TIGRA: Study Exposes Racial Dimension of Western Union’s Corporate Practices

By Jonathan Adams May 23, 2008

Profiting from Black & Brown Dollars: The Racial Dimension of Western Union’s Corporate Practices Denver, CO – With the Western Union Shareholders’ meeting on May 23rd, 2008, the Transnational Institute for Grassroots Research and Action (TIGRA) will unveil new research that exposes how Western Union has failed to engage in genuine community reinvestment. The research looks at the Western Union Foundation’s grant recipients from 2001 through 2006 to better understand how its philanthropy contributes to community partnership. "Our research has concluded that while Western Union profits from predominantly low-income, immigrant communities, these communities are not the primary recipients of grants from the Western Union Foundation," said Youssef Sawan, researcher for TIGRA. "Between 2001 and 2006, the Western Union Foundation gave more than half of its grants to Colorado and Nebraska recipients, while these two states accounted for only 1.7% of the total remittances sent to Latin America in 2006." Last November, in partnership with Western Union shareholders, TIGRA submitted a resolution that asks Western Union to develop and implement a written policy for community reinvestment that would prioritize building social capital in immigrant communities. The resolution states that existing corporate practices "increase the risk our Company faces in the competitive consumer market" and requests that the company clarify its community reinvestment strategy to its consumers. Unfortunately, Western Union challenged the resolution with the SEC and shareholders will not have the opportunity to vote on the resolution this Friday. On Friday, May 23rd, TIGRA will be holding a conference call to announce the details of the research and answer questions for the press. The full report is available at http://www.transnationalaction.org/research/WUBlackBrown.pdf.