When "Silence is Violence" Should Your Company Make a Statement?

Tyler S. Hatcher
4 Jun
BLM protest, protest signs, BLM, protest

The murder of George Floyd has once again turned attention towards the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Although brands often refrain from taking a definitive stand on social justice issues, some large companies have begun to add their voices to the conversation surrounding police brutality and Black Lives Matter. Nike was the first corporation to make a statement and published a short video on social media calling out the negative effects of systemic racism and bias. Ever since, companies from all industries have issued public statements supporting the movement. Some have created programs within their own companies to promote diversity, while others have pledged donations.

Breaking the Silence

The case for making a BLM statement is almost a no-brainer at this point. It has become clear to many that there is inherent bias and discrimination built into America’s major institutions, and it’s costing American lives. But businesses should bear a few things in mind before contributing their own voice to the conversation:

  • Talk is cheap. Generic statements and hashtags about diversity are all well and good, but acknowledge where your company stands. Consider your company culture, diversity, and work environment. What can your business contribute to the conversation beyond words?
  • Mind your tone. Whatever your company adds to the dialogue, be considerate of the intensity of feeling surrounding current racial issues. Create a statement that comes from a place of empathy and authenticity; now is the time to be genuine with your customers and followers.
  • Make a plan. Decide how your organization can contribute to ending discrimination and bias. You don’t have to be diversity experts or donate millions to make a difference. Create an actionable plan and follow through. Educating employees, diversifying your company, and amplifying Black voices are all ways your company can make a difference. 

Notably, businesses that have positioned themselves against BLM have been boycotted. Consumers prefer to think of it as ‘voting with their money.’ They want to know that when they buy a product or a service, the profits won’t go towards causes they don’t like or support. The announcements from corporations and consumer backlash against those who remain silent has left many businesses wondering if they should also speak out. Announcing your company’s support for the BLM movement is ethically the right call, but it’s only half the journey. 

Taking a stand against systemic racism isn’t enough. Today’s consumers want businesses to talk and walk the walk.

Putting Corporate Responsibility Into Action

workplace diversity, diversity and inclusion, workplace

Today’s consumers are socially conscious, highly aware, and extremely internet savvy. The importance of corporate responsibility has grown, with consumers frequently boycotting companies that they disagree with politically. They expect companies to not only talk the talk but walk the walk when it comes to ending discrimination and bias both within and outside of their organizations. If they see a BLM statement on a company page, they will expect to see a diverse company standing behind it.

Black people account for 12% of the total population, but hold only 3.2% of the senior leadership positions within large US companies. The same study stated that 65% of the Black professionals felt they had to work harder than their colleagues to get ahead. Most leadership teams remain overwhelmingly white and male, though some companies are launching initiatives to diversify their staff. Businesses owe it to their employees to take concrete steps to improve diversity and reduce bias within the workplace. 

Investing in Diversity

Workplace diversity has immediate and tangible benefits for businesses beyond fulfilling their social and ethical responsibilities. A truly diverse workforce features people from all walks of life: all races, backgrounds, religions, ages, sexuality and gender identities, and abilities. Putting a variety of world views into a single office gives your business a better and broader perspective of the current marketplace. Diversity of thought also brings fresh ideas to the table and gives companies a creative edge. 

Increased creativity leads to increased productivity, and a McKinsey study reveals that companies with heterogeneous boards generate more revenue than more homogeneous businesses. Diversifying your workplace from the top down creates a better, more productive environment for everyone. 

Sourcing a diverse workforce can be difficult for businesses on their own. Joonko was founded to address this very issue, and is the only platform that matches companies with qualified, diverse candidates. Our platform is an automated recruiting layer that increases the number of underrepresented candidates that apply for your jobs while also providing you with the best talent available. 

In a time where silence is violence, inaction can be just as bad. It’s on all of us to end the problem that is systemic racism. Unless we take steps to address it, things will never improve. Join the conversation surrounding diversity on LinkedIn, or contact us to upgrade your hiring process.

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