The Coca-Cola Co. will spend $1 billion to boost business opportunities for racial minorities and women over the next five years, the Associated Press reports.
Coke’s pledge will almost double the company’s spending on programs aimed at minorities and women.
Coke plans to increase its spending with female and minority-owned businesses from $100 million a year to $160 million, and to strengthen financial ties to those firms.
The share of Coke’s pension fund managed by minority- or women-owned businesses, for example, recently doubled to $115 million.
The company also plans to target small entrepreneurs by increasing economic partnerships and marketing investments in 50 additional urban communitites.
Coke will spend $50 million to support nonprofit organizations, including scholarships for minority youths, mentoring programs and support for community and outreach programs.
“I think it will be a model for corporate America in the new century,” said Joseph Lowery, president emeritus of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and one of the civil rights leaders who has urged Coke to settle the discrimination lawsuit.
Company executives said the new spending program was not a response to a racial-discrimination lawsuit by eight current and former employees, or a boycott aimed at forcing a settlement.