Amex commits $1 billion to diversity action plan

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American Express has announced it will spend $1 billion to promote racial, ethnic and gender equity internally and externally via a recently established corporate diversity office.

Amex Executive Vice President Robert Childs, who joined the company in 1984, earlier this year was named to head Amex’s new Office of Enterprise Inclusion, Diversity and Business Engagement, the company said in a Thursday press release.

The moves expand on plans Amex announced in July to direct several million dollars in grants and investments to Black-owned U.S. businesses following racial protests surrounding the death of George Floyd.

“To build on the foundation of work we are doing to drive inclusion, equity and diversity, we are announcing several actions today to advance our progress against our priorities, with clear objectives and goals for which we will hold ourselves accountable,” Steve Squeri, Amex’s chairman and CEO, said in the release.

Amex said it will double its spending with diverse and minority-owned suppliers in the U.S. with the goal of reaching $750 million by the end of 2024, including increasing its spending with Black-owned suppliers by at least $100 million annually.

Robert Childs, Executive Vice President and head of Office of Enterprise Inclusion, Diversity and Business Engagement, American Express

Amex will also push access to capital and financial education to 250,000 Black-owned small and midsize U.S. businesses, in part through collaboration with Accion Opportunity Fund, and the company also aims to give 100 Black female entrepreneurs grants of $25,000 plus business resources to promote business ventures.

To battle systemic racism, Amex will distribute $50 million in grants through the end of 2024 to nonprofits fightling inequality and promoting social justice for underrepresented groups. In its nonprofit-focused American Express Leadership Academy, Amex also plans to boost participation of individuals from underrepresented groups from 50% to 75%, it said.

“We are committed to mobilizing our collective resources across the company to make an even greater impact for our colleagues, customers and communities,” Childs said in the release.

Amex noted that at the end of last year, Black and Latinx people represented 12.5% and 12.9% of the company’s U.S. workforce, and women were more than 50% of the global workforce. It also has achieved pay equity, it said.

To further its diversity goals, Amex has developed a comprehensive strategy for recruiting and developing employees from underrepresented groups and has launched a self-identification program for workers to share their diversity information with the company, it said.

American Express recently partnered with the Washington, D.C.-based crowdfunding platform GlobalGiving to expand the reach of Amex’s existing Give2Gether charitable gift-matching program, according to the release.

JPMorgan Chase earlier this month announced plans to spend $30 billion over the next five years to advance racial equality, including tying top executives’ compensation to achieving progress on diversity targets.

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