Walk the Talk: Which Companies Are Stepping Up to Support #Blacklivesmatter
In my world, walk the talk means doing what you say you're going to do. Not just talking but taking action to support your talking points. When it comes to the Black Community, all eyes are on everyone to ensure people are walking their talk in regards to supporting #blacklivesmatter. The CEO Action Committee was formed in 2017 with CEO from various industries who've made the commitment to integrating diversity and inclusion in their organizations. To see how companies are responding to #blacklivesmatter, click here. Now just because a company is a part of the CEO action committee doesn't mean that they won't be questioned. Challenges are constantly being issued when your talk doesn't match your actions and there are consequences.
The following is a list of companies who've been challenged to live up to their talk/walk:
Starbucks struggled with racial bias in their Philadelphia store in 2018 when two black men were arrested for waiting in their store. The call to the police was made by the manager of the store who determined that the men were a threat because they hadn't ordered anything. There was so much backlash (negative media, protests, financial impact) that Starbucks shortly after closed all stores and provided racial training. They were applauded for the quick action and heavy investment in educating their staff on eliminating racial bias. Fast forward to 2020 and Starbucks now finds itself again in a pickle after noise circulated that employees weren't allowed to wear Black Lives Matter apparel to work. Many questioned whether the training really worked. Starbucks has since reversed it's policy and is now allowing employees to wear Black Lives Matter apparel to work.
Home Depot has tried to distance itself from it's co-founder Bernie Marcus because he has contributed millions to Donald Trump's campaign and continues to do so. Why this is important is because Donald Trump is seen as a thorn for Black Americans. His moves seem racially insensitive and he is seen as a racist who doesn't suffer consequences for his actions. Home Depot will see a loss in business as there is now a call for people to shift their spending power to Lowe's who currently has a African-American CEO.
The NFL recently came out in support of Black Lives Matter. There has been a lot of skepticism because of the treatment of Colin Kaepernick who took a knee in 2016 in support of racial injustice. The move cost him his football career and now four years later NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL have issued an apology in support of Black Lives Matter. This move has been met with skepticism and called disingenuous because of the actions proceeding the apology. See Roger Goodell's apology below.
On the flip side, the following companies are being lauded for walking the talk when it comes to #blacklivesmatter.
Ben & Jerry's have gotten kudos for walking the talk. Their statement in support of #blacklivesmatter was met with positive reception. Additionally, they have further demonstrated their commitment by celebrating Juneteenth. Read more here.
Twitter has shown it's support for Black Lives Matter by declaring Juneteenth (the day slaves were emancipated) an annual paid holiday. Tech companies have a lot of challenges with diversity and inclusion so they are being watched closely for the actions they are taking. Sherrell Dorsey's company, TPInsights.com is monitoring how the tech world is responding to Black Lives Matter. They have created a spreadsheet that tracks the Tech World's response with cross tracking on the percentage of blacks in leadership and blacks in technical roles and more. Take a look at the report here.
Nike has also made Juneteenth a paid holiday. In addition, they've put advertising dollars towards creating a campaign For Once, Don't Do It (the opposite of Just Do It) in reference to ignoring racism. Take a look at the video here.
Redditt Co-Founder, Alex Ohanian, announced his resignation from his Corporate Board and has asked that his replacement be a black person. This is a promising signal (if he's listened to) because we know many organizations are challenged with diversifying their boards to include black people.
Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos has issued a statement in support of Black Lives Matter. This past week, he has been sharing racist tweets of customers who are leaving them due to this support. Amazon, however, is under scrutiny challenging that they are in fact walking their talk with regards to working conditions for employees.
There is now a movement (15% pledge) to ask major retailers to walk the talk in support of black people. Sephora has shared that it will dedicated 15% of it's shelf space to Black Owned Products. Of course Sephora has had it's share of scrutiny last year over profiling black women in it's stores. Sephora responded by providing a one hour diversity and inclusion training for it's employees. But for now, Sephora's response to make changes to their shelves has been seen as favorable.
Now that you've heard about how others are walking (or seen as not walking) the talk to help in the fight against racism, start small. Figure out what actions you plan to commit to and follow through taking. Make a plan, track your progress, and get an accountability partner to set yourself for success.
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Simone E. Morris is an Inclusion Strategist. Simone shares her message across various platforms, for example, Forbes, Medium, Thrive Global, Glassdoor, Leadercast, SmartRecruiters, Social-Hire.com, Diversity Best Practices, Profiles in Diversity Journal, and BambooHR. She is also co-host of the Inclusion School Podcast.