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Groupon to Fund STEM Program, Award Scholarships for Black Students


black man sits at computer

Groupon has reached a settlement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after the agency reviewed its recruitment and hiring processes.

The Chicago-based e-commerce marketplace has agreed to contribute $350,000 to establish a fund to support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for Black students and award scholarships to Black students pursuing advanced degrees in STEM fields, the EEOC recently announced.

“Building and nurturing a diverse and engaged workforce is a mission-critical priority for Groupon,” said Emma Coleman, Groupon’s global head of communications and diversity, equity and inclusion, in a statement. “We also want to contribute to a future where there is equality of opportunity for all, and, in this spirit, we are excited to create the STEM educational fund.”

Per the agreement, Groupon will also:

  • Expand its annual equal employment opportunity (EEO) training for management and employees.
  • Regularly review its existing EEO policies.
  • Continue to partner with the EEOC to voluntarily provide annual reports on recruitment activities and hiring demographics.
  • Meet regularly with the EEOC to discuss Groupon’s progress.

Diane Smason, acting district director of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office, said in a statement that the agreement demonstrates Groupon’s commitment to inclusion, equity and diversity.

“Other employers, particularly those experiencing rapid growth and increasingly high staffing demands, should bear in mind that promoting diversity and inclusion in recruiting and hiring efforts not only helps attract top talent, [but also] lays the foundation for building a workforce that prioritizes equity in all aspects of employment,” Smason said.

Tech Lacks Black Workers

Groupon’s commitment to supporting Black students entering STEM fields comes as Black workers are struggling to land and maintain tech jobs.

Black individuals make up 12 percent of the U.S. workforce but only 8 percent of tech positions, according to a report by McKinsey & Company. Further, just 3 percent of tech executives in C-suites are Black.

A 2022 report by digital platform Valence and consulting company Russell Reynolds Associates assessed the barriers to Black representation in tech, revealing:

  • Tenures in tech organizations are much shorter for Black workers than for workers from any other race.
  • Black employees move between companies more often than their non-Black counterparts.
  • Nearly half (47 percent) of Black tech workers (47 percent)  strongly agree that they must frequently switch companies to seek growth in their career, compared with 28 percent of non-Black employees.

Klara Owens, global internal communications and engagement lead at employee engagement platform Reward Gateway in Boston, explained that diversity in the technology industry is critical to its success.

“Diverse teams contribute to a richer tapestry of ideas, perspectives and experiences,” she said. “Fostering diversity is not just a moral imperative, but it also positively impacts business outcomes and the industry by pushing the boundaries, enhancing productivity, and improving overall performance and engagement amongst teams.”

How Tech Companies Can Recruit More Black Workers

Rita Parker, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion at information management firm Access in Boston, outlined four ways that HR can improve diversity in the tech industry:

  • Recruit from higher education institutions that have greater representation of racial minorities.
  • Target associations such as the National Association of Black Engineers, Society of Women Engineers or Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.
  • Create an internal pipeline through internship or apprenticeship programs targeting talent from a variety of backgrounds.
  • Offer remote-work opportunities as “a recruiting strategy that targets the talent in their communities. Allowing them to stay in their communities could benefit both entities,” Parker said.

Parker added that companies should also consider implementing a talent strategy that supports the recruitment of people of color and mentorship opportunities to aid in the retention of diverse employees.

Owens noted that companies must also create an environment where employees feel comfortable reporting instances of discrimination or bias. To bridge gaps and promote understanding, tech companies should listen to the experiences of people of color to acknowledge and learn from their stories.

“By promoting education, awareness and intentional actions,” she explained, “companies can make strides in not just recruiting but, most importantly, retaining a more diverse workforce.”

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