From an early age, Mr. Roberts dreamed of following in his father’s footsteps. At age 15, he joined his father (and 2014 Philadelphia Award recipient) Ralph Roberts at Comcast Corporation and never looked back. In 1990, after he spent summers selling cable subscriptions door-to-door and holding ladders for fellow cable installers, he was named President of the company. At the time, the company had $657 million in annual revenue. Today, thanks to Mr. Roberts’s leadership, Comcast has approximately $104 billion in annual revenue and 168,000 employees worldwide. As one of Philadelphia’s largest employers and leading corporate citizens, the company has been a cornerstone of the City’s growth and success. While these contributions warrant recognition, it was the change Mr. Roberts and Comcast effectuated during the COVID-19 pandemic that garnered the attention of the Philadelphia Award committee.
Mr. Roberts has long committed to keeping families connected to fast, reliable Internet, regardless of their income level. In 2011, Comcast launched Internet Essentials, the largest and most comprehensive Internet adoption program in the country, connecting over 10 million low-income Americans to the tools and resources necessary for success in the digital world.
When remote learning became ubiquitous during the COVID-19 pandemic, Comcast, under the leadership of Mr. Roberts, extended the program by providing 60 days of free service for new Internet Essentials customers, launched the Internet Essentials Partnership Program to connect large numbers of students and families to Internet Essentials service, expanded digital literacy training and awareness programs through nonprofit partners, and began the rollout of Lift Zones, a first-of-its kind connectivity program which equips community centers across the country with Wi-Fi. In addition, Mr. Roberts and his wife (and 2011 Philadelphia Award recipient) Aileen Roberts made a personal donation of $5 million to the Philadelphia School District to purchase 50,000 laptop computers to provide to Philadelphia students for free so that they could participate in virtual learning.
"Helping provide the normalcy and continuity of education during such an uncertain time was important to me personally and professionally," said Mr. Roberts. "It's imperative that businesses support access to quality public education not only because students of today are the workforce of tomorrow, but also because education is the rising tide that lifts all boats – it's the right thing to do for our community and society at large."
When a light was shined on systemic racism and social injustice in late spring 2020, Mr. Roberts immediately mobilized Comcast. He announced a ground-breaking $100 million commitment to advance diversity and inclusion efforts and strive toward social justice and equality. The three-year plan includes content and programming that reflects diverse and inclusive voices and stories; grants to organizations working to eradicate racial and social injustice and inequality; digital equity for low-income customers; and employee advancement through education, training, and inclusionary hiring practices. Comcast also launched the Comcast Rise program to invest in the success of small Black- and Brown-owned businesses by providing valuable and practical support.
The recipient of numerous business and industry honors, Mr. Roberts was recognized by Barron's as one of the "World's Best CEOs," lauded as "Businessperson of the Year" by Fortune, and named as one of America's top CEOs by Institutional Investor 13 times. He received the Humanitarian Award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Pennsylvania Society's Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement Award.