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Groupon to fund STEM training for Black students after EEOC probe

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Dive Brief:

  • E-commerce company Groupon will contribute $350,000 to a science, technology, engineering and mathematics education fund for Black students following a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigation, the two organizations announced in a joint press release Dec. 27.
  • Groupon had been the subject of a discrimination charge filed with EEOC in 2014 by an applicant who alleged that the company failed to hire him on the basis of his race, according to filings in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. EEOC asked the court to enforce subpoenas to provide the agency access to Groupon’s premises, records and technology. The court granted that request in 2016.
  • The fund will aim to improve primary and secondary STEM education for Black students and award scholarships to Black students pursuing advanced STEM degrees, Groupon and EEOC said. The company also expanded internal equal employment opportunity training and agreed to provide annual reports to EEOC on recruitment activities and hiring demographics, among other remedies.

Dive Insight:

2023 had already marked a year of heightened anti-discrimination enforcement from EEOC. The agency filed 143 employment discrimination suits during the fiscal year, representing a more than 50% increase compared to 2022, according to EEOC data. That figure included 25 systemic suits, the most in five years.

In the press release, Diane Smason, acting district director for EEOC’s Chicago district office, said Groupon had demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion through its contribution to STEM education, as well as its improvement of hiring and recruiting practices.

“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, it lays the foundation for building a workforce that prioritizes equity in all aspects of employment,” Smason said.

As part of the agreement with EEOC, Groupon also will meet regularly with the agency to discuss its EEO progress, per the release. EEOC said the company’s chief people officer and global head of DEI would supervise its expanded training efforts and EEO policy review.

“Building and nurturing a diverse and engaged workforce is a mission-critical priority for Groupon,” Emma Coleman, the company’s global head of communications and DEI, said in the release. “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.”

An analysis by the National Science Foundation found that Black and African American representation in the U.S. STEM workforce with at least a bachelor’s degree grew between 2010 and 2019, but that Black or African American workers were underrepresented in STEM. For example, NSF said that such workers made up 12% of the U.S. working population but represented 9% of STEM workers.

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