The shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Wisconsin last week is a jarring reminder of the unrelenting brutality of racism in America. This latest use of excessive force on Black lives reminds us that we must remain vigilant and continue to demand racial justice. While our attention is constantly shifting with new headlines competing for our focus, the issues of systemic racism and police brutality persist despite a pivotal summer that energized our nation following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Recent incidents underscore the need for a national reckoning with racial inequity. We must continue to do our part to create a more equitable, inclusive country.
Earlier this summer, we outlined our commitment to stand against racism and injustice in our communities, support Black-owned businesses, and lay the groundwork for change that is long overdue. We also committed to supporting our Black employees, by looking inward to reexamine inclusivity within our own organization to ensure that we make the change we want to see in the world, here at Yelp. I’d like to share some of the work we’ve done as we continue to make progress on our commitment to further reshape how we support Black communities and communities of color, both inside and outside of Yelp.
Supporting Black-owned Businesses
Following the launch of our searchable Black-owned business attribute in partnership with My Black Receipt, we’ve seen more than 18,000 businesses adopt the attribute on Yelp. In the three weeks of the campaign, consumers spent $7.5 million with Black businesses, surpassing the initial $5 million goal. Searches for Black-owned businesses have continued to see significant increases across categories on Yelp (+6,520% compared to the same time last year*), signaling that our users remain committed to supporting the Black community as we all work towards a better, more equitable America for all.
Today, we continue to build on our efforts to support Black-owned businesses by announcing our commitment to the 15 Percent Pledge, a non-profit organization dedicated to galvanizing the private sector to use its financial power to create more equitable market share for Black businesses. We recognize our unique ability to help drive economic opportunity for local businesses and we look forward to highlighting more Black-owned businesses on our channels.
Uplifting Black Communities
In June, the Yelp Foundation and Yelp employees together rallied to donate more than $1.5 million to Black-led and Black-serving organizations to help build Black political power, uplift Black communities and help lay the foundation for lasting change. Yelp employees donated more than $335,000 to Black Futures Lab, Center for Policing Equity, Common Future, Equal Justice Initiative, Know Your Rights Camp, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, National Black Justice Coalition, The Bail Project, and The Movement for Black Lives. These donations were double-matched by the Yelp Foundation, which also donated an additional $500,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Equal Justice Initiative.
Fostering an Inclusive Culture
As part of our commitment to our employees, we looked inward and listened. I, along with Jed, our COO, and Miriam, our SVP of Engagement, Diversity and Belonging, conducted a series of listening sessions attended by many of our Black employees so we could learn about their experiences. We discovered that there are areas where we can and must do better, and have since taken action to ensure that we make the change we want to see in the world, here at Yelp. In the following weeks and months, we implemented a new diversity task force in which I, along with other executives, prioritize and address the systemic changes we need to make across the company as we look to create meaningful change.
We firmly believe all employees in our diverse workforce have the right to a safe and inclusive work environment, and take a zero-tolerance approach to racism. As one of the first things we did after meeting with employees, we put a system in place to report hate speech directed at our employees by current and prospective clients. We refuse to do business with those clients. We are also expanding the mechanisms we have in place for employees to report internal incidents of discrimination or harassment, including evaluating platforms that allow employees to submit concerns to a neutral third-party.
In addition to our existing mandatory harassment and diversity, inclusion and belonging training, we’ve also recently introduced mandatory company-wide training that focuses on systemic racism and institutional bias to help all employees build awareness, knowledge and skills that are needed to enable the change that Yelp is committed to bringing about in the workplace.
This summer, we also launched BlackBurst, an employee resource group led by and serving the Black employee population at Yelp. We look forward to working with them to strengthen the values of Yelp within our virtual walls, as well as to better address the concerns, needs and interests of the Black community on the Yelp platform. You can learn more about our progress towards fostering an inclusive culture here.
To better serve our diverse community of users, businesses, and employees, we are committed to increasing the diversity of our board. We’ve engaged Spencer Stuart to lead the search. I’ve started interviewing candidates, and hope to welcome a new member to the board within the next six months.
We strive for Yelp’s workforce and leadership to be representative of the communities our offices occupy and in the coming weeks, plan to announce our support of other underrepresented communities through new products and partnerships. While there’s a lot more work to do, I am energized by the progress our teams are making and the changes we’ve implemented this summer. We look forward to sharing an update on these initiatives later this year in our annual diversity report.
**From 6/18/2020 to 8/23/2020, we saw a 6,520% increase in search frequency for Black-owned businesses (and related terms) vs over the same days last year.