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Black lives still matter

Black lives still matter

Nearly three months ago the world was left reeling after the tragic death of George Floyd, an African-American man killed in police custody as officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes, despite him continuously crying out that he couldn’t breathe.

The horrific incident led to mass protests and demonstrations across the world with citizens demanding justice for George, while social media was ablaze with people calling out the racial injustices that black people face every day.

Pressure mounted rapidly for those with a platform to use their voice to raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement and push for equality. Big corporates, international politicians and even social media influencers stood up to show their support.

But now, three months on, who was merely paying lip service to the issues at hand and who has actually taken tangible steps to improve their individual behaviours and those of society around us?

Walking the walk

In an age when ESG, D&I and corporate responsibility are rapidly becoming core considerations for consumers and investors alike, it is no longer enough to simply say, we must do.

On June 2, as part of #blackouttuesday, tens of thousands of people posted black squares on social media in protest against racism and police brutality. However, some organisations that participated were accused of hypocrisy and called out for engaging in performative activism.

L’Oreal, for example, faced significant backlash for sharing a post on Instagram expressing its solidarity with the black community when model Monroe Bergdorf accused them of dropping her from a campaign after speaking out on racism and white supremacy in 2017.

Following fierce criticism, the brand released a new statement after having an “honest, transparent and vulnerable conversation” with Bergdorf and expressed regret at its actions. The organisation has subsequently committed to taking several steps to improve its internal D&I policies, as well as offering financial support to activist organisations in the UK.

On the other hand, in the immediate aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, beauty brand Glossier announced a donation of $500,000 to charity organisations fighting racial injustice, as well as seeking to make an impact within its own industry by distributing a further $500,000 worth of grants to black-owned beauty businesses.

Importantly, the brand has continued to follow through on these early initiatives and this week released a public apology on Instagram acknowledging its previous lack of support for employees who faced racism, anti-blackness and transphobic behaviour in the workplace. Alongside this, the brand shared a clear plan of action with near-term steps and continuous changes it would be making to improve its employee experience and hold itself publicly accountable to its commitments.

Be the change you want to see in the world

While effective communications and using your platform to support the movement are important, it is real authenticity and action that will drive the change we need.

There are innumerable ways we can support the fight for racial equality including educating ourselves, donating to charities on the frontline, signing petitions for justice – and that’s just the beginning. However, we must also look to improve our own practices and policies internally too.

Actively seeking to improve black representation at managerial level is key. Widening your talent pool to include people from less represented and underprivileged backgrounds is key. Offering professional mentorship and guidance to those from minority backgrounds is key.

As the next few months go by, George Floyd’s case will continue to progress and we hope to see justice for him and his family. However, in the longer term, we must remember that we all have a responsibility to continue the fight for racial equality.

The question is, will it continue to remain a priority for you and your business in the months to come or has it already slipped off the agenda?

For more information on what we can do to support visit the Black Lives Matter website here.

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