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Microsoft stories investments in banks, funds and different packages supporting Black-owned firms

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Thousands of people take part in a Black Lives Matter protest march in Seattle in June 2020. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

Microsoft on Tuesday shared an update on its work to promote racial equity in the U.S. by investing in and working with Black and African American led financial institutions, suppliers and partners.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software and cloud giant offered an upbeat report, saying that in some cases programs that were expected to take years to build up have been accomplished in a matter of 18 months.

  • Microsoft reports that it has reached its goal of committing $100 million to mission-driven banks, which provide capital to diverse communities.
  • It beat its target of doubling the percentage of transactions that it conducts with Black and African American-owned financial institutions.
  • It showed a 300% increase in the number of Black and African American-owned suppliers in its supply chain.
  • As part of its Black Growth Partner Initiative, Microsoft created at $50 million fund to invest in small businesses and startups, and a $20 million financing program to support businesses owned by Black and African American partner companies.

The efforts are part of Microsoft’s three-pronged approach to addressing equity that were announced in June 2020 as Americans were confronting the murder of George Floyd and systemic racial injustice.

In October, the company reported on its progress to increase the diversity of its workforce, and in June it shared news of its programs to bolster Black and African American communities nationwide.

“Throughout this initiative, our teams have placed the highest priority on accountability, transparency, and
sustainable impact,” said Amy Hood, Microsoft executive vice president and chief financial officer, in a forward to Tuesday’s report.

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Microsoft employs 180,000 workers in more than 100 countries and in addition to its software, gaming and Azure cloud businesses also owns Github and LinkedIn. With a sizeable employee base and current market capitalization of $2.4 trillion, experts say that Microsoft’s leadership and actions on these issues can make a meaningful difference.

“Companies like Microsoft have the potential to influence every part of our social, political and economic lives,” said Elizabeth Umphress, a professor with the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, in an interview earlier this year.

“In this way, they could have a similar influence as national or state governments,” she said.

Other tech giants including Apple have rolled out racial equity programs or pledged funding to various groups.

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