As protests continue in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, the tech industry has responded with pledges from individual companies to address their own shortcomings in supporting Black employees and diversifying their workforces.
The biggest tech corporations – Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and others – came out with initial statements in support of Black Lives Matter and promises for more robust action. Some have followed up with detailed action plans for hiring and monetary compensation.
We’ve listed the BLM pledges from the biggest tech companies below, though it’s by no means an exhaustive list. Given TechRadar’s broad coverage, we’ve also included the biggest game companies and their actions.
We've reached out to every brand for more information and timelines on their pledges, and have included clarification we received from those that responded.
And for full disclosure, we’ve also included what TechRadar’s parent company, Future, has pledged to do in support of Black Lives Matter.
If you would like to support the Black Lives Matter movement and community, we’ve put together a guide explaining many ways to do so.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai released an initial statement pledging $12 million for organizations ($1 million each) dedicated to addressing racial inequity, the first two of which were Center for Policing Equity and the Equal Justice Initiative.
A second statement released later announced the next four recipients: the Leadership Conference Education Fund, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s Policing Reform Campaign, and the Movement for Black Lives.
The second statement announced internal company commitments to improve underrepresented group representation in leadership roles by 30 percent by 2025, introduce a new talent role dedicated to promotion and retention of employees from underrepresented groups, chartered a task force of Black employees to propose company-wide accountability changes within 90 days, and pilot a new company-wide training to explore system racism and racial consciousness by early 2021.
Google's list of commitments is specific and rather extensive, so we've broken it down below.
Google's financial commitments related to BLM issues amount to $175 million in total funding, some going directly to Black businesses and some to Black-led capital firms, as well as skills training for Black job seekers.
That includes $50 million in loans and grants for Black businesses, $100 million in funding to Black-led capital firms and startups, and $10 million to expand Black developer access to education, equipment, and financial opportunities within the Google developer ecosystem.
$15 million is also being earmarked for skill-growing training for Black job seekers, with a third of that going to the National Urban League to scale an existing program to help 15,000 individuals with career advice and navigation, as well as digital career skill training for 1,900 job seekers.
The $50 million in loans and grants are added to a previous $125 million Grow with Google fund the tech giant announced in March as a partnership with the Opportunity Finance Network: the funding is routed through community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to in turn lend to small and at-risk businesses that may not get funding elsewhere.
The $50 million addition is specifically dedicated to helping Black-owned businesses; Google
announced the first six CDFIs included in this measure to receive a total of $15.5 million in financing and $750,000 in grants, and a month later, four more CDFIs to receive $23 million in loans and $125,000 in grants.
Accelerator for Black startup founders
The company is also launching a Google for Startups Accelerator, a virtual three-month program explicitly for Black startup founders that pairs them with Google experts, includes them in workshops, and points them toward a new $5 million fund dedicated to Black founders impacted by COVID and/or locked out of capital.
Google's efforts also include expanding its investment in educational initiatives.The tech giant's CS First curriculum and Applied Digital Skills program is being expanded to reach more Black middle and high school students, and Google is giving a $1 million grant to the DonorsChoose #ISeeMe campaign for teacher materials as well as a $250,000 grant to Black in AI to increase Black representation in the AI field.
Existing product tweaks
Public-facing Google products are getting tweaked, too – for instance, the company has added a Black-owned business attribute that merchants can add to their Google Business Profile, essentially to inform folks who want to make more purchases from Black-owned businesses.
Google also announced a new partnership with the US Black Chamber of Commerce to provide digital skills resources and training to 20,000 Black-owned small and medium businesses.
Google also pointed to its Google.org Fellowship program, which allows employees to apply for six-month stints doing pro bono work for worthy causes.
In May 2020, Google.org Fellows were announced to be assisting the Morehouse School of Medicine (with a $1 million Google grant) in studying the racial impact of the coronavirus.
After tweets supporting Black employees from the main Microsoft account (and echoed on the Xbox account) Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella released an initial statement that reaffirmed its existing initiatives to diversify its supplier chain and reform criminal justice, as well as a $1.5 million donation to six organizations ($250,000 each).
