Are words of support no longer enough?
On Friday, Nike committed $40 million over the next four years to support the black community in the U.S. In a separate statement, basketball legend Michael Jordan and the Nike-owned Jordan Brand announced they’ll be giving $100 million over the next ten years to “organizations dedicated to ensuring racial equality, social justice and greater access to education.”
“We know Black Lives Matter,” Nike CEO John Donahoe wrote in an employee memo. “We must act, and we must act to help create lasting change that addresses the systematic racism in our society.”
Nike’s “most important priority,” he said, is to fix its internal challenges around diversity and inclusion.
Other retailers and brands in recent days likewise announced financial contributions and/or have taken concrete actions to address racial inequity as consumers appear to be increasingly looking for brands to move beyond only taking stands on issues. For many, donations had already been made to fight the coronavirus epidemic.
“Consumers are done with platitudes and empty statements,” Ludovica Cesareo, assistant professor of marketing at Lehigh University, told The Wall Street Journal. “They want material action.”
On Friday, Walmart committed $100 million over five years to create a new center on racial equity. CEO Doug McMillon said, “The goal of the center is to help advance economic opportunity and healthier living, including issues surrounding the social determinants of health, strengthening workforce development and related educational systems, and support criminal justice reform with an emphasis on examining barriers to opportunity faced by those exiting the system.”
Target pledged $10 million to support groups working toward social justice and also offered 10,000 hours of pro-bono consulting services for small businesses owned by people of color in the Twin Cities to help with rebuilding efforts.
Best Buy promised to establish more than 100 new Teen Tech Centers, which help middle and high school students from disinvested communities receive free technology training. Amazon.com, Apple, Glossier, Gap, Home Depot, Lululemon, McDonald’s, Sephora, Starbucks and Warby Parker are among others making contributions to social justice groups.
- Nike Inc. Statement on Commitment to the Black Community – Nike
- Jordan Brand and Michael Jordan Statement on Commitment to the Black Community – Nike
- Brands Like Nike and Adidas Speak Out Against Racism. Is It Enough? – The Wall Street Journal
- Making a Difference in Racial Equity: Walmart CEO Doug McMillon’s Full Remarks – Walmart
- Target Commits $10 Million and Ongoing Resources for Rebuilding Efforts and Advancing Social Justice – Target
- A Note From Best Buy’s CEO: We Will Do Better – Best Buy
- Amazon donates $10 million to organizations supporting justice and equity – Amazon.com
- Brands Are Increasingly Supporting #BlackLivesMatter, But Advocates Want More Than Words – Adweek
- Here are the companies donating to racial justice causes – Yahoo Money
- Companies Taking A Public Stand In The Wake Of George Floyd’s Death – Forbes
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you agree that consumers are generally demanding more than statements of solidarity from brands and retailers around social causes or is racial inequality a unique issue? What guidelines would you recommend setting for such initiatives?