By Ora Rammala, D&I Consultant
In the year post-2020, how have we furthered anti-racism? How much responsibility and action has actually taken place? How much are companies and corporations working towards anti-racism? Performative allyship is not enough, yet the cognitive dissonance organisations have accumulated has made companies absolve themselves of all moral and human responsibility.
Grassroots movement leader of “#PulluporShutUp” and CEO of Uoma Beauty, Sharon Chuter, explains that “the trigger for [her] was seeing all these brands post for George Floyd and blacking out their Instagram,” explains Chuter, and she “thought, why are you absolving yourselves of the role you’ve played in creating this problem? How are you not seeing the connection between your depriving people of colour of economic opportunities and oppression?” Representation is the first step, and yet so many organisations, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, have opted for performative statements and not actionable strategies to propel equality and equity forward.
Action needs to be taken; we have the choice and power to impact change within our organisations. Corporations and companies are fuelled by humans for humans, yet they rarely represent the communities they provide for. Career progression and representation are intertwined; a company needs a flow of diverse in-house talent to ascend into senior positions. Otherwise, the stagnant reality of a homogeneous executive level will reign on. That flow can only happen if there is a culture of anti-racism and inclusion.
The reality behind the facade is that women, Black, Asian and other marginalised groups are not given the same opportunities to succeed. Last year the Resolution Foundation published a report that found that although progress has been made around education and employment, growth for people from ethnic minority groups in the UK is very little and there still exists startlingly large pay gaps and pay penalties. For instance, black male full-time graduates earn on average 17% less than white male full-time graduates, and black female full-time graduates face a “pay penalty” of 9% compared to their white peers. Black employees hold just 1.5 percent of top management roles in the UK private sector, research has found; a figure that has increased just 0.1 percentage points since 2014. The slow rise in career progression and lack of pay equality for disadvantaged groups is a clear illustration of where corporations and companies can and should be taking responsibility.
The culture in a company is vital to transform. Having a company culture that isn’t rooted in inclusion can become toxic. So often companies treat racism like a taboo, something to be ignored, yet it is still ever-present. Fostering a culture that is not racist is not enough. It is important to think of a third category outside of the “racist” and “not racist” binary. Racists are part of the problem, but by being ‘not racist’ all we are doing is refraining from contributing further to the problem. This isn’t the same as solving the problem. Instead, by ignoring the problem and not contributing to its solution, we are being complicit. It is therefore important to be anti-racist – being actively committed to calling out and challenging racial prejudice where you see it is vital.
The majority of the work lies in the consistency of cultivating a culture rooted in anti-racism. This journey, however, is not linear. It can often mean making mistakes. But the real change comes in choosing to be consistent in an organisation’s learning and growth. Being proactive requires planning and strategy along with the action that needs to be followed repeatedly. One training session is not enough if a company wants a culture that is sustainable in its inclusion. This needs to be ingrained into our daily life, just like doing an exercise class or daily reading. Anti-racism work needs to be another element of a company’s day-to-day. There are 3 key actions that corporations and companies can do to be more proactive:
- Invest in strategies towards bettering representation across all levels,
- Cultivate a culture of inclusion through consistent learning for the whole organisation and new employees, and
- Have frequent conversations on how your department or company can be more inclusive of your audience/ community.
Anti-racism needs to be incorporated in every role and function, from onboarding to progression as well as diverse marketing and innovative strategising with marginalised communities.
The power lies within our choices. We need to be consistent in our work towards fighting systemic racism.
If you want to have a conversation or find out more about what In Diverse Company can do to help you on your anti-racism journey, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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