Wow. We’ve never seen so many companies reacting against racism and police brutality since the death of George Floyd. From posting a black square with hashtags and emojis in different skin tones, to releasing anti-racism statements, donating money, and/or pledging to make changes. We’re happy something is happening, and we hope this can become the end of institutional racism. But in order to reach this goal, companies need to transform their statements into real inclusive systems.
Take this tweet for example. It has been liked for almost 50.000 times and shared more than 23.000 times since it was posted on the 31st of May (anyone would like this kind of reach and engagement, right?). Customers are more critical than ever and they’re not afraid to call companies out for making all too vague statements. Are you ready to take your commitment to the next level? We’ve got you covered.
Do: Acknowledge the racism in your own company…
First things first, you should take the time to reflect on how you, as a company, can be more inclusive. From your recruitment process to your supply chain, to your retaining strategy, and everything in between. Identify the changes you can make on the inside, before sharing statements with the outside world. Take Nike for example. The famous sports brand took an active stance against racism, by taking a spin on their slogan: “For once, don’t do it”. However, Nike received some criticism because the brand has been called out before for their lack of racial diversity on their executive leadership team. So, next to their stance against racism, Nike keeps committing to diversify its top management.
… but don’t limit inclusiveness to one kind of discrimination
The goal is to ensure you remove all the barriers that keep your (future) employees from equally participating. For example, when hiring new employees, you could put the emphasis on degrees and relevant experience of candidates, instead of on their names and ethnicity. But while this article focuses on anti-racism, that’s not the only area you can work on. There are also other discriminations to tackle, such as sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and ageism. In other words: intersectionality is the key to inclusivity within our societies and companies.
Do: Accept and learn from your mistakes
Does being called out sound like your biggest PR-nightmare? It shouldn’t be. Making mistakes is part of the process. So when somebody points out you’re not walking the walk, listen and learn. Case in point: L’Oreal. Just like Nike, they released a smart anti-racism statement based upon their slogan: “Speaking up is worth it”. However, back in 2017, the brand fired Munroe Bergdorf, a Black transgender model, exactly because she chose to speak up against racism. Needless to say, Bergdorf called L’Oreal out. The company’s response? Rehiring the model as an advisor on their newly founded Diversity & Inclusion Board.
… And don’t forget it’s also about your audience
Did you just learn about the historical meaning of the hashtag BlackLivesMatter? Good! Being transparent about your goals and the process to do better as a company is great (and can inspire other companies to also get with the program). But it’s not only about sharing your own journey. Using your platforms in an inclusive way to amplify diverse voices and role models of minorities, for example through hiring them, helps you practice what you preach. And you know what they say: actions speak louder than words.
Do: Put your money where your mouth is
This seamlessly gets us to the next do: putting your money where your mouth is. Whether it’s by investing in local communities, donating to social justice organizations or funds, or hiring diversity advisors for your company. An overview of Belgium initiatives you can donate to can be found here.
… And don’t postpone
Let’s recap: take a stance against injustice, but don’t forget to evaluate how you can do better. Be transparent, and prepare to respond when people point out mistakes. Practice what you preach, and in that order. Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Yeah, the key is that anti-racism is a lifelong commitment, and not some target you’ll be able to tick-off by the end of next year. But that’s no excuse to postpone: starting right now, you can make changes for the better.
Still kinda panicking? We’re only a phone call away!