COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, the state’s leading voice for business, has presented six South Carolina Companies with its Excellence in Workplace Diversity & Inclusion Award. These exemplary businesses, Bank of America, Blue Cross Blue Shield of SC, Boeing, Dominion Energy, UPS and Wells Fargo, have each made investments in programs or initiatives that inspire progress toward diversity, inclusion and economic wellbeing for all. The honors were presented at the Chamber’s Annual Summit November 2.
“When we think about the events of the past year, the George Floyd murder, hate crimes against Asian Americans and other injustices against marginalized people, we believe it is important to recognize businesses that have made significant contributions toward eliminating systemic discrimination,” said Bob Morgan, president and CEO of the South Carolina Chamber. “The business community thanks these businesses who are making strong efforts to stand against such inequities and support equity for all.”
Bank of America has committed $1.25 million toward advancing racial equality and economic opportunity. It’s Pathways from Prison program at Claflin University enables incarcerated individuals to receive federal funding to enroll in postsecondary programs offered by local colleges and universities or through distance learning. Bank of America has also committed $500,000 to the Minority Business Accelerator, which supports high-potential minority-owned firms by providing targeted training, access to business coaches and access to large corporations. The program is open to socially or economically underrepresented businesses including those that are minority-owned, woman-owned or veteran-owned. Bank of America has also made significant investments in the International African American Museum and Midlands Technical College Foundation’s Quick Jobs Program.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of SC is committing funding to the state’s five, private four-year Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to help with immediate financial needs. Those schools are Allen University and Benedict College, both in Columbia; Claflin University in Orangeburg; Morris College in Sumter; and Voorhees College in Denmark. The funding will benefit more than 6,300 students and the faculty that serve them. Allen, Benedict, Claflin and Morris will use nearly $2 million to upgrade IT network security and bandwidth. All five schools will receive nearly $3 million to help students struggling financially return to college. Benedict will use $400,000 to provide nursing and counseling services to its students.
Boeing recently donated $1.5 million to Allen University’s Civil Debate Hall. Boeing’s investment in diversity also includes the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), the nation’s largest organization exclusively representing the black college community. Through scholarships, capacity-building and research initiatives, innovative programs and strategic partnerships, TMCF is a vital resource in the PK-12 and higher education space. As part of its investment in HBCUs, Boeing’s HBCU Immersion is a highly competitive program that brings the brightest freshmen and sophomores from partner HBCUs together for a three-day, all-inclusive, assimilated introduction to the company.
Dominion Energy supports HBCUs with $35 million in contributions to 11 institutions. The company also provides support for the annual African American History Calendar and Hispanic Heritage Month as well as sponsoring a student writing contest celebrating notable African Americans in South Carolina. Dominion also donated $20,000 to the Edisto Indian Free Medical Clinic and supports the Gullah Geechee Sea Island Coalition. The company also partners with SC State University on STEM internships and awarded $50,000 to its Small Business Center. In June, Dominion also committed $5 million to social justice and community rebuilding efforts.
UPS has taken concrete steps to advance equity, including the creation of the UPS Equity, Justice and Action Task Force, whose leadership has led to advancing efforts including unconscious bias training, encouraging voter engagement and facilitating voter access to the polls, leading advocacy efforts to ensure passage of hate crimes legislation in all 50 states, working to grow Black-owned businesses through strategic investment and partnerships and advancing pay equity. The company recently refocused its efforts to advance diversity and inclusion by launching the rallying cry, “You Belong at UPS.”
Wells Fargo recently launched the Banking Inclusion Initiative, a 10-year commitment to help unbanked individuals and communities – in particular, helping remove barriers to financial inclusion for Black and African American, Hispanic and Native American/Alaska Native families – which account for more than half of America’s 7 million unbanked households. The initiative will also assist those who are underbanked or underserved, individuals who may have a bank account yet continue to use high cost, non-bank services. Overall, the initiative focuses on access to affordable products and digital solutions, financial education and advice and the launch of the National Unbanked Advisory Task Force.
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