These are: the Black Lives Matter Foundation, Equal Justice Initiative, Innocence Project, The Leadership Conference, Minnesota Freedom Fund, and NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, plus matching company employee donations for ‘eligible organizations.’
Microsoft followed up with a second statement weeks later with a list of concrete financial pledges. These included adding $150 million in diversity and inclusion efforts to double the number of Black people managers, senior individual contributors, and senior leaders within Microsoft’s US workforce by 2025. We've broken down its remaining commitments below:
The company also committed to some personnel reforms, including mandatory training on allyship, covering, and privilege in the workplace starting in fiscal year 2021.
The company also expanded leadership development programs for Black mid-level employees and managers in their promotion to higher leadership positions.
Microsoft says it will reinforce the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion by giving more support to mid-level employees during the promotion and career-building process.
At the higher level, the company is increasing scrutiny of diveristy in inclusion for CVP and GM-level executives, as well as providing coaching to address systemic obstacles within their departments.
In that second statement, Microsoft also committed to doubling the number of Black-owned suppliers over the next three years and spend $500 million with existing and new suppliers.
In the same period, the company pledges to expand business with Black-owned financial institutions and double the number of transactions through them, create a $100 million program to target minority-owned depository institutions, and establish a $50 million investment fund to support Black-owned small businesses.
The company also committed to expanding the number of Black-owned partners by 20 percent, establish a new $50 million partner fund to provide loans for said partners (especially to float them through startup phases), and give $20 million in financing as well as $3 million in training programs for financial, technical, and market readiness.
Lastly in the statement, Microsoft committed to expanding its current justice reform initiative by $50 million over five years, which will further its goals to identify racial disparities in policing, support treatment alternatives to incarceration, and promote racial equity in prosecutor actions for crime charges and sentencing.
Microsoft will also provide $5 million in cash grants to and increase tech support for community-based nonprofit organizations led by and serving communities of color, as well as provide affordable PCs and broadband access to communities of color to provide telehealth and educational services.
Microsoft also followed Amazon and IBM in preventing law enforcement agencies from using its facial recognition tech until federal laws are passed that dictate how it can be used without infringing on civil rights and liberties, per The Washington Post.
Since these statements were released, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to TechRadar that it is continuing to take action across all of its stated commitments.
While progress is ongoing, more information will be released in the company's annual public disclosure typically in October or November – specifically within the Annual Diversity and Inclusion Report.
The company will continue to address representation progress internally with its employees, the spokesperson concluded.
Apple initially released a statement pledging to continue efforts for inclusion and diversity, as well as an unnamed amount donated to the Equal Justice Initiative.
Soon after, CEO Tim Cook tweeted a video (below) wherein he pledged that Apple would create a $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, which is committed to challenging “systemic barriers to opportunity and dignity that exist for communities of color and particularly communities of color” with focus on education, economic equality, and criminal justice reform.
Cook also vowed an increase spending with Black-owned businesses and increasing representation among Apple’s supply and service partners. and increasing Apple’s supply chain as well as the creation of a Developer Entrepreneur Camp launched ahead of WWDC 2020 dedicated to fostering and lifting up Black developers.
The unfinished work of racial justice and equality call us all to account. Things must change, and Apple's committed to being a force for that change. Today, I'm proud to announce Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, with a $100 million commitment. pic.twitter.com/AoYafq2xlpJune 11, 2020
Since then, Apple has announced it will open 10 more regional coding centers on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), expanding its existing Community Education Initiative dedicated to establishing such centers for HBCUs and their surrounding communities.
This expansion brings the program to a new total of 24 centers spread across academic campuses and areas that predominantly serve majority Black and Brown students.
Amazon released a statement in support of Black Lives Matter that pledged $10 million total to twelve organizations: ACLU, Black Lives Matter Foundation, Brennan Center for Justice, Equal Justice Initiative, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Urban League, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, United Negro College Fund, and Year Up.
The company also price-matched employee donations to those organizations until July 6, which combined contributed another $17 million.
Amazon is also pledging a grant for an unnamed sum to be donated by its internal Black Employee Network to fund local organizations dedicated to education and racial equality initiatives.
In a separate statement, Amazon pledged to withhold its Rekognition facial recognition software from police use for a year while urging local government and Congress to enact regulations governing ethical use of facial recognition tech.
