- Spotlight Series: SME Mexico Social Justice Task Force On Making a Difference
- Feb 08, 2022
In 2020, Sony Music Group (SMG) announced the creation of a $100 million Global Social Justice Fund (GSJF), dedicated to supporting social justice and anti-racist initiatives around the world. The GSJF’s mission is to meaningfully support well-established community organizations that directly impact vulnerable and historically excluded populations around the world. The fund’s portfolio, on track to connect with nearly 400 organizations, covers a variety of non-profit partners serving communities globally.
Towalame Austin, Executive Vice President of Philanthropy and Social Impact, alongside her team, has worked diligently since its inception nearly two years ago to drive the Fund forward and out into the world. Through both monetary and action-based programs, Austin and her team have developed authentic partnerships that have impacted communities worldwide.
We spoke to our SME Mexico Social Justice Fund Task Force to learn more about how they’re working with local communities and grassroots organizations to help tackle social injustice across the country.
Jorge Luis Martinez, Director of People Experience (Human Resources), is responsible for attracting the best talent and helping them grow to be the future leaders of SME Mexico, and he also oversees social justice initiatives in the country.
“For many years, I have been interested in personally participating in community support programs,” says Martinez, when reflecting on first getting involved. “In fact, before I was in the HR department, I used to organize donations for poor, indigenous children on January 6 of each year. That is the Wise Men Day, where traditionally, children receive toys and blankets for the winter. After many years of searching for my personal purpose, I found that it’s to help people. It makes me deeply happy to actively participate in causes with a sense of social help.”
After many years of searching for my personal purpose, I found that it’s to help people. It makes me deeply happy to actively participate in causes with a sense of social help.”
Jorge Luis Martinez, Director of People Experience (Human Resources)
What are the task force’s goals? Overall, they’re committed to action that ensures SMG supports society in Mexico in a sustainable way. “We seek how—through music—people can access a better world. For example, how music can help children in extreme poverty not to engage in activities that are harmful to society or help them grow as people and as good citizens,” said Martinez.
How does the task force collectively decide which organizations to partner with and donate to? It’s a careful and thoughtful process.
“In Mexico there is a lot of poverty and it is not difficult to find someone to help. There are so many organizations, the difficult thing is to choose which foundations to work with. A key focus for us is that the help reaches people in need directly, without intermediaries, and that the foundation is, of course, a legal foundation. We go directly to the locality where the donation is made to make sure that people in most need are receiving the help. In addition, this hands-on approach gives us huge satisfaction as we have the opportunity to spend time with people and learn from them, in the environment in which they live. Thanks to this, we’ve been fortunate to spend time to learn from a diverse range of those in need, including orphans, indigenous people, people with addictions or older adults, and others. It has been very gratifying for all of us involved in the Social Justice Fund,” said Martinez.
There is always more work to be done, but since the GSJF went live, SME Mexico has donated toys and blankets to indigenous children, supported the Fondo Guadalupe Musalem, provided pantry donations to elderly communities, volunteered to restore forests, and more.
When speaking of the partnership, Rocio Blancas, Coordinator for Fondo Guadalupe Musalem confirmed the funds from the Global Social Justice Fund allowed the organization to continue programs for young women from rural, indigenous or Afro-Mexican communities in Oaxaca. “In 2021, 271 scholars were able to continue their studies – including 50 young women to directly support their families and communities,” said Blancas. For scholars, this meant providing decent conditions for their stay with food supplies to allow for the further development of their studies.
Looking ahead, SME Mexico continues in its mission to drive social justice change. “We hope that the GSJF is valuable in empowering our employees to help our local community,” said Martinez. “We have high expectations that this will be an avalanche of good actions that will in turn lead to better ones, building a deep-rooted culture of responsibility and inclusion that benefits everyone.”
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