ViacomCBS Releases First Environmental, Social and Governance Report

In the aftermath of the #MeToo movement, racial injustice protests and coronavirus pandemic, ViacomCBS, like other media giants, established an in-house corporate position aimed at elevating the company’s social, workplace and pandemic-responses. The report focuses on ViacomCBS’s on-screen content and social impact, workforce and culture, sustainable production and operations.

“ViacomCBS is focused on how we use the power of our platforms as content creators to meaningfully impact the issues that matter to our employees, audiences, partners, communities and investors,” CEO Bob Bakish said in a statement.

Bakish said  that as a “global content powerhouse,” ViacomCBS, which includes Paramount Pictures, BET, MTV and Nickelodeon, has a unique role shaping culture, social attitudes and societal outcomes.

“We’re committed to the opportunity and responsibility that comes with this reach and are proud to share how our company is taking action in our ESG report,” he said.

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Among the areas addressed in this report include:

  • Committed $100 million to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including support for non-staff employees on ViacomCBS productions and other entertainment industry workers through third-party organizations and relief funds.
  • Worked to keep employees and the public safe and at home during the pandemic by leveraging ViacomCBS brands and on-air talent to amplify official health guidance through the #AloneTogether campaign, which consisted of 174,000 television spots, social media posts and other content across company platforms.

 

On-screen Content and Social Impact:

  • Responded to nationwide protests over victims of racial violence and police killings by donating an additional $5 million to social justice and criminal justice reform organizations, participating in the industry-wide “Blackout Tuesday” day of reflection on June 2 and honoring the death of George Floyd by going dark for eight minutes and 46 seconds on ten networks. The monetary donations build on the company’s standing contributions each year to a range of community organizations.
  • Set several new goals to increase diversity behind the camera, including at least 40% representation of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in the writers’ rooms of CBS and Showtime Network shows during the 2021-22 programming season.

 

Workforce and Culture:

  • Expanded company-wide efforts to strengthen ViacomCBS’ diversity and inclusion, including through its commitment to publicly disclose the diversity data of its workforce.
  • Continued to hold its annual Global Inclusion Week, an expansive multi-day experience featuring speakers, immersive sessions and interactive workshops designed to raise awareness and foster conversation about diversity and inclusion, and inspire a sense of engagement and belonging across the company.

 

Sustainable Production and Operations:

  • Committed to reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with the requirements of the Paris Agreement, continuing a declining trend that saw GHG emissions at legacy Viacom drop by 20% from 2014-2018.
  • Increased the number of productions following the Green Production Guide to minimize the environmental impact of filming and derived 10% of the company’s global energy use from renewable sources.

 

“While we know we have more work to do, this ESG report reflects our dedication to greater transparency and disclosure as we continue to develop our ESG strategy and strengthen our impact in these areas going forward,”  said Crystal Barnes, SVP of corporate social responsibility and ESG. “This is just one of the many steps ahead on our ESG journey.”

Netflix Infusing 2% of Cash Reserves Into Black-Supporting Fiscal Institutions

Netflix on June 30 disclosed it is putting more money behind its activism. Going forward, Netflix is allocating 2% of its cash holdings — initially up to $100 million — into financial institutions and organizations that directly support black communities in the U.S.

The move was disclosed in a blog post by Aaron Mitchell, director, talent acquisition, and Shannon Alwyn, director, treasury at Netflix.

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“Stories like Ava DuVernay’s 13th and Explained’s ‘Racial Wealth Gap’ show how systemic racism in America has sustained a centuries-long financial gap between black and white families,” Mitchell and Alwyn wrote. “As part of our commitment to racial equity, we are turning understanding into action.”

Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings and his wife last week pledged $120 million in personal funding to United Negro College Fund and two private black colleges in Atlanta.

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Mitchell and Alwyn wrote that bringing more capital to underserved communities could make a meaningful difference for the people and businesses in them, helping more families buy their first home or save for college, and more small businesses get started or grow.

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They cited FDIC data that showed banks that are black-owned or led represent just 1% of America’s commercial banking assets. Mitchell and Alwyn contend this is one factor contributing to 19% of black families having either negative wealth or no assets at all — more than double the rate of white households — according to the U.S. Federal Reserve.

“Black banks have been fighting to better their communities for decades but they’re disadvantaged by their lack of access to capital,” they wrote. “The major banks, where big multinational companies including ours keep most of their money, are also focusing more on improving equity, but not at the grassroots level these black-led institutions can and do.”

As part of Netflix’s $100 million commitment, $25 million will be moved to a newly established fund called the “Black Economic Development Initiative.” It will be managed by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a non-profit with a track record of developing underinvested communities. They will invest the funds into black financial institutions serving low and moderate-income communities and black community development corporations in the U.S. Another $10 million will go to Hope Credit Union in the form of a “transformational deposit” to fuel economic opportunity in underserved communities in the Southeast.

Mitchell and Alwyn suggest that if every company in the S&P 500 allocated 1% of their cash holdings into efforts like the Black Economic Development Initiative, it would represent $20 billion to $30 billion of new capital to help build stronger communities, offering more black families pathways to prosperity and a more equitable future.

“This capital will fuel social mobility and opportunity in the low- and moderate-income communities these groups serve,” they wrote. “We plan to redirect even more of our cash to black-led and focused institutions as we grow, and we hope others will do the same.”