In the last couple of weeks with the fallout from the brutal and senseless police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others, companies in retail, advertising, technology, media, entertainment, sports, finance, healthcare, and other industries have posted great messages on LinkedIn and other social media platforms about supporting Black Lives Matter and committing to diversity and inclusion. It’s easy to release a PR statement, but where is the action? Now is the time to see them walk their talk. Supporting a race of people is more than a hashtag or a temporary black square on your Facebook page.
We are already seeing how some of these Black Lives Matter statements ring hollow. Many companies have a history of racial discrimination and exploiting people of color and have failed to hire, promote and fairly compensate their Black employees. The comments in their posts tell you a lot—current and former employees sharing stories of being overlooked, overworked, underpaid, and abused. Hypocrites and exploiters are being exposed. Leaders are being fired or forced to resign.
Authenticity matters, even more so in 2020. Companies have to decide NOW which side of history they will be on. It could be the reason they thrive, or the reason they go out of business. The token responses don’t cut it anymore. This is the time for companies to be the leader in changing the status quo, recruiting and promoting Black professionals, and offering inclusive workplaces.
With nearly 50 million Black people in the United States, Black consumers spend more than $1 trillion a year, with one-tenth of the wealth of white Americans. African Americans continue to outpace spending, giving us a large share of the buying power in this country. But we still don’t have the titles or the voice to drive positive and inclusive change in terms of fair and healthy products, services and treatment.