On Tuesday, June 2nd of 2020, Instagram went dark. According to AdAge, over 950 companies participated in Blackout Tuesday, showing support for the Black community. It’s been over a year. Where are we now?
The movement claiming to be “showing up” turned into just a show. Many companies acknowledged injustices and some made vague commitments to change.
It’s no longer frowned upon for businesses to take political stances. Getting political used to be a risky choice for a brand to make. Now silence and inaction can hurt them more. Consumers want to know that they are spending their money on companies that align with their values.
According to the public relations firm Edelman, public opinion is on the side of action. Seventy-seven percent of the U.S. population they surveyed said “it is deeply important that companies respond to racial injustice to earn or keep their trust.”
Companies need to acknowledge the harm caused by racist policies and make structural changes to reform themselves.
For some companies this will mean promoting more People of Color to positions of power.
For other companies it will be encouraging HR to take cases of discrimination seriously, and not reprimanding people for making them.
They can also partner with the movements calling for change instead of fighting against them. The Fifteen Percent Pledge calls on retailers to commit 15% of their shelf to Black-owned businesses.
Voters are showing lawmakers that they want to see Black lives valued and protected. The pressure to make these laws hasn’t kept up. Corporations can’t wait for laws to pass before they start enacting policy changes.
If corporations want to make good on the promises they made last summer, they need to step up to protect their Black customers and staff members.
Laws are coming slowly, if at all. If the government isn’t going to step up, businesses will have to go first.