Big Tech Pledged Billions To ‘Racial Justice’ Amid BLM Protests. Now They’re Laying Off Thousands
America’s top tech companies collectively pledged billions to various causes purporting to advance racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd. Now, as the tech industry has been battered, they’re laying off substantial portions of their workforce and closing job openings.
Since the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft have pledged at least $5 billion into nonprofits and business plans focused on racial equity since 2020, including massive funding commitments to black-owned businesses, according to data compiled by the Claremont BLM Funding Database. The companies have laid off tens of thousands of workers in recent months amid inflation, high interest rates and fear of a possible recession, according to CNBC News.
Following the murder of George Floyd by the police in May 2020 and the ensuing national protests, many companies made pledges to financially support the BLM movement and fight systemic racism and racial inequities; by August 2021, America’s top corporations had pledged a collective $49.5 billion to the movement, according to data compiled by The Washington Post.
Amazon, which pledged a combined $169.5 million to BLM-related causes, began firing 18,000 employees in January in its largest workforce reduction ever, according to CNBC. The company funded various groups including Black Lives Matter, the Brennan Center for Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and several others.
“Black lives matter. We stand in solidarity with our Black employees, customers, and partners, and are committed to helping build a country and a world where everyone can live with dignity and free from fear,” the company wrote in a 2020 press release.
Facebook pledged to spend $1 billion annually with “black and diverse suppliers” beginning in 2021, meaning they’ve hit $2 billion in pledges for that commitment. The company also promised to invest $100 million in black-owned small businesses, black creators, and nonprofits that serve the black community.
Facebook gave $5 million total to the Equal Justice Initiative, Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Innocence Project, $10 million towards racial justice groups generally, $10 million toward a Black Gaming Creator Program and $25 million to support black creators through a Facebook page created by black employees to elevate voices from the community.
Meta, Facebook’s parent company, will lay off 10,000 employees and close 5,000 job openings, according to a Tuesday announcement. The company previously fired 13% of its staff, more than 11,000 employees, in its largest layoffs ever beginning in November, according to CNBC.
Google announced in January that it plans to lay off 12,000 employees, according to CNBC; the company has given and pledged a combined $370 million to BLM-related causes since 2020. Google’s pledges included $12 million to groups seeking to address racial inequalities along with $25 million in ad grants to those groups, $3 million for closing the black education gap and a $175 million “economic opportunity package” for black businesses.
Google also pledged to spend at least $1 billion with diverse-owned suppliers each year, including $100 million with Black-owned businesses.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai made a series of commitments to racial equity on behalf of the company in the summer of 2020, including filling 30% of leadership positions with “underrepresented groups” by 2025 and “[doing] more to address representation challenges and focus on hiring, retention, and promotion at all levels.”
Microsoft, which has given or pledged a combined $246 million to BLM and race-related causes, will lay off 10,000 workers, according to a January announcement. The company pledged $51 million toward criminal justice, including $250,000 to the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation.
Apple pledged a combined $130 million as part of its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, with funds going towards academic and advocacy projects focused on “[dismantling] structures that perpetuate inequities and institutional racism.” The company has not implemented mass layoffs like other leading tech companies, but its recent slowdown on hiring and bonuses and other budget tightening moves have stirred speculation of possible layoffs.
Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. Amazon did not offer a comment prior to the publication of this story and Meta directed the DCNF to its press releases and declined to comment further.
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