An Update on our $100M Commitment
In so many ways, 2020 was a challenging year, one that pushed our society to its limits. And yet, it also provided us with an opportunity – really an obligation – to deepen and accelerate our commitment to equity, inclusion, and our communities. Collectively and individually, we had to confront hard truths and reconcile our role within them. We witnessed, and continue to witness, a watershed moment come to life and a recognition – rightly, a demand – for further action.
I am sincerely proud of how Comcast NBCUniversal stepped forward: asking how we could do more, have a greater impact, and help create the change we want to see within our organization and in the world around us. Our core values of integrity, respect, and improving the communities where our employees and customers live have been part of our DNA since our founding nearly 60 years ago and they continue to guide us as we seek new ways to uphold them. This strong history and foundation, combined with a wonderful network of existing partners and the support of our Joint Diversity Council, enabled us to make meaningful progress and drive new programmatic initiatives forward quickly.
Over the last year, our company has come together like never before – to educate and uplift our employees, advance equity, and reorient our support of underserved, underrepresented, and under-resourced communities. This is a journey – one that started long before renewed calls for racial justice this past summer – and one that we will be committed to long after.
Update on our 2020 Progress
When Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts announced our multiyear $100 million plan to advance social justice and equality – a pledge that marks another significant moment in the annual investments we have long made to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) and uplifting local communities – we outlined our commitment to doing real work that would produce lasting change.
That work starts at home, accelerating the cultural transformation underway within our own organization, and being even more intentional about making Comcast NBCUniversal a place where principles of diversity and inclusion are manifested in our daily actions. We strive to be a company where every member of our network of employees feels welcomed and embraced as their true authentic selves, and one where the many vibrant experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives that make up our special organization are celebrated and valued. We’re doing that in a number of ways, with a focus on workforce diversity and bolstering support of long-standing DE&I initiatives like talent pipelines, Employee Resource Groups, and employee volunteerism. We’ve launched several new efforts, from our enterprise-wide DE&I Day about implicit bias to our DE&I speaker series featuring renowned subject matter experts and authors including Isabel Wilkerson.
We also know that as a media and technology company, we have a unique opportunity to use our collective platforms, programs, and talent to create a more equitable society. We identified key areas aligned with our businesses – digital equity, small businesses, and media & awareness – and asked how we could go further, faster, to effect change. These areas were chosen because they represent opportunities where Comcast can step in, have a lasting impact, and strengthen and uplift our communities.
Education is one of the most significant ways we can do this. The sudden shift to distance learning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more clear that a lack of or limitations to Internet access can shut students out of their fair chance at strong, successful futures. Recognizing this and the fact that the impact on communities of color is vastly disproportionate, we reaffirmed and reinforced our company’s long-standing commitment to addressing the digital divide and the homework gap with the expansion of our low-cost Internet Essentials program. We also took an aggressive step with a plan to launch more than 1,000 new Lift Zones by the end of 2021, equipping community centers across the nation with WiFi and technology and providing safe places for students and families to get online. And, we built new and expanded partnerships with organizations like Black Girls Code, Reboot Representation, Echoing Green, and Per Scholas. These programs provide invaluable on-the-ground resources directly to the communities and students who most need it, creating new pathways to opportunity and economic mobility.
Small businesses form the core of local economies. Over the past year, small businesses – particularly Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC)-owned, small businesses – were hardest hit by the impacts of COVID-19. We founded our Comcast RISE initiative to help these local entrepreneurs gain access to valuable resources. Through the program, they now have a stronger foothold to keep their businesses growing, even in the face of the ongoing pandemic. To date, we’ve awarded more than 700 Black-owned small businesses with marketing and technology resources and makeovers. We have also recommitted to amplifying underrepresented voices and sharing culturally representative stories – announcing a multiyear agreement and partnership with Sean “Diddy” Combs’ REVOLT and developing content with creators including LeBron James, Ava DuVernay, Justin Lin, and Tanya Saracho. And we continue to partner with civil rights organizations and third-party partners who are fervently working to end systemic inequality in communities across the nation.
2020 was a pivotal year for advancements related to DE&I around the world, and many are wondering if the energy, focus, and resolve will remain. I can assure you that at Comcast it will not only be sustained but will continue to grow. We’re off to a great start in 2021 with key new initiatives. We expanded the Comcast RISE program with the launch of the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, which will provide $5 million in grants to hundreds of BIPOC-owned small businesses. We launched NBCU Academy – a new multiplatform journalism training and development program for four-year university and community college students through education, on-campus training, and online programming. The multiyear partnership involves 17 academic partners including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and colleges with significant Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Black, Indigenous, and tribal populations. We also launched Black Experience on Xfinity – a first-of-its kind destination featuring high-quality content from many of Xfinity's existing network partners and emerging Black content creators – endorsed by the African American Film Critics Association.
As Chief Diversity Officer, I have the privilege of leading these efforts in partnership with Craig Robinson at NBCUniversal, and I am grateful for our strong and ever-growing team of leaders and employees who bring fresh ideas, passion, and support every day. I am inspired and motivated by them, and by the millions of individuals around the world who are working together to effect the change we so desperately need to see. In collaboration with our partners, we’re proud of the impact we’ve had and are eager to continue listening, learning, and strengthening our DE&I work. Together, the future is bright.