Shortly thereafter, Sony Music Group announced a $100 million global fund to support social justice and anti-racist initiatives around the world.
Sony was also one of the founding backers of the Black Information Network, a 24/7 all-audio news channel founded to provide a trusted and objective coverage with a Black voice and perspective.
Sony Pictures Entertainment started a new inclusion initiative, Sony Pictures Action, dedicated to racial justice and reform that will also work on internal diversity and inclusion, per Deadline.
The initiative will also donate an undisclosed amount to and match employee donations to "such organizations as Advancement Project, American Black Film Festival, Collateral Consequences of Conviction Justice Project (LMU Loyola Law School), Community Coalition, Equal Justice Initiative, Fair Count, Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington, National Urban League, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Vera Institute of Justice."
Nintendo tweeted its support of the Black community, but has not made any public commitments for any financial contributions or company actions. The company did not respond to TechRadar's inquiry on further action.
Electronic Arts released a statement committing $1 million total to an unnamed number of organizations fighting for racial justice, starting with the Equal Justice Initiative and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund.
The company also double-matched funds donated to these and other local organizations through the YourCause program throughout the month of June.
The company also gave each of its global employees an additional paid day annually to volunteer within their communities.
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick pledged a personal $1 million donation to the United Negro College Fun, the Equal Justice Initiative, and Management Leadership for Tomorrow, as well as a $1 million personal pledge and $1 million from Activision Blizzard itself to match employee donations, according to an official tweet.
Separately, Blizzard pledged it would be "reviewing our partnerships to identify opportunities to support Black-owned and diverse businesses, and to amplify the voices of Black content creators and influencers."
Take-Two Interactive's various sub-brands, including Rockstar and 2K, shut down the online servers for games GTA Online, Red Dead Online, NBA 2K, Dragon City, and Monster Legends for two hours on June 4 in honor of George Floyd, per Kotaku.
In a follow-up tweet to the shutdown announcement, Rockstar encouraged followers to support families of the victims of racial injustice and Black-owned businesses in America.
Ubisoft pledged a $100,000 donation to the NAACP and Black Lives Matter (presumably the movement) in a tweeted announcement condemning systemic racism.
Ubisoft subsidiary Blue Mammoth Games (Brawlhalla) pledged a $30,000 donation split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Campaign Zero, and the Atlanta Solidarity Fund.
Ubisoft NCSA has pledged $1 million over the next five years to improve diversity and inclusion within its workplace and communities, and matched employee donations to contribute $22,000 total.
Ubisoft also donated $5,000 each to the organizations Black Girls Code and Afrique Au Féminin.
Since then, the company held a panel in its Black Game Pros series inviting Black gaming industry professionals to lend advice for folks wanting to join the industry as discuss how to channel the Black Lives Matter energy into lasting change in gaming.
Ahead of its Ubi Forward digital showcase on September 10, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot acknowledged the litany of accusations of sexual abuse and harassment by Ubisoft managers and executives that had come to light over the past few months.
He announced the company would be investing an additional $1 million into its Graduate Program, the company's initiative for recent graduates with Bachelor's and Master's degrees to get their start in the gaming industry, and use the money to 'create opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women and people of color.'
Ahead of #UbiForward, a message from our CEO Yves Guillemot: pic.twitter.com/NDfOj4tFk7September 10, 2020
Guillemot also announced Ubisoft's support of the Black Lives Matter movement, stating the company will make an unspecified donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Future, PLC, the parent company of TechRadar, has publicly pledged to “raise up Black, Asian, and Middle Eastern communities, contributors & colleagues” through a series of actions, including: diversity targets for contributor spend, company-wide inclusion and diversity training, and $1 million in advertising space across Future publications to organizations supporting Black Lives Matter.
The company is also dedicating recruitment marketing spend to sites and partnering with agencies that focus on Black communities.
The company pledged to exclusively partner with DreamYard for its 2020 internship program in the US.
Internally, Future sites have been mandated to have equal representation of Black people in original and stock photography as well as on the company home page.
The company has invested in further inclusion and diversity training, and will dedicate recruitment marketing spend to sites and agencies that focus on Black communities.