Is corporate America trying to be woke or trendy?
When Deray was arrested this past week, he was wearing one of Twitter’s new ‘Stay Woke’ shirts that the company has branded under their diversity group called “Blackbirds.” This isn’t the first of the many recent messages from corporations addressing the rising tensions around police brutality and its consequences.
Pandora recently posted this photo to its Instagram/Twitter accounts (and promptly received backlash):
Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff, took a less straightforward approach, tweeting a picture of the Salesforce lobby:
Beautiful job by @zissimos and @pink94109 at @salesforce HQ lobby video screens today! pic.twitter.com/dhjHpP0oqe
— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) July 11, 2016
Even Facebook put up a huge Black Lives Matter banner at its headquarters:
But I wonder if these statements are enough to forge an alliance with communities disproportionately affected by police violence, or if they just take advantage of a few news cycles, trending topics and simmering tensions.
Diversity in Corporate America (especially the technology sector) has been a hot topic and source of contention for a while now. Many companies choose to steer the diversity conversation toward gender, focusing on hiring more women, equal pay for women, and women in leadership positions. The conversation is also frequently steered toward global diversity, meaning that hiring from other countries should equate to diversity. Addressing ethnicity, and frankly the lack of black people working in the tech sector in Corporate America, has been constantly avoided.
To be fair, some companies have a history of addressing the rights of groups being unfairly targeted. I’m curious about the conversations that have happened internally before these images and messages come out. The following tweet suggests that Twitter sold/will be selling their shirts:
Only 6️⃣ days left to purchase your #StayWoke shirt! https://t.co/YuIdmA6nPk pic.twitter.com/vPVqc8ljCl
— Blackbirds (@blackbirds) April 17, 2016
And giving net proceeds to a good cause:
We’re excited to announce that we’re donating our net proceeds from our #StayWoke shirts to @CCFlintOwosso‘s Flint water recovery effort.
— Blackbirds (@blackbirds) May 13, 2016
We are SO thankful to the @blackbirds for supporting us through the sales of their #staywoke shirts! They are making a difference in #Flint!
— CCFlintandOwosso (@CCFlintOwosso) May 13, 2016
Which is a great example of doing more than just saying you support us. Corporate America: Your hearts might ache, you might say you stand with us and that you’re woke, but are you truly pushing a culture of alliance in your companies? It’s important to be sure there’s something deeper here than just messaging. We’re watching. We’re listening. And we’re not here for the fake woke.
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