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Laying the groundwork for change

Our country has a long and fraught history of systemic oppression and anti-Black racism that we have shamefully not yet come close to overcoming. Police brutality, disproportionate incarceration, income disparity, the opportunity gap, and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black and other minority communities, are only a few of the symptoms of this crisis. Recent events, starting with the brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, have made racial injustice something that we must deal with immediately as a society. The senseless loss of Black life occurring over and over in our country, and particularly this latest scene of horrific racist abuse of power, have left me feeling disgust, outrage and deep sadness.

There can be no going back to ‘business as usual’ when the protests, tweets and news cycle die down. We all have to do our part to get educated, and we must use our voices, votes and whatever power and platform we have to reject racism in all its forms, until we put an end to this oppression that has plagued our country for centuries. 

We have a lot of work to do, and it’s on all of us to do that work. As an organization with diverse employees, users, and customers, Yelp is committed to supporting our Black colleagues, standing against racism and injustice in our communities, and laying the groundwork for change that is long overdue.

Supporting Black Organizations to Drive Meaningful Change

To start, the Yelp Foundation is donating $500,000 to the Equal Justice Initiative and NAACP Legal Defense Fund — two organizations whose work is uplifting and empowering Black communities across the country. Building on its employee matching program, the Yelp Foundation will raise the donation matching cap to $10,000 and double the match of employee donations made in the month of June to any of the following Black-led and Black-serving organizations:

Making it Easy to Find and Support Black-Owned Businesses

Over the coming weeks, we will launch a new free searchable attribute that will give businesses a way to identify themselves as Black-owned, and make it easy for users to find and support Black-owned businesses on Yelp. This attribute will be opt-in only as the decision to self-identify as Black-owned should rest solely with the business. 

We’ve been inspired by the outpouring of requests for this feature from users who want to support Black businesses. In fact, over the last week we saw a 25x increase in the frequency of searches for Black-owned businesses across categories on Yelp compared to the same time last year. We’ve also heard from businesses that they want a simple way to highlight that they’re Black-owned — in February, we sent out “Black-Owned” window decals for businesses to proudly display on their storefronts. As we work quickly to launch this new Black-owned business attribute within two weeks, our Community team is curating Collections of local Black-owned businesses across the country for our users to support in the meantime. 

Looking Inward and Supporting Our Employees 

The most recent unjust loss of Black life and the events that have unfolded throughout the country have been heartbreaking, and especially so for our Black employees. Before taking any action, we listened, and learned about the immense toll racial violence has taken on many of our colleagues. To help any employee who needs the time to heal, we’re offering additional paid mental health days in the month of June. We’re also organizing ongoing virtual events for our Black employees to support one another in a safe environment. 

For the wider employee population, we are creating the space to discuss the racial injustice in our society, and will be rolling out tools, training, and educational opportunities, to help ensure that we make the change we want to see in the world, here at Yelp. This painful moment has given us an opportunity to hold ourselves accountable, to take a hard look at how pervasive anti-Blackness is in America. True allyship with our Black colleagues cannot occur until we take this important work on, individually and collectively.

These steps are just the starting point as we continue to work toward longer term changes — the lasting impact of which we hope will inspire and reshape how we support Black communities moving forward. To stop the injustice, all of us need to commit to change.