Comcast plans to allocate $100 million toward fighting injustice and inequality toward Black people and other communities.
The new initiative — spanning Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal and Sky in the U.K. — will encompass social-justice programs aimed at inequality against “any race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation or ability,” chairman/CEO Brian Roberts announced in a companywide memo Monday.
Comcast’s pledge will comprise $75 million in cash and $25 million worth of advertising inventory over the next three years. That’s in addition to the existing commitments the company makes to “thousands of organizations supporting underrepresented communities” through the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation and social impact programs, Roberts wrote.
Roberts’ announcement of the program comes amid the backdrop of ongoing protests demanding law-enforcement reform, which have continued across the U.S. in response to the killing of George Floyd, a black Minneapolis man who died May 25 while in police custody.
The goal, Roberts said, is “to build programs, allocate resources and partner with national and local organizations to drive meaningful change.”
The new initiative will be led by Craig Robinson, EVP and chief diversity officer at NBCU, in collaboration with executives across Comcast, NBCU and Sky.
In his memo to Comcast employees, Roberts wrote, “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.” The Comcast chief said he spoke with a number of employees who have “reached out and courageously shared your experiences and fears,” after which the company moved to put together the preliminary components of the $100 million plan.
As part of Comcast’s overall pledge, Sky said it will invest £10 million per year in each of the next three years. The satellite operator’s commitment will cover three areas: improving Black and minority ethnic representation “at all levels”; donating to anti-racism charities; and using Sky’s platforms to highlight racial injustice, including the June 15 broadcast of documentary “Eight Minutes and 46 seconds; The Killing of George Floyd” on Sky Documentaries, Sky One, Sky Witness and Sky Atlantic (which also will be made available free on YouTube).
Roberts outlined five key focus areas in the memo, which Comcast shared publicly on Monday:
- Social Justice: The company will “provide significant grants” to organizations including the National Urban League, the Equal Justice Initiative, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the National Action Network and the Community Justice Action Fund.
- Employees: Comcast will “accelerate our efforts” in all areas of diversity and inclusion, including advancement, hiring and training.
- Awareness & Education: The company will highlight “Black voices and Black stories” across all its media channels and is making anti-racism education and inequality awareness” a priority for NBCU’s Symphony cross-platform advertising division.
- Digital Equity: In addition to Comcast’s Internet Essentials, which provides discounted broadband to more than 8 million low-income households, the company will expand programs to provide digital skills training to young people and to “upskilling” adults with the aim of improving economic mobility.
- Small Business Opportunity: Comcast will commit funds to help small businesses affected by extended closures in the wake of COVID-19, with a “substantial portion of those funds to businesses owned by people of color,” including advertising inventory and commercial production for ads when they are ready to open. In addition, the company will create new LIFT Labs programs for Black founders; invest in diverse entrepreneurs through Comcast Ventures and accelerator programs; and expand its Catalyst program focused on investing in Black, Latinx and female entrepreneurs.
Read Roberts’ full memo:
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.
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 these efforts with me at the corporate level and will 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. We will share more about these initiatives and our plans in the weeks ahead, but today we want to outline our key focus areas:
Social Justice: We will partner with, and provide significant grants to, organizations working to eradicate injustice and inequity. 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 NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the National Action Network and the Community Justice Action Fund.
Employees: We will accelerate our efforts in all areas of Diversity & 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. 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.
Awareness & Education: We will 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.
Digital Equity: We will deepen our company’s long-standing commitment to addressing digital inequities, which disproportionately impact communities of color. Over the last 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. 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.
Small Business Opportunity: We will 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. 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.
I want to sincerely thank those of you who have reached out and courageously shared your experiences and fears. We look forward to hearing more of your insightful ideas for our path ahead to a better future. Together we are facing a painful yet powerful moment – one that presents us with a renewed opportunity to do better, and to create substantive and sustainable change.
Brian L. Roberts
Chairman and CEO