Leaders in Chicago’s Business Community Announce Actions Underway to Advance Racial Equity

More than 25 businesses ensure their actions match their words.

CHICAGO (August 2, 2021) – In May as we commemorated a year since George Floyd’s murder and the calls for racial and economic justice that followed, more than 25 companies pledged their commitment to advance equity by expanding opportunities to build wealth in Black and Latinx communities. As part of the 5/25 Move to Action initiative, leaders in the business community mobilized to turn words into deeds through measurable commitments toward an equitable economy for the Chicago Region.

Led by The Chicago Community Trust’s We Rise Together: For an Equitable and Just Recovery and the Corporate Coalition of Chicago, this collective effort is focused on turning commitments to actions in three areas: inclusive employment, Black- and Latinx-owned business growth, and transformational neighborhood investment.

“We are excited to see the commitments business leaders have made to align their company practices to advance equitable opportunities,” said Gloria Castillo, director of We Rise Together. “By becoming their own disruptors, members of the business community are using levers at their disposal to surface inequities and lead with intention to deliver meaningful, systemic change.”

Commitments to the 5/25 Move to Action will prioritize business practices and policies that can create opportunities to advance equity for individuals and communities.

“When companies question ‘business as usual,’” says Brian Fabes, managing director of the Corporate Coalition, “they often discover practices that exclude places and populations from investment, employment, and success in the marketplace. Creating new, more purposefully inclusive approaches not only expands opportunity for employees, entrepreneurs, and communities, but also helps businesses succeed and our entire region grow.”

Inclusive Employment

COVID-19 and state-mandated restrictions on economic activity disproportionately impacted Black and Latinx residents. According to Illinois Policy, in 2020, Black employment declined by 15.2 percent and Latinx employment declined by 8.4 percent, compared to 7.3 percent for white residents in Illinois.

In the area of inclusive employment, 23 companies are working to more purposely increase access and opportunities for Black and Latinx individuals while also focusing on diverse hiring and retention of diverse talent. Additionally, JPMorgan Chase is committed to giving people with criminal backgrounds a second chance by supporting their reentry into the workforce, communities, and local economies.  As part of the firm’s broader effort to remove barriers to employment, JPMorgan Chase launched an intentional hiring model in Chicago in collaboration with local nonprofits that help provide job seekers with criminal or arrest records with the resources they need to qualify for employment opportunities. In 2020, JPMorgan Chase hired more than 2,100 people with criminal backgrounds – approximately 10 percent of the firm’s new hires in the U.S. Recently, the firm also announced a $150 million commitment to Chicago’s South and West sides to advance racial equity.

“Business has a responsibility to help solve challenges facing the customers and communities it serves, and that includes addressing long standing racial and economic inequities that affect far too many Chicagoans,” said Charlie Corrigan, Regional Executive for JPMorgan Chase Global Philanthropy. “We are committed to driving change on the South and West sides through access to affordable lending and housing, expanding minority-owned small business credit and capital, and helping more people build the skills they need to be successful.”

Thriving Black- and Latinx-owned Businesses

Many Black and Latinx businesses were unable to sustain the financial impact of COVID-19 shutdowns. According to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, 41 percent of Black-owned businesses closed between February and April 2021, compared to a 32 percent drop in Latinx-owned businesses and 17 percent in white-owned businesses.

As part of the 5/25 initiative, 17 companies have made commitments to help Black- and Latinx-owned businesses thrive. Hyatt has committed 1,000 hours of pro-bono support to Black- and other minority-owned businesses to help them navigate these unprecedented business circumstances. Additionally, Cabrera Capital Markets has committed to expand spending with Black and Latinx professional service firms.

“It is refreshing to have so many businesses come together to endorse such an important cause,” said Martin Cabrera, Jr., chief executive officer of Cabrera Capital Markets. “We know that supporting minority-owned businesses is the first step in building long-term value for individuals, businesses, and neighborhoods throughout the City of Chicago. From hiring professional service providers and contractors to taking innovative approaches to urban development, we are committed to doing our part to help build a Chicago where all of its residents can prosper.”

