Writer: Catie Schwartzman
2 min read February 2021 — Fostering a healthy environment for minorities in the workplace is front of mind for Atlanta business leaders. This has fostered more diverse hires at companies and has encouraged minorities to start their own businesses and become community leaders.
The focus on diversity and inclusion has gained even greater relevance in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic that has disproportionately affected minorities financially. Companies and business leaders are responding.
One example is Comcast’s “Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment” (RISE) program that was launched this week. This program concentrates on five cities that experienced sharp declines in spending during the COVID-19 crisis, Atlanta among them. The RISE program invites small businesses owned by Black people, Indigenous people and people of color to apply for $10,000 grants. Comcast is concentrating on small businesses that have been in business for three or more years with one to 25 employees.
“Business owners of color are historically disadvantaged when accessing capital,” said Connie E. Evans, CEO and president of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, a partner organization for Comcast RISE. “Now, more than ever, it is important to invest in these small businesses, especially those in markets such as Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Houston and Philadelphia who have seen significant economic impact from the pandemic.”
This initiative is just the beginning for Comcast. The RISE program is part of a larger $100 million Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative launched last summer, in which Comcast NBCUniversal plans to allocate $75 million in cash and $25 million in media to fight injustice and inequality over the next three years.
Atlanta-based Home Depot has also deepened its commitment to diversity and inclusion amid the COVID-19 pandemic to set people of color soon entering the workforce up for success. Annually, Home Depot underscores the importance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) within the education system with its Retool Your School program. This week, Home Depot doubled its commitment to the program, offering up $1 million in grants that will support “campus improvements” at HBCUs. This accounts for 30 projects to distribute $20,000-$75,000 in grants per school.
Atlanta has a high percentage of Black-owned businesses: nearly 30%. Career-resource website Overheard on Conference Calls ranked Atlanta No. 5 among 124 cities on its list, “The Best Cities for Black-Owned Businesses in 2021.” The ranking was based on the percentage of Black-owned businesses, the average pay for employees, annual revenue of Black-owned businesses and the local unemployment rate.
With continued commitment from leaders within the business community, Atlanta is positioning itself as a leading metro for the professional success and leadership of Black people, Indigenous people and people of color.
Photo Credit: https://www.atlantaga.gov/residents/new-residents