Ever since we all watched the horrifying police murder in May, it seems that we all have a better understanding of what it’s like to be a George Floyd in America.
Social media has surged with #BlackLivesMatter and sadly, #GeorgeFloyd. Many of us hoped the BLM movement would lie in the past and the social and moral lessons would have been learned. However, our timelines and feeds have been filled with touching words of wisdom, sorrow, and grief. We’ve witnessed footage of riots and demonstrations from all across the world and history has been made.
Although many brands usually refrain from taking a stand and making bold statements, unexpectedly, some big brands have begun to slowly, yet firmly add their corporate voices to the painful cries. Nike was the first corporation to make a statement and publish a short video on social media calling out racism and bias.
Then a few media companies like Netflix, Hulu, Twitter, and others finally took a stance, calling for an end to police brutality and have shown solidarity in an attempt to carry an impact through thoughtful messaging.
Although Corporate America is displaying a surprising sense of solidarity when many refrain from taking such a stance out of fear of being controversial - that’s still not enough.
The Silence Of The Brands
Even though corporations are sharing support, many companies have taken a vow of silence. Some pride themselves on fostering inclusive workplaces, displaying smiling faces of homogenous teams: Black, Hispanic, Caucasian, and Asian professionals all working in tandem. These same companies that speak about corporate responsibility now need to put their words into action and stop settling for a well-worded banner and catchy copy. They have to become poised to take their inclusive stances forward and demand adequate legislation, promote and finance social justice, and create change that America is desperately crying out for.
This is a crucial time, where we, consumers must demand the brands we trust to be more than bystanders. We must demand they take action and establish solidarity with their audiences. It’s time for corporations to support humanity and stop shying away from criticism and transform this global grief into activism. We expect brands in unprecedented times like these to rise to the occasion - make a statement, condemn racism, contribute to causes, demolish anti-Blackness, and speak out against acts of police brutality.
Now is the time for companies to raise their voices, make bold choices, and show an honest commitment to social justice. It’s disheartening we have to remind Corporate America that lives matter and racism is intolerable. These Corporations should be joining protestors as entities with the influence and power to prevent future pain and atrocity. It’s time to call out corporate executives and raise awareness to their foundation to inflict real change upon decision-makers.
Putting Corporate Responsibility Into Action
Corporations are no longer in a position to be on the “right side of history” but rather in the position to make history. US purchasing power today lies in the hands of Millennials and amounts to $600B annually. Millennials, a quarter of the population of the United States, are known to support brands that keep their eyes on social impact, sustainability, and a commitment to equal rights. The modern-day consumer will act against a lack of corporate social responsibility, hence the riots we’ve witnessed across the world.
Generation Z, the most ethnically diverse generation, comprising 27% of the US population is next to take a step forward. As it stands today, 45% of Gen Z expect brands to be transparent and socially responsible. A failure to share transparency and make authentic commitments to social justice (especially during these emotionally-loaded events) will drive this generation of consumers away. These are Corporate America’s future buyers, potential employees, and decision-makers. And, they’re watching.
Brands today have to understand words are not enough. However, engaging in public discourse surrounding social injustice and implementing action-driven plans will leave consumers leaning in their favor. From encouraging true workplace diversity, funding initiatives to end gender and racial pay disparities, and boycotting injustice. As consumers, we won’t settle for anything less because our future and lives literally depend on their actions.
Nike, the first to release a corporate message in response to George Floyd’s murder, admits that only 8 percent of its 353 vice presidents up to 2017 were black. Now, although Nike certainly has work to do in the executive suite, the brand fosters transparency and has applied the public pressure to improve their corporation.
Likewise, companies like Glossier have pledged $500K across organizations focused on combating racial injustice: Black Lives Matter, The NAACP Legal Defense, Educational Fund, The Equal Justice Initiative, The Marsha P. Johnson Institute, and We The Protesters. And, YouTube has also committed $1 Million towards eradicating social injustice.
This is what consumers should expect from major corporations, not just putting the words out into the ether, but truly putting their resources into the hands that need it most.
A Step Into The Future
We’re entering a new stage of the “American Dream,” one where all lives matter, where corporations stand against social injustice, and where we demand more from our politicians. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it. It’s time for Corporate America to rise up and speak out, and to recreate America in the image it was intended - one that is free.
Ilit Raz, CEO and Co-Founder @Joonko, an automated diversity recruiting solution that sources qualified, diverse applicants who are ready for the job. +15 years of product management experience in the fields of AI and NLP in various leadership roles and is a well-regarded mentor in her field. Ilit holds a Computer Science degree and Executive MBA.
For more information on how Joonko can help your company create impactful change, visit us online at www.joonko.co.