I have struggled to find the right words over the past several weeks. Nothing I say can make this better. Nothing I say can right the wrongs. But I have seen the calls for all of us to speak up against racism. And so I am compelled to do so.
As a communicator by trade, I understand the value and importance of words. They do matter. But today they are not enough. Tweeting out a statement is not enough. Below are just a few actions that businesses of all sizes can use - starting today - to put real power behind the words.
Take time to learn. Take advantage of the many (mostly free) diversity panels, workshops and other discussions happening these days. Collaborate with your Black colleagues and offer opportunities for your employees and clients to learn. Find out how to stand up against racism and share those ideas with your networks.
Listen to your Black employees, vendors, clients and partners. Make sure they have a voice in your business. Smaller companies can reach out to colleagues and ask how you can more strongly support them. If you are a larger organization, establish employee resource groups, give them a budget to celebrate and to educate, and ask for their input to marketing, community and employee initiatives.
Establish a supplier diversity program. Whether you are a soloprenuer or a global corporation, you should take steps to ensure you are working with minority owned vendors. Make a concerted effort to find diverse suppliers, and if you can't find them, look for opportunities to encourage more minority access - and success - in your industry.
Take a close look at your organizational values. Are diversity and inclusion a part of your guiding principles? If not, why not? And if they are, are those just words? Or are you truly living that value? Do your policies reflect that commitment to diversity? Does your leadership team? Does your brand? Do you have a specific recruitment strategy to reach potential minority employees? If not, put together an action plan to do better.
These are just a few things that I've done in my career and that I've worked through with clients. I know this just scratches the surface, and I am not the first to make these suggestions. But if I can use my voice - however small - I will.
To my Black colleagues, clients and friends, I just want you to know that I see you. I value you for who you are. And I pledge to do what I can to support you and to change the narrative.