Transformational Neighborhood Investment

According to the Urban Institute, Chicago’s majority-white neighborhoods receive 4.6 times more private-market investment than majority-Black neighborhoods and 2.6 times more than majority-Latinx neighborhoods.

Six companies including the Mars Wrigley Foundation have made commitments to help neighborhoods not only recover but thrive through strategic investments driven by community needs. One example is, the Corporate Coalition’s EPIC Fund. This new impact fund aims to unlock debt and other capital sitting on the sidelines, increase the pace and volume of transformational neighborhood-supported real estate projects, and fill a long-standing gap in the community development financing marketplace.

“The EPIC Fund challenges investors of all kinds to think differently about how capital is deployed in disinvested neighborhoods,” says Fabes. “By investing collectively to fill an historic inequity in the availability of patient, flexible, risk-tolerant capital, investors are not only advancing catalytic, neighborhood-supported projects, but establishing the importance of this capital for all communities in Chicago and across the country.”

A full list of corporations and organizations participating in 5/25 Move to Action is included below. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Gloria Castillo at gcastillo@cct.org.

List of Corporate Commitments

Abbott – Inclusive Employment and Black- and Latinx-owned Business Growth

Accenture – Inclusive Employment and Black- and Latinx-owned Business Growth

Advocate Aurora Health – Black- and Latinx-owned Business Growth

Allstate – Inclusive Employment and Black- and Latinx-owned Business Growth

Ariel Investments – Inclusive Employment and Black – Latinx-owned Business Growth

Bank of America – Inclusive Employment and Black- and Latinx-owned Business Growth

Baxter – Inclusive Employment

BMO Financial Group Inclusive Employment, Black- and Latinx-owned Business Growth and Transformational Neighborhood Investment

Cabrera Capital Markets – Inclusive Employment and Black- and Latinx-owned Business Growth

Deloitte – Inclusive Employment

Fifth Third Bank – Inclusive Employment and Transformational Neighborhood Investment

Greeley and Hansen – Inclusive Employment and Black- and Latinx-owned Business Growth

Hyatt – Inclusive Employment and Black- and Latinx-owned Business Growth

ITW – Inclusive Employment and Black- and Latinx-owned Business Growth

JPMorgan Chase – Inclusive Employment and Transformational Neighborhood Investment

KPMG LLP – Inclusive Employment and Transformational Neighborhood Investment

Loop Capital Markets Inclusive Employment, Black- and Latinx-owned Business Growth and Transformational Neighborhood Investment

Mars Wrigley – Transformational Neighborhood Investment

Mesirow Financial – Inclusive Employment

Northwestern Medicine – Inclusive Employment

Obama Foundation – Inclusive Employment and Black- and Latinx-owned Business Growth

Rush University Medical Center – Inclusive Employment and Black- and Latinx-owned Business Growth

SDI Presence – Inclusive Employment and Black- and Latinx-owned Business Growth

The Vistria Group – Inclusive Employment

United Airlines – Inclusive Employment and Black- and Latinx-owned Business Growth

Winston & Strawn – Black- and Latinx-owned Business Growth


About The Chicago Community Trust
The Chicago Community Trust is a community foundation dedicated to strengthening the Chicago region by creating equity, opportunity and prosperity for all people who call it home. For more than 100 years, the Trust has united generous donors, committed nonprofits and caring residents to effect lasting change. Following the creation of a new strategic plan in 2019, the Trust stands committed to addressing Chicago’s legacy of systemic inequity and closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap while responding to our most vulnerable residents’ critical needs. Thanks to our generous donors, in fiscal year 2020 more than 6,000 organizations receive more than $613 million in funding from the Trust. To learn more, visit www.cct.org. 

About The Corporate Coalition of Chicago
The mission of the Corporate Coalition is to significantly reduce severe racial and economic inequities in the Chicago region. Coalition members believe that to reduce long-standing inequities, companies must stretch beyond their important philanthropic contributions. Business leaders must challenge themselves to address disparities and create opportunities through core business functions, including talent acquisition, employee support and advancement, site location, procurement, capital investments, and more.  With community input and involvement, coalition members are identifying new ways to deploy their firms’ capital, capabilities, and employee enthusiasm collectively, where joint action across companies has the promise for greater impact than firms’ working alone.