Contributed by -

Tim Murphy

Chief Administrative Officer Mastercard

In 2024, it is more critical than ever that companies stay actively and vocally committed to fostering equitable and inclusive environments. Challenges to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs, legal and otherwise, have mounted in recent years, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to reject the use of race in college admissions has been a catalyst for concerning changes in the rhetoric around the value of these initiatives. 

The business case for this work speaks for itself: teams with employees from diverse backgrounds, viewpoints, and experiences drive better decision-making and deliver stronger bottom lines. The evidence is clear and abundant, from increased productivity and greater outcomes to higher rates of employee satisfaction. Still, there are those who question the fairness and legality of initiatives designed to create a level playing field for all people. 

While some companies are prepared to defend their DEI strategies in the courts, there is an equally great need to inform and shape public opinion on the necessity of diversity for businesses. The National Urban League is an essential partner in this effort as a voice of truth and rationality in places of power. Together, we must demonstrate that DEI is not a “nice-to-have” option but an imperative for achieving greater financial performance and delivering long-term, sustainable growth for shareholders. We need to underscore that litigation will not cause companies to abandon their efforts but rather to take the measures necessary to continue advancing a fair and diverse workforce. 

The heart of this work is about putting our systems to work for everyone, and the system of free enterprise is a key driver of inclusion in our country. So now is the time for business leaders to lean in and continue fueling the engine of growth and the engine of opportunity: inclusion. It’s how we create an economy where anyone and everyone can thrive. A more fair, inclusive economy is a more resilient economy. 

Because the benefits of DEI go far beyond office walls, in my position as Chief Administrative Officer at Mastercard, I am privileged to see how our internal and external efforts add value to the communities in which we operate and to our bottom line. As a global community, we are working to open doors, enable equal opportunities, and empower people. This work not only has a meaningful impact on our business but is the right thing to do. 

With more seats at our table and room to continue growing, Mastercard is a more capable, relevant, and innovative partner for our customers. Part of our ongoing journey towards fostering meaningful connections, inspiring acceptance, and cultivating a culture where we all belong means taking deliberate steps to attract and retain an employee base that reflects and celebrates the global network we’re known for. This ranges from early career recruitment and development, like our partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, to continuous support for career growth, often informed by our work with DEI-focused organizations that advocate for different communities. As a result, our teams are bringing new solutions to market – for example, our Touch Card and True Name solutions – that help more people connect to the digital economy and, ultimately, expand our business.  

 Externally, one example of Mastercard’s commitment is our In Solidarity initiative, which since 2020 has invested over $420 million in Black communities across the U.S. to help close the racial wealth and opportunity gap. Part of this commitment is supporting Black fintech founders through our Start Path startup accelerator program. Through Start Path, we’ve been able to work with companies like Mobility Capital Finance, a mobile-first banking program that works with low-wealth and underserved communities, meeting people where they are to get them connected to financial services. Working together means that we can reach more people more effectively.  

We also invest in organizations like Access Point in St. Louis, which helps young people and underrepresented groups in the region find and keep jobs in tech. Since starting our partnership in 2022, we have onboarded over a dozen apprentices at Mastercard through Access Point, including individuals like René Nelson, who jumped on the program opportunity as a 17-year-old high schooler and two years later is now working as a full-time software engineer in our Technology business.  

The success stories from these programs are inspiring and serve as a reminder of the different ways that they drive positive change. For individuals, groups like Access Point can be the fulcrum that helps a person find stability, achieve personal growth, and set down a path of independence. At a broader level, they help build out local workforces with valuable skills while boosting community involvement. On either scale, the impact is monumental, changing lives and changing systems for the better. And, by the way, helping to create new generations of productive, empowered consumers who can enjoy the benefits of Mastercard’s amazing payment products and services. 

Our commitment to DEI is essential to who we are as a company. When we look at our peers and partners – standout organizations on the Fair360 Top 50 companies and other benchmarks – it’s clear that integrating inclusion is a standard for good business. 

 In this current moment – four years after the murder of George Floyd ignited significant mobilization in the business community – it is time to recommit to promises and reenergize our fight. As we also look back on 60 years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act and nearly 50 years since the first publishing of this annual report, we know that simply accepting the current state of play is not enough to guarantee equality. It takes dedicated effort from the public and private sectors to create and safeguard opportunities for everyone. 

 For the National Urban League and all its partners across the country, moments of reflection always spark moments of action. Let’s meet challenges with conviction in our mission and the indisputable value of our impact. Let’s keep taking the movement forward together.

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Key partners supporting the National Urban League's mission for State of Black America Report

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