Corporate America felt the pressure to make bold statements and pledge generous donations to social justice organizations, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Black advocacy groups, but many are questioning the true social impact of those promises and pledges. Companies are struggling to connect and address systemic problems marginalized communities face daily. They are learning the hard way that money alone will not buy them a pass from addressing the real issue: structural racism.
Structural racism describes a system of policies, institutional practices, and cultural representations that work to perpetuate racial inequity. And unfortunately, most companies play an active role in creating and maintaining such inequalities. For example, companies discriminate against potential candidates based on how they speak or what schools from which they have graduated. Until companies strategically address structural racism in their corporate social responsibility initiatives, human resources practices, and supplier diversity programs, they will continue to miss the mark on having actual social justice impact for marginalized communities.
If companies are serious about impact, here are a few tips to get started:
Begin with re-examining your core values
Have a clear understanding of your core-values and how those values support and align with your role in removing structural racism. Your values should align with your workforce and pledge statements. You must be prepared to follow your statements calling for change by taking steps to be the change itself.
Have a clear goal in mind
Take time to understand, through research, what those structural barriers are that you can help remove for your employees and consumers. You can’t solve every issue, but you can impact those who are closest to you.
Don’t create a strategy in a vacuum
Without understanding structural racism, it is difficult to address. It’s imperative you create a diverse and inclusive table where all voices and experiences matter. Those lived experiences should inform your strategy.