It’s an all too familiar sight. Black squares feeding the social maw, hashtags running rampant in an attempt to show solidarity, and company websites with a cookie-cutter support message. We’ve seen it all before. And that’s the problem.
With the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery at the forefront of the nation’s psyche, businesses can no longer take a back seat on the issue of systemic racism.
Recently, one Twitter user went so far as to parody corporate America’s response, see HERE. While we wholeheartedly agree with his sentiments, we added our twist to it, which goes something like this:
“We at Company X are committed to fighting injustice and prejudice by posting visuals that express our commitment to battling these systemic issues.
Company X offers this image.jpg which expresses our condemnation and vague solidarity with the Black community. We want you to share, like, and comment on it to show your support, while we quietly side-step the issue as not to hurt profits—or get a bad write up.
We won’t delve into specific details of what’s wrong, what needs to change, or in what ways we will do anything about it. But we hope image.jpg encourages you to view us in the best possible light without expecting too much from us or slashing our bottom line.”
Companies across America have released statements or Instagram posts or blacked-out their social media profile in response to the recent tragedy. While it’s a kind gesture, it’s just that—kind.
This type of click-to-upload tactic is a way for businesses to elide the real systematic issues at hand. To show support without actually giving support.
The Type of Support That Leads to Systematic Change.
Some of these gestures are welcome, while many fall flat for appearing hypocritical or simply opportunistic. And while some companies can afford to dip into the piggy bank and throw a seven-figure donation at the problem—and inject goodwill along the way—not every Mom & Pop can afford to pledge untold sums.
But that doesn’t mean you have to remain on the sideline to show genuine support.
Below, we’ve compiled three key ways your business can speak up and throw support behind Black Lives Matter That means abstaining from social-media chatter and acting as a caring friend rather than a business.
1. Show the value of your employees.
Employees are the most valuable asset you will ever have. And in traumatic times like these, they should be encouraged to voice their concerns, especially those from marginalized backgrounds.
Focusing on employee input allows your team to highlight what’s important to them, but also fosters engagement, drives efforts within your organization and creates a cohesive working environment.
This period also marks a time when companies need introspection. Boards and executive committees need to take a long hard look at their leadership team to ensure diversity is displayed in the highest-ranking positions.
2. Give social media some breathing space.
Silence can speak louder than words in these tense situations. This is why we encourage our clients to have a total social media blackout. Not only does this give you, your business and your staff time to process and understand the situation, but it allows for two important actions to occur.
First, you and your team have time to reflect on the tragedy. Employees can voice their concerns, discuss how this is will impact them, and most vital, everyone can take part in how you shape your response. No one’s voice should go unheard.
Second, stepping away for a week (or two) means you allow public discourse to take its course. This gives your customers and the community time to talk amongst themselves without your branding interrupting the flow.
Additionally, this evidences that you and your employees care and are respectful of the current situation.
3. Do this if the purse strings are bound tight
Not every business can afford a hefty donation, especially with the economy-crushing effects of COVD-19. However, there are a few tactics you can employ that won’t require you to dip into much-needed cash reserves.
Plan of action. With your team, make a plan of action on how your business is going to address the situation. This doesn’t mean an obscure statement with hazy one-liners. It means a step-by-step plan: ‘We understand the problem… and as we are part of the community, these are the steps we are going to take to ensure…’
Empower your frontline employees to address the situation. They can speak up and call out racist, bias, and mistreatment in action. Because saying nothing in such situations condones the discrimination.
My Final Thoughts…
Businesses like yours and mine are here to do more than turn a profit. We serve the community. These tragic events shine a light on systematic issues ingrained in society with pinpoint accuracy.
We must strive for a culture of inclusion, diversity, and openness for the good of society through planning and action. Companies should use their voice to outline the ways in which it is educating itself and its leaders on racism and how to become antiracist in its policies and actions. If not, things will never change and before we all know it, we’ll be awash in the next one.
If you would need help positioning your brand, contact NueWay Studios at www.nuewaystudios.com