We have expanded the reach of our weekly Stepping Up report to bring you a selection of the latest issues in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as well as the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, examining how brands can kick-start or continue their efforts to make a difference.    

Systemic racism in North America dominates the news cycle

How will you acknowledge issues of race and equity in society and at your organization? What is your education and change roadmap, and will employees be presented with formal opportunities to hold you accountable?  

The rush to show solidarity with the Black community  

  • In the week following George Floyd’s killing by police, brands across North America publicly expressed solidarity with Black communities, some accompanied by concrete pledges or donations. Others took the opportunity to pause their social media content and instead share anti-racism readings and resources.
  • These statements have been met with mixed reactions from media, activists and BIPOC (Black and Indigenous people of colour) communities, ranging from praise to bemusement and surprise to disappointment.

What concrete, long-term actions and financial pledges are you making beyond statements of solidarity? How can your organization contribute by amplifying Black and minority voices?  

“Difficult conversations” re-enter the news cycle, and public (and private) discourse  

  • This week, we have also seen so-called “difficult conversations” resurface, with renewed debate surrounding the removal of statues, and fresh calls to rename sports teams and streets in major North American cities.
  • Questions about difficult conversations are also finding their way into our homes. For example, when should we talk to young children about systemic racism? In our workplaces, we are again asking whether our leadership is diverse enough, and how to tackle the unconscious bias in our business decisions. 

Are you evaluating the diversity of your marketing activities and the stories you tell (and don’t tell) and how this reflects your leadership’s priorities and values?  Will you ask difficult questions about your management teams, and whether decision makers reflect your customers, audiences or the population (and make the answers public)? 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, more evidence of its disproportionate effect on BIPOC 

  • Black communities continue to be disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and suffer inequities in access to staples like groceries; home schooling resources; loans and rent or mortgage deferral, etc. 
  • And it’s not just the direct health impact of COVID-19, but also secondary impacts such as mental health and rising suicide among Black youth in the US.  

Do your current COVID-19 policies account for the higher rates of infection among BIPOC employees and customers? What are you doing to alter a product or service to help people from these communities gain equitable access to resources during the pandemic? 

And more evidence the pandemic is reversing societal progress 

  •  As COVID-19 competes for space in the news cycle with other significant social issues, we are still learning about the effect of the pandemic in reversing societal progress: For example, the safety and economic welfare of essential and migrant workers in Canada, and a host of issues south of the border, including youth “connection,” gender equalityeconomic progress and job growth

Can your organization extend flexibility around work hours to women bearing the disproportionate share of parenting duties? Can you offer remote training, online learning credits or internships for youth at your company?   

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