AT&T and Verizon make moves to combat racial inequality

AT&T and Verizon are both making spending decisions that reflect corporate commitments to fighting racial inequality in the U.S. (Getty Images)

AT&T and Verizon are both making spending decisions that reflect corporate commitments to fighting racial inequality in the U.S.

AT&T says it has spent almost $3 billion with black-owned suppliers this year, making good on a pledge made in February before the death of George Floyd reignited the Black Lives Matter movement. The carrier committed to spending $3 billion with black-owned businesses during 2020, and says it is already almost 90% of the way there. The company says it is seeking out black-owned businesses in areas including technology development, construction and engineering, legal and professional services, and emerging technologies.

"These are not short-term commitments," said Susan Johnson, AT&T's EVP for global connections and supply chain. "Our commitment to these suppliers will continue beyond 2020. ... We will continue to work closely with all suppliers to foster economic growth and innovation within the communities we serve."

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AT&T named Overland Tandberg as an example of a black-owned supplier that has been a key partner this year. Overland Tandberg, formed by Silicon Valley Technology Partners, sells servers and data storage solutions, but when COVID-19 hit, the company started providing personal protective equipment for AT&T's international workforce. 

RELATED: AT&T expands its Diversity Supplier program

AT&T's announcement comes just a few days after Verizon said it will pull advertising from Facebook and Instagram in response to an open letter from the Anti-Defamation League. The letter stated that a Verizon ad appeared on social media next to a video posted by QAnon, a right-wing movement that promotes conspiracy theories. Verizon said it wants Facebook to find "an acceptable solution" to such situations. 

Earlier this month, Verizon said it will donate $10 million through the Verizon Foundation to various organizations that are working against racism. The company said the $10 million will be shared equally between the National Urban League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Action Network, the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, the Rainbow Push Coalition, the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

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