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Diageo champions equality with $20m Covid-19 fund

Johnnie Walker owner Diageo has pledged US$20 million to help black communities and businesses in the US that have been impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

CEO Ivan Menezes: “Diageo has no tolerance for racism”

The new Diageo Community Fund is part of the group’s continued efforts to support under-represented groups and communities, particularly those in the hospitality sector.

It includes a combination of targeted donations, as well as providing training for business owners and employees, relief aid and more.

“Diageo has no tolerance for racism, injustice and unequal treatment. We stand together with the black community in this defining moment”, said Ivan Menezes, Diageo’s chief executive.

“We are committed to taking every step necessary to champion equality everywhere and, while we have made progress, there is so much more to do. The Diageo Community Fund is just one of many steps we will take on this journey.”

The new fund follows Diageo’s long-standing partnerships with the National Urban League and the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] Legal Defense Fund. In addition, the group has donated more than US$1m to these organisations and to non-profit organisation 100 Black Men of America.

“The fact that racial injustices are daily occurrences is tragic. And it must change. And that change needs to start with each of us, in our families, communities and businesses,” said Deirdre Mahlanpresident of Diageo North America. “We must use the pain of this moment to redouble our resolve.”

Diageo’s African Heritage Employee Resource Group will also continue to focus on priorities and actions to help the black community.

Earlier this month, Diageo announced internally that it will double its existing matching programme for charitable donations made during June, contributing US$2 for every US$1 donated by employees.

The UK-headquartered firm will reveal individual investments from the fund in the coming weeks.

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