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Amazon commits $150M for new ‘Black Business Accelerator’ amid reports of racial discrimination

Amazon commits $150M for new ‘Black Business Accelerator’ amid reports of racial discrimination
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Amazon’s Seattle headquarters. (GeekWire Photo)

Amazon is launching a new program to help Black business owners succeed in its online marketplace. The announcement comes on the same day a Recode report revealed alleged racial discrimination against Black employees in the company’s human relations and hiring departments.

The tech giant said Tuesday it will commit $150 million to the new Black Business Accelerator, which will provide financial support, business education, marketing and brand promotion.

The money will be distributed throughout the next four years specifically to Black entrepreneurs selling on Amazon. Participants can access grants through Amazon credits and services, including imaging services and advertising credits. Participants can also receive coaching on marketing and brand promotion.

Amazon’s goal with BBA is to allow more Black entrepreneurs to enter the company’s third-party retail marketplace. Third party sellers represent about 60% of Amazon’s product sales.

“Black entrepreneurs have less access to capital, mentorship, and growth opportunities. They are also significantly underrepresented in retail,” Amazon wrote in a blog post.

Amazon is partnering with the Amazon Black Employee Network (BEN) and others including the Minority Business Development Agency and U.S. Black Chambers Inc. on the new program.

The Recode report recounted issues of bias and racial discrimination from more than 30 Amazon employees. It noted five different lawsuits filed against Amazon recently for racial discrimination. Amazon’s diversity, equity and inclusion division has undergone multiple changes recently, according to Recode.

In April, Amazon released its data on race and gender in the workforce and its goal for increasing diversity, including doubling the number of Black directors and vice presidents.

Amazon has shown progress in increasing the number of underrepresented employees in corporate positions, The number of Black and Latinx corporate employees in entry-level and middle management positions grew from 5.4% and 6.6% respectively in 2019 to 7.2% and 7.5% in 2020.

Leadership positions within the company are less diverse, with Black execs leaders making up 3.8% of senior leaders and 3.9% for Latino senior leaders in 2020, up from 1.9% and 2.9% in the prior year.

Amazon is launching a new program to help Black business owners succeed in its online marketplace. The announcement comes on the same day a Recode report revealed alleged racial discrimination against Black employees in the company’s human relations and hiring departments. The tech giant said Tuesday it will commit $150 million to the new Black Business Accelerator, which will provide financial support, business education, marketing and brand promotion. The money will be distributed throughout the next four years specifically to Black entrepreneurs selling on Amazon. Participants can access grants through Amazon credits and services, including imaging services and advertising credits.… Read MoreAmazon
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