness and education, Roberts vowed to “put the full weight of our company’s media resources behind highlighting Black voices and Black stories and educating our viewers on diverse and inclusive cultures, perspectives and experiences, by making anti-racism education and inequality awareness a Symphony priority.”

“We will use our platforms across the organization to continue to shed light on societal issues related to race. NBC News will host a series of Town Halls, similar to their ‘Can You Hear Us Now’ special that aired this past Tuesday, and we will use the X1, Flex, Peacock and Sky platforms to promote and amplify multicultural content,” he said.

Comcast also has vowed to deepen the company’s long-standing commitment to addressing digital inequities, which disproportionately impact communities of color.

Over the past 10 years, Comcast’s Internet Essentials has connected more than eight million low-income people to the internet at home.

“Beyond connectivity, we are scaling up our pledge to provide digital skills training to young people and to upskilling adults with the aim of improving economic mobility,” Roberts said. “Supporting organizations such as Black Girls Code, which empowers girls of color to become innovators in STEM fields, and BUILD, which ignites the potential of young people from under-resourced communities, are two examples,” he said.

The cable giant also said it would commit funds to help small businesses that have been affected by extended closures in the wake of COVID-19, allocating a substantial portion of those funds to businesses owned by people of color.

Comcast Business and Effectv will support businesses impacted by the events of the last few months and provide airtime and commercial production when they are ready to open, Roberts said.

“Additionally, we will create new LIFT Labs programs for Black founders, invest in diverse entrepreneurs through Comcast Ventures and our accelerators and expand the Catalyst program, which focuses on investing in Black, Latinx and female entrepreneurs,” he said.

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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