Jun 19, 2020 - Economy

Half of the Fortune 100 pledge $2B to fight inequality

Data: Fortune 500, Axios analysis of company statements, get the data; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon, Naema Ahmed/Axios
Data: Fortune 500, Axios analysis of company statements, get the data; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon, Naema Ahmed/Axios

Since our Monday story on Fortune 100 companies' donations to battle racism and inequality, the tally has risen to more than $2 billion and now includes 50 firms, according to company announcements and an Axios analysis.

Why it matters: Pressure is growing for wealthy corporations to speak out on social issues and to back up those words with sizable funding. More are doing so than ever before and in a much more public way.

  • Over the past week, PepsiCo announced a $400 million contribution over five years to "lift up Black communities and increase Black representation" at the company.
  • Less public-facing companies like AbbVie, Dow Chemical and Caterpillar are also joining in, with each announcing commitments of over $1 million.

By the numbers: The top 10 companies account for the lion's share of money pledged, with $1.86 billion of the $2.05 billion total.

  • The top 10 companies have committed to an average of 1.14% of their 2019 profits. That raises the average by about 6 times from what it was as of Monday.
  • The other 40 companies have committed 0.05% of their 2019 profits.

Yes, but: The donations are still literally pennies on the dollar when compared to the collective $500 billion in profits made last year and many lack specific details on how the companies plan to ensure their donations will make a difference.

  • Activists say they want to see increased hiring and retention of black workers as well as increased wages for existing employees in addition to the monetary commitments.

Between the lines: Most of the companies that donated (and some that did not) have made bold, unequivocal statements condemning racism and clearly voicing support for the victims of police killings.

  • At least 29 of the Fortune 100 companies have released statements including the word "racism."

What they're saying: "As people around the world demand justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and far too many others, we have been thinking hard about how PepsiCo can help dismantle the systemic racial barriers that for generations have blocked social and economic progress for Black people in this country," PepsiCo chairman and CEO Ramon Laguarta said in a LinkedIn post announcing the commitment on Monday.

  • "We know that the first step toward change is to speak up, so I want to be very clear: Black Lives Matter, to our company and to me."
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