Standing for racial equality as a corporate: a quick guide
As much as most of us would like to forget the sudden, unexpected unrest that 2020 brought us, we cannot deny that it ignited some of the most important conversations on the planet.
In 2020, COVID19 exposed how easily a virus could displace us from our comfort zones, throw the whole world into disarray, and cost us so many valuable lives. Millions lost their jobs and were displaced from their homes; the pandemic even brought to light deep-rooted racial injustice and gender gap issues.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable and marginalized communities around the world, particularly women and girls, people of color, and those already struggling to afford or access basic health care.” – The UN Foundation
Soon after the reality of COVID19 started to settle in, a series of events in the US was beginning to set off one of the biggest social movements of all time. The unfair deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd revealed the shocking depths of systemic racial injustice that colored America.
Shocked and angry, protestors thronged the streets soon after, setting off a series of riots that will go on to remain one of the biggest social movements in history. Offline and online, it sparked conversations around discrimination, gun violence, police brutality, and the abuse of power.
But it didn’t end there.
Discussions around racial equality permeated through borders and in no time, had people from across the world standing in unison, raising their voices against racial discrimination. Soon enough, everybody had an experience they could think of where they were a witness to or a victim of social injustice.
Racial injustice: by the numbers
So, how rampant is the issue of racism, really? Research done by the World Economic Forum shows us exactly how deep this chasm is, especially in the purview of the black community in the U.S. Listed below are a few distinctive areas where racial discrimination is felt.
- Health and life expectancy dynamics: Expensive private insurances and the unconscious bias towards people of color create a situation where black people are simply not receiving the quality of care that white people receive. Socio-economic factors such as lack of access to health care and the huge problem of income inequality played directly into putting black people at more risk of the COVID-19 virus.
- The wide education gap: It’s been 70 years since the US Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional. But even now, there are instances of racial educational divides – for instance, a report states that nearly 85% of black bachelor’s degree recipients carry student debt, while only 69% of white bachelor’s degree recipients carry a similar debt.
- Disproportionate imprisonment rates: The case of George Floyd highlighted the increased likelihood of black Americans being imprisoned for crimes. Studies show that black Americans remain far more likely to be in prison than white Americans. This applies for fatal police shootings as well.
- Restricted access to better pay: People of color typically have lower salaries than white workers with similar levels of education. A study conducted by PayScale in 2020 shows that black men and women have some of the lowest earnings compared to white men – with black women earning only $0.97 for every dollar that is earned by a white man with the same job and qualifications.
While the figures have gotten much better than they used to be, there is still a long way to go. The positive side is that communities, corporates, and governments have become keener on addressing the problem of racial discrimination.
Black History Month 2021
Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated February as Black History Month. Also known to some as African American History Month, it is a time dedicated to celebrating the achievements of African Americans, while also recognizing the central role they played in shaping U.S. history. Countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom have also devoted a month to celebrating Black history.
Author and historian Carter G. Woodson chose February as the Black History Month, as the birthdays of both former US President Abraham Lincoln and social reformer Frederick Douglass fell in February.
The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) has announced the theme for Black History Month (BHM) 2021 to be “Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.” This theme puts specific focus on celebrating the history of African American families – through various disciplines such as art, history, anthropology, sociology, and literature. It also calls to revisit the importance of black families in the aftermath of the pandemic.
BHM undoubtedly marks a time for all of us to honor the experiences of the past, celebrate the victories of the present, and inspire a more inclusive future. But while BHM lasts only a month, our task is to ensure that we imbibe and evangelize the vision of a racially just society in everything we do, every day.
“We must do more than merely condemn expressions and acts of racism. We must dig deeper. And we must act. Together, we can transform systems and institutions and build a more inclusive, equal, and sustainable world.” – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
What can corporates do to ensure racial equality in the workplace?
Corporates collectively represent more than a billion skilled, capable employees who can take meaningful actions towards ending social injustice.
Many corporate campaigns towards social justice in the past have gained incredible traction – boosting brand reputation and loyalty. When the #BlackLivesMatter movement took to the streets, some of the biggest brands came to the fore and assigned massive budgets for initiatives that address racial equality.
Bank of America, AirBnB, PepsiCo, Adidas, and over 100 others dedicated millions of dollars to support the cause. Most of these budgets are tied back to initiatives that support diversity and inclusion. While these are generous moves, a more solid strategy needs to be set in place to ensure that racial equality is not reduced to a one-in-a-year celebration.
How can you enable altruism as a company? What does it take to take a stand against racial equality? We say, plenty.
Let’s take a quick look at 5 actionable things that corporates can immediately implement to ensure that they imbibe the spirit of racial equality in the workplace.
Employ inclusive recruitment practices
If your workforce is lacking in diversity, take a critical look at your hiring practices. If you believe that you are indeed only hiring the best candidates, do a quick self-assessment to ensure that it’s true. You can start by doing the following:
- Check for unconscious bias in the interview panel and hiring practices.
- Strive to ensure that the interview panel reflects diversity.
