The past few weeks have seen #BlackLivesMatter protests sweep the world. It has kick-started a significant social awakening around racial injustice, and many brands, charities and organisations have felt the immense pressure to respond.
As expected, many have published statements of support (on their websites and social media), but swiftly received backlash from the public demanding more tangible action and fewer words!
Versiti decided to track some of these statements so that you can more easily view and comment on them, and follow progress over time as the organisations behind them seek to make real, positive changes to the world around them.
Depending on your own position, these might provide inspiration to craft your own response and action plan. We hope that it’s a place you will bookmark and revisit time and again, as media attention dampens and the public is left having to take the lead in demanding accountability and change.
To kick things off, here are seven ways that brands and organisations are committing to support #BlackLivesMatter, each with clear plans for action.
1. Pledging financial support
Several brands have put their money where their mouth is by committing to donate to racial justice and equality causes. This is one of the most concrete ways of showing support to the movement.
- YouTube was one of the first brands to make a definitive commitment, stating they would donate $1 million to social justice initiatives.
We stand in solidarity against racism and violence. When members of our community hurt, we all hurt. We’re pledging $1M in support of efforts to address social injustice.— YouTube (@YouTube) May 30, 2020
- Glossier also committed $1 million, half of which will go to organisations combating racial justice and the other half will be used as grants to Black-owned beauty businesses.
- Nike announced it was donating $40 million to promote social justice, racial equality and education in the U.S.
2. Offering pro bono servicesOf course, not all brands will have millions of pounds lying around to donate. So some have decided to offer their services pro bono to causes that will tangibly improve the lives of Black people.
- MoJo Supermarket, a creative agency, is offering to provide a substitute (free of charge) for Black creatives or strategists who are feeling overwhelmed and unable to work in the current climate.
- Similarly, Design for Black Lives is offering free design work for #BlackLivesMatter organisers and for all Black people, indigenous people and people of colour.
— It's Nice That (@itsnicethat) June 16, 2020.
3. Changing internal hiring practicesMany brands love the halo of diverse marketing without valuing the need to be internally diverse. Some brands are awakening to the ethnic employment and pay gap and are making internal changes that reflect their stated values around diversity, inclusion and equality. We think a lot more work needs to be done in this space, including by focussing on the wider supply chain - but it’s a step in the right direction.
PEOPLE (2/2)— adidas (@adidas) June 10, 2020
30% of all open positions (internal and external) will be filled with Black and Latinx talent.
50% of all open positions will be filled with diverse talent (inclusive of all diverse categories, gender, sexual orientation, disability, veteran).
- ITV’s This Morning show is currently looking to hire a Black presenter amidst the increased scrutiny on racial equality. They do not currently have a black presenter on any of their programmes and need to prove a real commitment to diversity that goes beyond tokenism.
This Morning’s programmes editor has said that the team want to hire a black presenter to bring more diversity to the series https://t.co/6s50LzmN3S— Metro (@MetroUK) June 14, 2020
4. Paid days offAs Mojo Supermarket’s offer suggested, for Black and minoritised communities in the West, the past few weeks have felt particularly overwhelming. Shenequa Golding incisively articulated the unrealistic expectations placed on Black people to maintain professionalism despite the lockdown, the murder of George Floyd, the #BlackLivesMatter protests, the racist counter-protests in London, and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on ethnic minorities. There is a dire need for time and space to process, reflect, and support vulnerable groups right now.
- General Assembly announced that they would be giving their staff and community a paid mental health day on 5th June.
We cannot sit silent or idle while Black members of our community fall victim to systemic racism and violence. Here are the immediate actions we’re taking to power positive change in the global fight for justice. pic.twitter.com/pEilwOXLN1— General Assembly (@GA) June 4, 2020
- Juneteenth is observed annually by many African-Americans on 19th June to mark the emancipation from slavery in the US. Many companies, including Twitter, Square, Vox Media and Nike, have announced that they are making this a paid company holiday. Twitter is also working to identify which days to use as a company holiday to recognise the end of slavery in other countries.
