By: Michele Egan
If the level of corporate social responsibility messaging in the Super Bowl ads left you cold, February has arrived with a warm-up. We continue to see many companies make candid DEI statements and take tangible actions toward racial justice that go beyond a simple statement or hollow tweet celebrating Black History Month. As we predicted, authentic, purpose-driven partnerships that are integrated into company culture throughout the year are key to impact in 2021. And, it is clear racial injustice will remain one of the important issues.
If you’re struggling to evolve your cause marketing strategies in response to the rapid changes of 2020—that’s fair. Through recent discussion groups we’ve led with nonprofit cause partnership practitioners, our team has gained updated insight into the challenges.
Grounded in this perspective, I hope you get some fresh inspiration from initiatives we see moving the needle on DEI that goes beyond the month of February. Keep these social impact trends in mind:
- Multi-year community investment
- Corporate grant funding
- Collaboration with Black artists and entrepreneurs
- Employee engagement
Bank of America Invests $1 Billion Over 4 Years to Support Communities of Color
The multi-faceted economic opportunity initiative includes partnerships with:
- Historically Black colleges and universities
- Institutions that support the hiring of Hispanic candidates
- High schools and community colleges
These social impact efforts are above and beyond the $100 million Bank of America previously donated to its nonprofit partners across communities.
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation Give $14.3 Million to Racial Equity Initiatives
With an expanded focus on health care inequities, including accelerating vaccinations, 16 groups will receive funding, including:
- American Heart Association Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund, which works to reduce health disparities
- Association of Black Foundation Executives
- Harlem Children’s Zone
- Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (The King Center)
The funds will be distributed through a new racial equity center that focuses on finances, healthcare, education and criminal justice.
Under Armour Launches Black History Collection
In celebration of Black History Month, Baltimore-based Under Armour partnered with an independent local photographer and community leader to create images for a new collection of athletic apparel. It features photos of Black culture and individual resilience in the company’s hometown. Proceeds benefit Wide Angle Youth Media, a community nonprofit that gives young people access to cameras and mentoring in media arts.
Go Daddy and Mo’s Bows Make Donation Per Purchase
Also in honor of Black History Month, Go Daddy, a hosting service for e-commerce websites, and Moziah Bridges, owner of Mo’s Bows homemade ties, came together through fashion that promotes social impact. GoDaddy has previously worked with Black-owned businesses through its Empower program, which launched in 2017 and has delivered more than 300 workshops. More than 3,500 entrepreneurs have graduated from the Empower program. Bridges created a bowtie symbolizing what Black History Month means to him. All sales proceeds will be donated to The Black Upstart, which provides training to Black entrepreneurs.
Salesforce’s resource group for Black employees and allies is called BOLDforce. The Black Organization for Leadership and Development aims to elevate Black voices, provide career development opportunities, facilitate DEI and give back to underrepresented youth. Programs this February have included:
- #WokeWednesday conversations with American civil rights activist DeRay McKesson
- Speaking Without Words, a professional development program emphasizing personal branding and communication
- Speaking engagements featuring:
- Creator and host of REVOLT TV’s Maconomics Ross Mac
- Uché Blackstock, board-certified emergency medicine physician and founder of Advancing Health Equity
Watchwords for partner-driven social impact initiatives are quickly emerging:
- Influencer engagement
- Contemporary messaging
- New types of deliverables