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Community Manager
Community Manager
Member Specialist, Pledge 1%

Since the summer of 2020, companies across the globe promised over $50 billion in racial equity and justice initiatives. But how are companies actually spending that money? 


In this video, speakers from American Express, Nike, Zoom and the CEO of nonprofit The Highland Project discuss their internal and external initiatives around JEDI (justice, equity, diversity and inclusion). 


Read below for a discussion recap!



Definitions: American Express Clarifies Definitions for Scalable Change


An ill-defined commitment begs for vague or lackluster results. Each company profiled has a specific definition of success and strategy for achieving it. 


Richard Brown, Vice President of Social Impact at American Express, shared how his company chooses people-of-color-led (POC-led) businesses. Unlike the government sector, which lists very specific qualifications for minority- or women-owned businesses, the private sector definition of a POC-led business remains intangible. Here's how they defined it with internal stakeholders: 


AmEx Definition of POC-led Businesses.png



Authenticity: Nonprofit CEO Advises How to Maintain a Real Commitment


Gabrielle Wyatt, CEO of the Highland Project nonprofit that supports black women in creating multi-generational wealth and change,  looks at it from the other side of the table. Here are factors she examines when looking a business's authenticity.

The Highland Project- Commiting to DE&I.png


Alignment: Nike's Balance Between Internal and External Efforts


 Nike turns 50 in 2022. And as Vice President of Community and Social Impact at Nike, Caitlin Morris has seen the company evolve its DE&I initiatives over time. 


Nike has long been a company famous for its advocacy, and prides itself on using the brand to take a stand on important social issues. Because the company harnesses such large external influence, they can shine significant spotlight on important causes. For example, in addition to a grant to Black Girl Ventures, Nike also hosted a pitching competition for the nonprofit and featured their CEO Shelly Bell in an advertising campaign. This extra attention helped the nonprofit raise $3 million in additional funding from other companies and raised substantial awareness.  


However, they've recently turned their focus inwards with the Be, Do, Say initiative. Morris explains how the company holds themselves accountable by listening to employees and communities.


Grant-making: Zoom's Participatory Giving Pilot


Roxana ShrikhodaHead of Social Impact at Zoom, has been able to experiment with grant-giving — partially because the social impact department is only a year old. They focus primarily on BIPOC-led companies that wouldn't normally get grants, particularly companies under $5 million in size. 


"I don't buy the absorption myth where small organizations can’t absorb large checks. They can’t accept a check that no one gives them, and they can’t increase budget if no one gives them a budget," Shrikhoda explains. 


The program also practices a participatory giving approach with outside parties, which means that grantees participate in deciding where the money goes and how it is measured.


In their most recent $2 million round for BIPOC  teen mental health , Zoom worked with many external parties such as mental health experts. However, they also recruited a third-party facilitator to execute the grant: seven advisors decided who the grants went to and how they received them. All funds were multi-year, unrestricted, and without too heavy of a reporting lift.


Shirkhoda acknowledges that this progressive approach may not be possible for all projects or for companies with an entrenched way of giving, but she praises the idea of working with grantees directly. Specifically, she likes the concept of having nonprofits recommend how money is distributed and what metrics should be examined as success indicators. 


Additional Resources


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