Ahead of Giving Tuesday, Coca-Cola held a virtual dinner series event on social justice after funding millions in grants this year

  • Coca-Cola held a "Together We Must" virtual dinner event series in October and November, in partnership with the National Center of Civil and Human Rights, Civic Dinners, and Equitable Dinners, around the topics of social justice.
  • Each dinner was helmed by big names, such as former Teen Vogue Editor-in-Chief Elaine Welteroth and NASCAR Driver Bubba Wallace, and Coca-Cola says nearly 5,000 people attended.
  • Coca-Cola Brand Director Erica Tuggle told Business Insider the company co-sponsored the dinner series to further its efforts in helping combat systemic racism.
  • The company says it will "continue to listen, learn, and promote dialogue to inspire change within our communities." Earlier this year, it funded $2.5 million in grants as a commitment to social justice, among other donations.
  • The virtual dinner series concluded ahead of Giving Tuesday, a global grassroots movement dedicated to charitable giving.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Today is Giving Tuesday, and Coca-Cola is wrapping up a year of donations and advocacy, most recently with its "Together We Must" platform, which seeks to address social justice issues in the United States. 

"Together We Must" was launched by Coca-Cola in June as a pledge to help combat systematic racism, amid the social unrest which swept through the US after the death of George Floyd. 

The latest plank of the platform was a six-part virtual dinner series which concluded in mid-November and saw the beverage giant team up with the National Center of Civil and Human Rights, Civic Dinners, and Equitable Dinners, to host dinners centered around themes including unconscious bias as well as diversity and inclusion.

Each dinner was helmed by a different notable figure with a presence in social justice, including Bernice King, daughter of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.; NASCAR Driver Bubba Wallace; former Teen Vogue Editor-in-Chief Elaine Welteroth; and paralympic track and field athlete Roderick Townsend.

Coca-Cola Brand Director Erica Tuggle said the dinner series was the company's "next step" after announcing $2.5 million in grants from the Coca-Cola Foundation for the Equal Justice Initiative, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights

Separately, the company also announced it would be donating to the 100 Black Men of America and the National CARES Mentoring Movement.

Tuggle said the company wanted to bring "people together to inspire positive change" with their dinner series, and give people "a place where they can listen, understand different perspectives, and work towards a more inclusive world." And that the conversation series arose because the company felt it "needed to do more" to further address the topics of social justice.  

Nearly 5,000 people registered to attend the dinner series events, Coca-Cola told Business Insider, about 2,000 more than the company's target audience. Furthermore, the company said 90% of attendees surveyed after the sessions said the events "motivated them to take action" on social justice issues.

The dinners were free to the public and 500 people were allowed to attend each one, before being broken into groups of 10 and spread throughout 50 breakout rooms to further discuss the topics at hand. 

Since the conclusion of the dinner series, Coca-Cola told Business Insider it will "continue to listen, learn, and promote dialogue to inspire change within our communities."

Coca-Cola is the latest big company to take a stand against racism, but many Americans polled remain skeptical of change

Coca-Cola is far from the only megacorporation to have taken a stand against systemic racism this year. 

Earlier in October, Business Insider reported that American Express had teamed up with Welteroth to launch a podcast series to highlight contemporary Black entrepreneurs, after announcing a $10 million grant program to help support Black-owned businesses over the next four years. 

The news came after reports of Black-owned businesses being hit disproportionately hard amid the pandemic, such as CBS News reporting in June that over 40% of Black-owned businesses have closed for good during the pandemic, compared to 17% of white-owned businesses.

"This summer has woken a lot of people up to systemic injustice, and how it shows up in the systems we are all participating in," Welteroth told Business Insider back in October. 

Despite the efforts from big-time corporations to take a stand against systemic racism, a Pew poll taken in October found that many Americans are skeptical if the increased attention on racial issues will result in policy changes to help address such problems. 

Forty-eight percent of those polled by Pew in October said they believed the protests from the summer would lead to policy changes, while 51% said they believed it won't. At the same time, 46% said the increased awareness wouldn't improve anything for the Black community, while just 34% believe Americans said the protests had significantly changed the way they feel about race issues in his country.

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