Google commits $175m to support black business owners and developers

The biggest allocation of $100m is directed towards venture capital firms and start-ups owned by black entrepreneurs

Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, announced a three-month digital accelerator programme for high potential start-ups founded by blacks. AFP
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Google has introduced a $175 million (Dh642.3m) racial equity initiative with a focus on supporting black business owners, start-up founders, job seekers and developers.

The company divided the package into four categories, with the biggest allocation of $100m being directed towards black-led capital firms, start-ups and organisations supporting black entrepreneurs.

“Beyond our products, we know that racial equity is inextricably linked to economic opportunity … creating meaningful change starts within our own company,” Sundar Pichai, company’s chief executive, said.

The California-based company will spend $50m in financing and allocating grants for small businesses that are focused on the black community, whereas $15m will be spent on training black job seekers to help them grow their skills.

Another $10m is being assigned to help improve the black community’s access to education, equipment and economic opportunities in Google’s own developer ecosystem.

This fund is in addition to Google-owned YouTube’s $100m pledge to "amplifying and developing the voices of black creators and artists and their stories" over several years.

The announcements come in response to recent protests in the US and elsewhere that call attention to long-standing discrimination against African-Americans, following the death of George Floyd in police custody last month.

The tech giant is also aiming to improve diversity within higher levels of its own workforce, it said.

“We are working to improve black representation at senior levels and committing to a goal to improve leadership representation of underrepresented groups by 30 per cent by 2025,” said Mr Pichai.

“To help achieve this, we will post senior leadership roles externally as well as internally, and increase our investments … we will take the same approach across regions, using site and country-specific plans to recruit and hire more underrepresented Googlers.”

The company also launched a three-month digital accelerator programme for high potential Seed to Series A start-ups founded by black entrepreneurs.

It is committing nearly $3m to help close racial equality gaps in computer science education and increase black representation in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Other big tech businesses such as Amazon and Facebook have also announced increased funding for black causes, while Apple introduced a $100m racial equity and justice initiative that will start in the US and expand globally over time.