Countries and regions around the world have their own days to celebrate emancipation, and we will do the work to make those dates company holidays everywhere we are present.— jack (@jack) June 9, 2020
5. Standing up to racismSome brands have problematic histories when it comes to racism. It has been difficult for these brands to shake off their pasts and brand associations. In instances like this, calling out racism from their base is a simple yet seismic action.
- To put it plainly, Nascar is a brand that has a racist history. The Confederate flag is a symbol of slavery and racism and is a common sight at Nascar circuits. A few days ago, Nascar took the bold move to ban it from all future events. This is historic for a brand whose core demographic, despite being white, report victimisation and feel left behind. It is a bold and commendable move by a brand that has more to lose in the short-term by taking a stance on the right-side of history. Bravo.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 10, 2020.
- Brits love tea and they love #solidaritea even more! A far-right activist, Laura Toweler, tweeted her approval that Yorkshire Tea had not yet supported #BlackLivesMatter. The brand’s response was immediate and scathing:
Please don't buy our tea again.— Yorkshire Tea (@YorkshireTea) June 8, 2020
We're taking some time to educate ourselves and plan proper action before we post. We stand against racism.
PG Tips then took their message of solidarity to a whole new level:
— PG tips (@PGtips) June 8, 2020
6. Pass the micThis moment requires much humility from brands and organisations that have for so long participated in, and contributed to, the systemic inequalities experienced by Black people. Brands should pass the mic to Black people whose voices have been ignored for so long.
- #ShareTheMicNow was inspired by the unjust truth that “When the world listens to women, it listens to white women.” The campaign saw Black female activists use the platform of 40 white women with large social media followings - people like Courtney Kardashian, Elizabeth Warren and Ariana Huffington - to foster conversations about racial justice.
Why black women are taking over white women’s Instagram accounts today https://t.co/jV4rDPHA1O— FORTUNE (@FortuneMagazine) June 10, 2020
Minoritised people are rarely heard in research. As we have said in earlier posts, “This is hard to justify at the best of times. In the midst of a global pandemic, it is plainly unacceptable. More than ever, research is needed to document their experiences and respond to their needs.”
- Fitbit released a statement with several actionable steps already covered above, but they also committed to “driving research projects that address health conditions that disproportionately affect Black people specifically, including COVID-19.”
- Another simple and powerful action is to actively work with Black employees and customers to understand their thoughts, ideas and feelings. Farfetch had the humility to engage their Black employees and take their concerns seriously, even highlighting them in this post; they recognised that this was a first step in a long process of unlearning and dismantling; and stated their commitment to “continue to learn [and] grow”.
View this post on Instagram
Forgive us for not posting sooner. We were doing what we felt was the most important thing to do first, talk to our people - the black community within Farfetch. We talked about what is happening right now in the U.S., but even more so about the systemic racism facing black people everywhere, in the hope that we could not only understand how best to act now but also how we can build a plan for the future. We heard our team's thoughts, ideas and feelings—some of which are highlighted here—and how they would like Farfetch to take action. We stand in solidarity with them to address and fight the racism they face daily. By creating a better company we hope to be an active part of creating a better global culture. There is a lot to do, we’re just at the beginning, but we believe it will only be possible if we do it together—Todos Juntos. Today our community of black employees and the entire Farfetch family is donating to each of the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. We will also be donating to charity to support our longer term goals of ensuring black representation in companies like ours. It’s just the starting point while we continue to learn, grow and remain committed to positive change for the future. #blacklivesmatter
A post shared by Farfetch (@farfetch) on
Our team has helped many organisations to understand the needs and aspirations of Black audiences, consumers and employees: from Channel 4 to Jaguar Land Rover, from the RSC to Estée Lauder, from Morrisons to the Greater London Authority.
Versiti continues to amplify the voice of those rarely heard in research and policy - and, after more than 20 years in this space - we continue to learn. Every single day. Because facts on the ground are complex, the situation is fluid and events can dramatically change virtually all aspects of life, in different ways, for different segments in each black community.
If you want to do something meaningful to contribute to a more equal and equitable world but are unsure how and don’t want to put a foot wrong, we will be delighted to have a chat, answer any questions you might have, and explore options for your brand to meaningfully engage with change, while remaining true to your identity and purpose.