Nearly 1,000 Asian American chief executives and business leaders across the nation have pledged to donate $10 million toward causes that support Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities amid a national outcry against anti-Asian violence.
Zoom CEO Eric Yuan, YouTube cofounder Steve Chen, OpenTable CEO Debby Soo and Care.com founder Sheila Marcelo are among the business leaders committed to the pledge to collectively donate $10 million over the course of a year. The group will partner with the Asian Pacific Fund to support community-based organizations, including Stop AAPI Hate, AAPI Women Lead, the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF), Asian Americans Advancing Justice and the Association for Asian American Studies.
"As a proud Asian American, it is disheartening to see the hatred and violence against our community," Zoom's Yuan told CNBC Make It in a statement. "Racism in any form is unacceptable, and I feel strongly it is important to lend my voice and stand up with my fellow colleagues, friends and family who are suffering during this time."
In addition to financial support toward justice causes, the business leaders stated their commitments to support Asian employees, such as by creating and funding AAPI employee resource groups, and to ensure better representation at their companies, such as by improving reporting on the diversity of Asian Americans, a term that encompasses as many as 19 origin groups, at all levels of their organization.
The coalition of business leaders took out a paid advertisement in The Wall Street Journal Wednesday to announce their commitment and implore allies in corporate America to do more to support their AAPI workforces.
"The Asian American business leaders in our community are committed to fighting for change," the open letter states. "The change that is needed requires a national awakening and a dialogue that involves leaders from every community if we are to undo the generations of systemic bias and racism. We are business leaders. We can help make change happen."
More than 2,800 Asian American business leaders and their allies have since signed the pledge.
Researchers say hate incidents targeting AAPIs have increased over the course of the pandemic, due in part to racist characterizations of the coronavirus. Stop AAPI Hate said it received 3,795 self reports of anti-Asian hate incidents between March 2020 and March 2021. Academics add that the latest string of anti-Asian racism is part of a long history of xenophobia and scapegoating of Asians in the U.S.
Anti-Asian racism and violence was put into sharp focus following the March 16 Atlanta-area shootings that killed eight people, including six Asian women. In the two weeks since, about $25.8 million has been pledged for AAPI justice groups or causes by nearly 30 philanthropic donors, according to a preliminary analysis that the philanthropy research group Candid shared with The Associated Press. By comparison, $595,000 had been committed this year before the attacks, and $54 million was donated to AAPI causes in all of 2020, the AP reports.
Advocacy groups say they often see a spike in donations following high-profile events, but the sustainability of financial support remains to be seen.
"Typically, emergency-response donors are not sustainable donors," said Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the NAPAWF's national chapter. "They're generous in the moment and then move on."
"Our challenge, not only in fundraising but across our programmatic work, is to keep interest in our cause high," Choimorrow told the AP. "This is the first time Asian American and Pacific Islander women are being heard, and we don't want to relinquish that megaphone."
The White House announced several initiatives Tuesday to address anti-Asian violence, including reinstating and expanding the White House Initiative on AAPIs, improving data-collection efforts to study national hate crimes statistics and funding training for state and local law enforcement agencies to promote accurate reporting of hate crimes.
Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services will provide $49.5 million to programs helping AAPI survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, and the National Science Foundation will spend $33 million to study bias and xenophobia.