Skip to content

Do Grand Rapids Billionaires really want to create intergenerational wealth?: A Critical look at the Meijer donation to Hispanic Chambers of Commerce

March 24, 2022

On Monday, MLive posted a story with the following headline, Meijer donates $1M to Hispanic chambers of commerce. In the first sentence, this donation from Meijer is clarified, saying: “Meijer is donating $1 million to 17 Hispanic chambers of commerce across the Midwest.”

Before we begin discussing the content of this MLive article, it is worth noting that MLive essentially just reposted a version of the Meijer Media Release. Not only is this another example of lazy journalism, it demonstrates a complete lack of inquiry on the part of the MLive reporter. Here are a list of questions that the MLive reporter could have asked, in order to explore the implications of the Meijer donation to various Hispanic Chambers of Commerce.

First, it would be important for the public to have a more robust response to the following statement from the Meijer Corporation, when they said:

“Our Diversity & Inclusion journey focuses not just on our own team members, customers and business partners, but on our communities at large. We look forward to seeing how the Hispanic Chambers use our gift to create intergenerational wealth and opportunity for people in our communities.” 

The corporate use of the terms Diversity & Inclusion is intentionally vague, since it doesn’t really mean anything, although it does conjure certain sensibilities. Meijer claims that Diversity & Inclusion is for their team members, customers and business partners. Ok, so let’s inquire as to how true that is in meaningful terms. How many members of the Meijer Corporation are Latino/a, including executive staff, administrative staff, management and employees? Of the several dozen members of the Executive Team, maybe 2 are BIPOC. There is no way to know how many workers are BIPOC, nor of their customers. 

The statement from Meijer then says they want to see how the various Hispanic Chambers “create intergenerational wealth.” Here we assume that this means intergenerational wealth of the Hispanic/Latino/a community, since that is the demographic that these Chambers of Commerce serve. In concrete economic terms, if you divide $1 million by 17, that comes out to $58,824. Therefore, each of the 17 Hispanic Chambers of Commerce will have $58,824 to use to create intergenerational wealth. This is not really a large sum of money in the business world, but lets’ assume this money would be used for business startups. If you gave 6 Latino/a members of the community $10,000 each as a start up, that would use up all of the money, which in the big picture, isn’t much. Plus, you have to factor into this dynamic, that not everyone will be successful.

A second question that could be asked would be how much do the Latino/a employees of Meijer make? Most Meijer employees make just above minimum wage in Michigan, which makes it impossible for those individuals and families to create intergenerational wealth.

Third, since Meijer included business partners and the community at large in their list of people to have an opportunity to create intergenerational wealth, a good journalist would inquire if the farms pay workers, most of which are Latino/a, a livable wage? Michigan has one of the largest migrant worker populations in the US, but their wages are low, and are often based on piece-work. Besides wait staff, migrant farm workers are not eligible to receive a guaranteed minimum wage, so farmers and agribusinesses can pay them whatever they want. Again, a good journalist would ask, how does the low wages of migrant workers create intergenerational wealth? 

A fourth, and final question, could be to inquire as to the $1 million donation from Meijer, in relation to the wealth of the Meijer family. Based on the most recent data from Forbes list of Billionaires, Hank and Doug Meijer are worth $16.224 Billion. $1 million is .006% of $16.224 Billion. Comparatively, if someone who makes $50,000 donates .006% of the income, that comes out to $3. Therefore, a $1 Million donation from Meijer to create generational wealth is like you and I donating $3. 

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: