How 7 payments industry leaders vowed to promote racial diversity

Facing Wall Street analysts for the first time after the murder of George Floyd, CEOs of major payment companies joined other financial services firms in promising to improve fairness and opportunities for Black people and other underrepresented groups.

Most of the plans outlined during recent quarterly earnings calls lacked granular details, but leaders gave high priority to addressing racial inequities, with most characterizing their moves as first steps.

What remains to be seen is how much attention these companies pay to Black concerns in the coming months, as the spotlight increasingly focuses on Silicon Valley’s often glaring lack of diversity, especially among Black communities and women.

According to Republic, a firm with offices in New York and San Francisco that aims to expand and diversify venture capital investment opportunities, 87% of VC-backed CEOs are white, 12% and Latinx and only 1% are Black.

Overall 97% of VC-backed CEOs are men, and California is the home base for more than half, or 57% of VC-backed companies.

Following are the statements from CEOs of major payments companies to Wall Street in late July and early August:

Jack Dorsey
Jack Dorsey, co-founder and chief executive officer of Twitter Inc., listens during an interview in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, March 2, 2017. Electronic-payment company, Square Inc., run by Dorsey, is offering a range of new services, including loans and software that lets customers manage inventory and analyze sales. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Jack Dorsey, CEO, Square (Aug. 5)
“We’re investing in Black and racial and ethnic minority communities, and we’re looking for ways to drive racial justice through our business and products. I will also be personally putting more funds into organizations driving policy change through the Start Small initiative I announced months ago.”

Square in April pledged $1 billion to fund global coronavirus relief, including aid to specific underrepresented groups.
Ajay Banga, president and chief executive officer of Mastercard Inc.
Ajay Banga, president and chief executive officer of MasterCard Inc., speaks at the US-Africa Business Forum in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. A two-decade surge in growth in Africa suggests the poorest continent is starting to come to grips with its challenges and has raised the prospect of the "African lions" emulating the "Asian tiger" economies in the 21st century. Photographer: Drew Angerer/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Ajay Banga
Ajay Banga, president and CEO, Mastercard (July 30)
“We have launched a companywide, long-term initiative to drive change for our people, for the market we work in, and for society at large, including bolstering Black recruitment and training, driving financial inclusion and addressing the wealth and opportunity gap faced by Black communities. We must and we will capitalize on this opportunity to effect change.”
Tim Cook and Lisa Jackson
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., left, and Lisa Jackson, vice president of environment at Apple Inc., arrive for a state dinner in honor of French President Emmanuel Macron at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 24, 2018. President Donald Trump is delivering Macron the most lavish welcome for a foreign leader of his presidency so far, including his first state dinner. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
Tim Cook, CEO, Apple (July 30)
“As millions march for justice in big cities and small towns alike, we committed $100 million to launch Apple's racial equity and justice initiatives as well as new and renewed internal efforts to foster diversity and inclusion at all levels of the company."

Apple on June 11 announced a $100 million initiative to promote racial equality, concentrating on education, economic equality and criminal justice reform, led by Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives (pictured above with Tim Cook).
Dan Schulman, PayPal
Dan Schulman, president and chief executive officer of PayPal Holdings Inc., listens at the Sooner Than You Think London tech conference in London, U.K., on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. The two-day event features tech executives from PayPal, Slack, Mozilla, Uber, Google and others as well as officials such as Irelands privacy watchdog. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Dan Schulman, president and CEO, PayPal (July 29)
"In June, we announced a comprehensive $530 million commitment to support Black and minority businesses and to fight economic inequality. We felt it was necessary to not just condemn racism, but to commit to doing the necessary work over the long term to help create a more socially just society. We still have lots of work to do, but we are fully committed to a future where all people can live with dignity and respect.
Al Kelly, chief executive officer of Visa Inc., speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., on Monday, April 29, 2019. The conference brings together leaders in business, government, technology, philanthropy, academia, and the media to discuss actionable and collaborative solutions to some of the most important questions of our time. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg
Al Kelly, chairman and CEO, Visa (July 28)
“We’ve announced a number of actions including the establishment of a Visa scholars and jobs program. And very importantly, last week, we announced that we are committing to increasing the number of underrepresented U.S. vice presidents and above by 50% in the next three years and increasing the number of underrepresented U.S. colleagues within Visa overall by 50% in the next five years.”
Steve Squeri, chairman and CEO, American Express (July 24)
“As a first step, we made $3 million in grants in 2020 to several nonprofits that support the Black community. And as part of our recently launched Shop Small initiative, we pledged $10 million over the next four years to fund the coalition with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, bringing together to U.S. Black Chambers to provide grants to Black-owned small businesses.”
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Roger Hochschild, CEO, Discover Financial Services
Hochschild didn’t directly address Black Lives Matter during the company’s July 23 earnings call. But on July 6, Discover announced plans to invest $5 million in Black-owned restaurants. From now through Oct. 31, 2020, consumers can use all major social media platforms to nominate their favorite Black-owned restaurants and 200 nominees will be randomly selected to win $25,000.