Racism is deeply ingrained in all facets of society — including our workplaces. Right now, the Black Lives Matter movement and the unjust murders of Black men and women are driving conversations on racial equity in the workplace, and many companies are wondering where they can start in order to affect systematic change within organizations. So, what can your organization do to go beyond brand messaging and truly put their commitment to the #BlackLivesMatter movement into action? Learning how to effectively practice corporate responsibility boils down to a few key efforts from your company.
1. Define and Establish Clear Core Values — And Follow Them
The foundation of your organization is your core values. You can’t grow and actively fight racism if you don’t define and establish clear core values for everyone in your company to follow. However, vague core values — like “we value diversity and equality” — are ineffective. Vague values can result in a lack of direction, with your organization taking on the saying, “all talk, no action.” It’s easy for companies to say that diversity is important to them, but the important thing is putting their statement on racial equity into action.
So, instead, focus on core values that describe what valuing diversity means for your organization specifically. Are you committed to hiring a diverse team? Do you plan company policies that keep the wellbeing of all your employees in mind? Are you passionate about fighting against police brutality by making donations to certain causes? Including specific descriptors such as these can help guide your organization in making decisions that advocate for a diverse and inclusive workforce — while helping identify areas in your organization that need improvement.
2. Strategic and Responsible Partnerships
With the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, many organizations were forced to pivot into new areas regarding racial equity that they were unfamiliar with. What’s more, in light of these events, organizations have needed to rely on BIPOC employees and colleagues to help explain the social nuances that are now being discussed.
For organizations that haven’t done so already, strategic and responsible partnerships can not only help with educating organizations on the racial disparity going on today, but can also help them work effectively towards systemic change. A credible and responsible partner who has many years of experience fighting for racial equity has the knowledge about the important issues and how to combat them, giving your organization a more effective way to help as well. In other words, working with a credible partner that advocates for racial equity and social justice gives a stronger guarantee that your efforts will be put into the right causes and that your organization will receive accurate information regarding the education of these issues.
3. Become Transparent and Authentic with Audience
When it comes to the fight for racial equity — or any other issue — your audience knows when you are not getting it right. Therefore, it's best to address issues from an authentic brand perspective. Admit your ignorance — but also explain how you plan to do better. Doing so will build trust in your audience. Trust is important to build during these times because it creates a united front that can work together to create even bigger changes than can be done alone.
Covering up mistakes will make you seem inauthentic to your audience, and they will be less likely to believe in your work towards systemic change in the future — no matter how genuine it is. This lack of trust isn’t just limited to your customers. Employees who feel an organization isn’t being transparent about these issues or their actions will rightly feel resentful and a divide will be created within the organization, making mistakes more difficult to correct and making change more difficult to achieve.
The path towards racial equity isn’t easy — there is a long road ahead of us — but it is necessary. By being transparent with audiences, working with the right partners and establishing clear core values that your organization follows through on, organizations can not only begin to affect racial equity beyond just conversation, but can affect systemic change in the world as well.