June 8, 2020
Uber Eats Promotes Black-Owned Businesses
The ongoing topic of race and its place in public life is raging in the United States, and that discussion is spilling over into Canada as well. While most of the country is discussing how to talk about race and race relations and protests continue to rage in many American cities, one company is taking the conversation in another direction.
Uber Eats recently announced the release of a feature on its platform that allows users to specifically find and support black-owned businesses in the United States and Canada. According to media reports about the release, users will not have to pay delivery fees for orders made from participating black-owned restaurants.
The company released this feature in response to the protests that sprang up after the death of George Floyd, who died while in police custody in Minneapolis. Mr. Floyd’s death became a touchstone for the next chapter in an international movement for racial equality and reconciliation. And, while many businesses have shown their support on social media, market watchers say Uber Eats is setting a new bar in support of the movement.
When users open the app in the United States or Canada, a banner will ask if they wish to “Support Black-Owned Restaurants.” If they click in the affirmative, they will be offered a list of local restaurants with black owners. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi confirmed last week that delivery fees would indeed be waived for customers in the United States.
In addition to this feature on Uber Eats, Khosrowshahi reportedly announced that “in the coming weeks” Uber would begin to offer discounts on its ride-share services for black-owned small businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Further explaining the company’s position, Khosrowshahi said his team is committed to “making the company more diverse” as a whole. This public push appears to be an effort to proactively capture the collective mood of the country, especially those in one of Uber’s primary demographic targets, younger people in urban areas.
To make sure restaurants were on board ahead of time, Uber spokespersons said the company informed businesses before the announcement, asking if they wished to opt out, or if they wished to suggest other businesses that might be added to the list. In making this offer, Uber Eats avoided potentially uncomfortable situations later, while also showing proactive support for the companies they wished to include in the program.
It will be interesting to see how consumers respond to this initiative, especially given where the national narrative is on this issue at this time.