ViacomCBS has committed $5 million to social justice causes, set a virtual community day for June 18th and is preparing to announce new members of its combined global inclusion advisory committee, said CEO Bob Bakish in a memo to employees Friday.
Media and entertainment companies have contributed cash and also taken a series of measures over the past ten days to honor George Floyd, who was killed by police in Minneapolis last week, sparking of a wave of national outrage and protests. Nickelodeon and other ViacomCBS cable channels went dark for a period on Black Tuesday, along with much of the indusry, to honor Floyd. That day, ViacomCBS offered online counseling sessions for staffers. Bakish said in today’s memo that the company had donated $12 million over the past two years to organizations promoting racial equality as part of an effort to create “a more equitable company, communities and countries. But we must do more and do better.”
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In coming weeks, he said, ViacomCBS will be announcing new appointees to the Global Inclusion Advisory Committee that guides and oversee companywide diveristy and inclusion initiatives. It is developing dashboards to provide an overview of new hires, promotions and terminations through the lens of gender and ethnicity, which will be reviewed every quarter. It will share diversity and inclusion metrics publicly.
The $5 million will go to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Equal Justice Initiative, Amnesty International, National Bail Out, The Bail ProjectT, Community Coalition.
Bob Bakish memo:
The past few weeks have raised to the surface the longstanding pain of racism and inequality that so many people in our communities endure each day. The fact is the world has missed the mark on fighting for social justice and equality and we need to do more, now.
Our efforts to amplify the voices of Black communities, condemn systemic racism, and honor George Floyd and other victims of racial injustice are only a handful of the actions we’re taking to stand up for what’s right – and it’s so important our company has responded and rallied over the past two weeks.
And this work didn’t start last week. It builds on a legacy of working to ensure we create a more equitable company, communities and countries. But we must do more and do better. I truly believe that action is more important than ever, and I want to make sure you know some of the many initiatives already underway across the company, many of which will be accelerated and expanded.
Since the merger a few months ago, Marva Smalls and the Office of Global Inclusion have been hard at work integrating our Diversity & Inclusion teams, setting the shared inclusion agenda for the company, and launching new and scaling existing initiatives, with collaboration across the company. These efforts include:
- Global Inclusion Advisory Committee (GIAC) – Comprised of leaders from across the company, GIAC helps to guide and oversee our companywide D&I initiatives in partnership with the Global Inclusion team. We will be announcing the new appointees from our combined companies in the coming weeks. Thanks again to the senior leaders who have agreed to serve.
- Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)– Our ERGs embody the spirit of diversity and inclusion by providing a forum for employees to flourish personally and professionally while offering direct business support to all our brands. Our ERGs hold over 200 events globally every year, and more than 50% of our workforce are members of these employee-led groups, including AMP (Asian American Media Professionals); CBS RAD (Respect, Appreciation and Development); The BEAT (Black Employee Resource Team); SOMOS, which centers on the LatinX/Hispanic experience; Fusion, celebrating cultural diversity across our international offices; Emerge & CBS Pride, which focus on the LGBTQ+ community; CBS’ Veterans group; as well as HERE and the Women’s Networking Group.
- Trainings – Unconscious bias and inclusive leadership training programs will continue across the company, along with other next practice initiatives.
- Data + Metrics – Building on work done at legacy Viacom, we are in the process of developing dashboards to provide an overview of new hires, promotions and terminations through the lens of gender and ethnicity, which will be reviewed every quarter; in addition, we will be sharing our diversity and inclusion metrics publicly in the coming months.
- Global Inclusion Week – Launched last year, the week of interactive, immersive and informative sessions will return in September to advance important discussions on bias and actions we can all take.
We also have a variety of programs to help ensure representation in front of and behind the camera, as well as through our partnerships and supply chain. This includes our ViewFinder Emerging Directors Program, Nickelodeon Writing and Artist Programs, CBS Showcase, CBS ON TOUR, CBS Writers Mentoring Program & Directing Initiative and the ViacomCBS Supplier Diversity Program, among others.
In addition, over the past two years, we have given over $12 million to organizations that support and impact communities of color, and we are committing an additional $5 million today to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Equal Justice Initiative, Amnesty International, National Bail Out, The Bail Project, Community Coalition and others in support of their tireless work to ensure equality and justice. I’d also remind you of our employee donation matching program – which has seen record levels of engagement over the past two weeks – as an important outlet for contributing to these efforts. And our brands will continue to dedicate and donate a significant amount of air time to these very important causes, as they’ve done so powerfully over the past week.
Our annual day of service will be another important outlet for action. On Thursday, June 18th, Virtual Community Day will allow us to come together across ViacomCBS to make an impact in this time of need. To express. To act. To do some good. Even while we’re at home.
Early next week, our Corporate Social Responsibility team will share more information about the virtual volunteer opportunities they’re curating – including opportunities to connect and engage around social justice and other ongoing community needs. We also strongly encourage you to personalize the day and will provide resources to inspire you to create your own experiences and actions. I urge all of you to take as much time as you’re able and participate in any way you choose.
Most importantly, I want all of you to understand this is a sustained, ongoing commitment from our company that won’t end when the current outrage and news cycle inevitably does. We fundamentally believe that a more diverse and inclusive company – that does business with equally diverse and inclusive partners and talent – is good for business, and our communities.
To that end, we will be circling back with additional commitments the company is making in the coming days and months, including specific goals on how we will quantify and hold ourselves accountable for progress.