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CEO Jeff Jones shares H&R Block’s progress on taking action toward racial equity

4 min read

4 min read

February 18, 2021

Jeff Jones

This year as we celebrate Black History Month, we not only recognize the contributions of Black Americans to our society, but we also remember the protests of this past summer and how many of us joined together, committing to do our part to end systemic racism. At H&R Block we too stepped up. Like so many, for us enough was enough. Our Purpose of providing help and inspiring confidence in our clients and communities everywhere extends far beyond filing taxes. It means taking action in our communities so that everyone is treated equitably, and everyone has an opportunity to thrive.

Last summer we announced our Equity Action Plan, which outlined a set of commitments in four key areas: hiring, education and training, company policies, and community. I asked last summer that we be held accountable, and here is an update on how we’re advancing each one of these commitments. While we are making progress, we know that there is more work to do, and we’re committed to doing it. 

Hiring Commitment: We are expanding our hiring practices to be more inclusive and result in a more diverse candidate pool for all positions within our company.

  • Even during the pandemic, H&R Block associates who are HBCU alumni led our participation in HBCU events with Fayetteville State University and Lincoln University, with several more scheduled throughout 2021.
  • We initiated a talent diversity and inclusion strategy that includes partnerships with organizations such as the Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce, DisabilityIN, and Mid America LBGT Chamber of Commerce to continue to provide a more diverse candidate pool at Block.
  • We continue to focus on racial and ethnic diversity of our associates, with racial and ethnic diversity of more than one-third of our C-suite leadership and 40% of our summer interns. We’ve made improvements since announcing our plan and continue to make diversity a priority with our hiring managers.

Education and Training Commitments: We are creating new opportunities for our associates to educate themselves and each other about racism, bias, and the importance of diversity, inclusion and belonging. And, we are enhancing existing trainings and providing new mandatory experiences to educate our leaders about racial equity.

  • Dozens of Block associates kicked off our equity book club with, “How to be an Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Kendi followed by a discussion led by Dr. Nicole Price, CEO of Lively Paradox, a leadership development company focused on diversity, inclusion and bringing the whole self to work.

Policy Commitment: We are ensuring our policies and business practices are explicit that any form of racial inequality is not tolerated within our company, and we will increase our efforts to promote and recognize important aspects of Black culture.

  • In addition to our Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Council, Belonging@Block, we formed a subcommittee, Actions We Take, to address structural racism and create a space where diverse voices are heard.
  • We have completed the review of all our policies, making sure all are explicit about equality.
  • For the first time this year, we made Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a paid, corporate holiday that was recommended to use as a day of service. Several H&R Block associates used it as a day to volunteer in their communities.
  • engaged Dun & Bradstreet to review our current minority-owned business spend and help us increase it.

Community Commitment: We are committing to help create vibrant neighborhoods in underserved, urban areas and generating opportunities for Black business owners to thrive, especially in our hometown of Kansas City.

  • In the first year of our Make Every Block Better community engagement platform, we worked with the Urban Neighborhood Initiative to repair dozens of homes – from new gutters and furnaces, to retaining wall and foundational repairs – in a 10-neighborhood area on the east side of Kansas City, Mo.
  • This week we announced a new partnership with the Urban League of Greater Kansas City to improve financial management and confidence among Black small business owners. Our small business certified tax pros will provide free one-on-one coaching and counsel to Black small business owners to help them gain access to capital. The Urban League will also provide free credit-building services, as needed. While we are piloting this in Kansas City, we will expand quickly to work with Urban League affiliates and Black small business owners nationwide.

This is just the beginning. We continue to make progress toward our goal of supporting 500,000+ small business owners and donating 1 million volunteer hours over the next five years, while also ensuring 15% of the people we serve are business owners of color and 15% of the causes positively impact historically under-resourced communities. We remain focused on our purpose to provide help and inspire confidence in our clients and communities everywhere – of which working toward racial equity is an important part. I invite you to read more about our efforts in H&R Block’s first corporate social responsibility report.

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