Every brand must stand up for what is right.
Corporations have the platform, the clout, and the resources to make a difference — and consumers now demand that you take action. Seventy percent of consumers want to know what the brands they support are doing to take a stand on social issues.
In May of 2020, George Floyd was killed by a police officer. His death sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and a reckoning of pervasive racism across America. Two years later, it remains clear that now is the time to not only take a stand, but to put the voice of your business behind it.
At mConnexions, we passionately believe every person and every business must stand against racial injustice. We all have the responsibility to fight discrimination. Racism is wrong and it must not be tolerated.
Floyd was an unarmed black man killed by a Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on his neck despite Floyd telling him he could not breathe. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired following the incident and has since been convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
Floyd’s death is sadly not the most recent example of such injustice. The deaths of Patrick Lyoya, Amir Locke, and Daunte Wright have also spurred widespread protests and outrage across the past two years. For some, these events have been repeated wake-up calls to an issue that has been widespread since our country began. For others, directly impacted by racism every day, these protests are about an injustice the Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc. works every day to eradicate.
The #BlackLivesMatter movement began following the 2013 acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer. Trayvon was an African American teen fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, while walking home from a convenience store. Zimmerman claimed he shot the unarmed 17-year-old in self-defense. He was acquitted.
The organization’s mission is “to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.”
Few companies spoke out in support of the movement when it began. However, since Floyd’s tragic death, major corporations have stood up in support of racial equality including Facebook, YouTube, Nike, Twitter, Netflix, and Disney – as they should.
While major brands with vast resources have taken a very solid stand against racism, what can small business owners do to help? More importantly, what must they do?
As a company leader, your employees are looking to you to do what is right and reinforce why they chose to work for you and with you. Your stance against racism and social injustice should already be ingrained in your company’s mission and value system. But it is your job to reinforce these principles and make sure your brand is true to those objectives.
What is happening in the world today is emotionally charged, extremely complex, and scary. Wanting to help and knowing what to do are two vastly different things. As a leader, a business owner, and a human being, your approach must be authentic and transparent.
You know you will not always agree with your employees, customers, or clients. But when it comes to bigotry there’s no debate. There is no place in the world for racism. Period.
This should be obvious in your company’s Core Values. In your communications. In how you treat your employees and your clients. Today it must even be clearer.
Every brand must stand up for what is right. So, what does that look like?
Talk to your team. Send a message to your employees that reinforces your belief system and the values you have built within your company. Be obvious in your messaging, clear with your expectations, and sympathetic to your employees as they navigate these challenging times.
Reach out to your clients. Let them know you do not stand for racial discrimination. Consistently advise them on what steps you are taking, and plan to take, to make sure your company is inclusive and supportive all of people in your community.
Pause. Look at your marketing campaigns. Consider how your messaging supports diversity and inclusivity. Be a part of the world around you while also supporting your company’s mission.
Evaluate. Be honest with yourself, your employees, and your clients, and realize despite your best efforts, there are places where you can improve. Mistakes have likely been made and look within to see how you can correct those errors and fight against injustice. When we are wrong, we must learn, adjust, and do better.
Staying silent is the same as being complacent. Be part of the solution for the sake of your clients, your employees, your brand, and your country. Learn more about the Black Lives Matter movement at blacklivesmatter.com/.
We are navigating this with you. We may not have all the answers but, like you, we are committed to having these difficult conversations and listening with an open heart. We’re in this together — and we have a lot of work to do.
Original content published on June 1, 2020. Edited with updates on June 13, 2022.