Uber Eats features black-owned restaurants on U.S., Canadian delivery platform

FILE PHOTO: An Uber Eats bicyclist makes a delivery during the coronavirus outbreak, in the U.S. Capitol Hill neighborhood in Washington, U.S. April 1, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

(Reuters) - Uber Technologies Inc on Thursday launched a feature on its food delivery app Uber Eats that lets customers in the United States and Canada order from restaurants owned by black people and pay no delivery fees for those orders through 2020.

The feature comes in response to U.S.-wide protests over the death of a black man, George Floyd, while in police custody in Minneapolis, which has become the latest flashpoint for rage over police brutality against African Americans and prompted calls to support black communities and businesses in solidarity.

Customers who open the Uber Eats app in major U.S. and Canadian cities will see a banner reading: “Support Black-owned restaurants,” and are provided with a list of nearby restaurants.

Delivery fees for those orders are being waived until the end of the year, Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said in a Thursday email to U.S. customers.

The CEO also said that Uber in coming weeks would offer discounted ride-hailing trips to black-owned small businesses that have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Khosrowshahi also committed to making the company more diverse internally. In 2019, some 45% of Uber’s U.S. employees were white, 33% Asian, 9% black and 8% Hispanic, a company report showed.

Uber’s new food delivery feature is a response to requests from customers, the company said, adding that various Uber employees had compiled the restaurants based on publicly available sources and with input from local organizations and business associations.

Uber said it did not ask restaurants for information on race when including them on its platform. Restaurants were informed about the initiative ahead of time and can opt out of the program, as well as refer other black-owned restaurants not yet included.

Reporting by Tina Bellon in New York; Additional reporting by Ayanti Bera in Bangalore; Editing by Leslie Adler and Peter Cooney