- Evaluate the diversity of colleges/job sites you are hiring employees from.
Eradicate the wage gap problem
Ensure that you weed out any pay disparity in the wages paid to people of color, especially women of color. Review the pay structure across the organization to address disparities and mandate a living wage for everyone, as opposed to a minimum wage.
Researches show that companies who are more sensitive to the salaries and benefits they provide their employees are likely to reap more profits in the long run. According to a study, closing the racial pay gap would increase the GDP of the U.S. by at least 14%.
Make diversity a part of your company culture
Encourage conversations among your employees, stakeholders, and customers on racial equality. During important company milestones and celebrations, involve people of color as speakers.
Conduct workshops on the importance of racial equality and educate your workforce on how they can get over unconscious bias and be champions of equal rights. These activities go a long way in making employees feel valued. They start caring more for the team and for the vision that your organization collectively represents.
Include policies that take a firm stand against racism in the workplace. Ensure that all the personnel – from the CEO to the employees – are all abreast of the policies and abide by them.
Collaborate with non-profits organizations that work towards social justice
There are numerous non-profits dedicated to fighting against racial discrimination. As an organization, you can choose to support non-profits of your choice in the following ways:
- Donations: Select a non-profit that aligns with your company vision, before setting up a regular cadence of donations to support them. Donating once a year during an event might look good on paper, but the real impact will be felt only if you understand first-hand the kind of monetary support the non-profit needs.
- Virtual volunteering: The best way to contribute your time, skills, and efforts towards a cause, as a team, is virtual volunteering. Through numerous virtual sessions, your employees will get to work directly with a non-profit (individually or as a team) and affect significant change. We’ll talk more on this further down the blog.
This is perhaps the most important reminder of them all. If your efforts towards racial equality need to be fruitful, ensure that you have:
- A leader who has a powerful philanthropic vision and an honest commitment to it,
- A workforce that resonates with the vision and can work collectively towards achieving it, and
- A value system that enables everyone to integrate the philanthropic mission into their work.
Your sincerity will determine the success, reach, and impact of any social justice campaign you will ever undertake.
As the popular saying goes, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” If all businesses around the world were to take an honest pledge to promote racial equality in the workplace, we’d undoubtedly be left with a better, more powerful workforce.
Racism is not just the problem of one race; it reverberates and affects all of humanity. The day we start to take up the simplest of things we can to address the issue, is the day we start the first wind of change. And corporates – you wield the highest power to make this transformation happen.
Fight for a racially just world through corporate virtual volunteering
Soon after the advent of the pandemic, corporates started looking for ways in which they could deliver impact in real-time, albeit virtually. And virtual volunteering proved to be the ideal solution.
Digital has opened up new avenues of giving by enabling corporates to donate time, effort, and skills for uplifting those who need an extra hand – all through virtual volunteering. The best part about being digital is that it unlocks so many different opportunities from across the globe for volunteers to contribute.
Imagine the impact that could be created if every single person in the workforce was involved in doing good remotely. Amazing, wouldn’t it be?
At Goodera, we’ve conducted a variety of different virtual volunteering activities that address issues concerning racial injustice. To give you a sense of what these opportunities look like, here are a few virtual volunteering activity ideas:
- Mentoring leaders of color: Minority leaders often struggle to find the right kind of guidance and opportunities they need to shine. Your employees can join a diverse and passionate team of non-profit entrepreneurs who work towards making it easier for emerging leaders of color to thrive in the social impact field. The support of volunteers will help black founders find their voice and help develop up-and-coming social impact organizations.
- Recording motivational videos for youth of color: Students – especially minorities, those struggling financially, academically, or having a learning disability (ADHD or on the Autism Spectrum) need support to become college and career-ready. Your employees can support this need by recording informative videos on career exploration, college application processes, and best practices to be successful in schools/colleges.
- Creating illustrations to raise awareness on racial equality: Create a library of illustrations that spread the message of racial equality and justice for use by non-profits. Each contribution will add to a public resource library of artwork that non-profits can use in their social media, websites, newsletters, and print to help their cause and create awareness.
Want to get access to the full list of activities we provide? Please get in touch with us here.
The way forward
2020 has surfaced the willingness of the workforce to come out strongly in support of racial equality and even hold their employer accountable for their actions.
Consumers are getting increasingly conscious of matters concerning racial equality. Employees are also getting increasingly conscious of the impact their business has on the community. As we welcome this new wave of consciousness, a robust giving program must be put in place for corporates – with virtual volunteering at the heart of it.
Social justice movements are getting stronger by the year. And your business can be in the forefront, championing them. Join our global list of companies who do good around the year through impactful virtual volunteering programs specially curated with the help of our non-profit network.
Virtual volunteering offers a seamless way to mobilize your workforce and amplify the impact you create. The best part is that it’s scalable – you could be a start-up or a company that’s been in business for a long time and still drive ambitious impact through virtual volunteering.
If you want to experience a virtual volunteering session before deciding if it is a good fit for your organization, sign up for a free session!
Be a champion for racial equality. Start your journey to goodness with Goodera today.