As millions of people around the globe have united to support the Black Lives Matter movement, demand justice and fight for equality, against racism and much more, organizations, brands and businesses also have been weighing in to show support.
Nike was one of the first with this message on Twitter encouraging all to take part in a positive change. Netflix elevated an important message to its following of more than eight million that stated, “To be silent is to be complicit. Black lives matter. We have a platform, and we have a duty to our Black members, employees, creators and talent to speak up,” receiving over a million likes.
L’Oréal Paris also took to social media when sharing a branded version of its support on Instagram. The graphic stated, “Speaking out is worth it,” and it was posted with a message stating, “L’Oréal Paris stands in solidarity with the Black community, and against injustice of any kind.”
Unfortunately for L’Oréal, fans were quick to claim hypocrisy and called out the beauty brand who in 2017 fired model and activist Munroe Bergorf for speaking out about racial violence and injustice.
Many brands have also remained silent, not ready or willing to tread the waters of such a controversial and sensitive topic.
The conversations we need to be having with our friends, family members and even in the workplace are difficult, but need to be had. And as we progress in this movement, people are continuing to hold each other as well as brands, businesses and organizations accountable – both globally and within communities. From a communications standpoint, what is the best thing for a company to do? There is no right answer, right response or right strategy that can be implemented across the board. But one rule companies should follow is to do what’s right by being intentional, actionable and committed.
Don’t rush to get the word out. Be intentional.
To be silent is to be complicit and people as well as companies are feeling the pressure to post, share and get their message out. While companies are responsible for taking a stance in support of this movement, it must be done with integrity and vigor. And as our examples of brands speaking up prove, this will come more organically for some than it will for others. This isn’t the first time Nike has backed protesting against racial inequality and police brutality. And for L’Oréal Paris, its history also impacted the brand’s recent support.
When crafting messaging and a strategy to align your company with this cause, be sure to keep the following in mind:
- Be consistent with your values. Take a look at your company’s leadership, history, diversity and make sure that any messaging aligns with your company’s values and culture. And if your intentions don’t measure up, take a step back and work to address that internally.
- Don’t make it about you. Speak up because it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s what your customers or followers want from you or because you want recognition.
It’s not enough to condemn racism. Take action.
Companies who stand in solidarity with protestors virtually or in its messaging must also take action. In this article on brands weighing in on the recent protests, AP News shares that brand experts believe corporate America needs to outline a plan of action to combat racism.
“There is no reason to make a public statement unless the company actually has a concrete plan to help resolve the issue of racism,” Wendy Liebmann, founder and CEO of WSL Strategic Retail says in the article. She goes on to praise Peloton’s Twitter pledge to donate $500,000 to the NAACP legal defense fund.
And back to the Nike example mentioned early on: even its words this time, however consistent with its core values, were not enough.
“Where is the real action? This will only be considered a selfish marketing strategy until we see some solid action,” one social media user commented, according to NBC News.
After initial backlash, the athletic company pledged a $40 million “commitment over the next four years to support the Black community in the U.S.”
For smaller, local companies, a multi-million-dollar donation might not be feasible, but there are several other ways to offer support beyond monetary contributions. Here are a few immediate and long-term actions to consider:
- Educate leadership, employees and curate resources. Invest in diversity and inclusion training in the workplace for all employee levels and develop a safe space for employees to address or discuss issues. Curate educational resources or opportunities to donate or volunteer with local organizations.
- Listen to and amplify black voices and concerns. Listen to your employees, customers and followers who are being directly impacted. What are their concerns, suggested solutions and insight? Learn what their experiences have been to amplify their perspective and address their needs.
- Donate to and support local black businesses and organizations. This is a tangible way to support organizations on the frontlines fighting for justice and equality as well as uplifting black-owned businesses and communities in your backyard. Consider making a sizeable donation, if you can, or choose a black-owned restaurant to cater your next office lunch.
Commit to change.
What’s happening across our nation isn’t a trend or a timely bandwagon to jump on. It is a revolution that will not happen overnight. Be proud if you’re taking a stance in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and keep the momentum going with an actionable plan. From education to supporting black businesses to taking a step back and reevaluating your company or organization’s culture and values, black lives need our commitment to change.
What we’re doing.
The Hodges team is working to support in ways that work for a small business like ours. Our office is committed to learning more, inviting experts to train our teams on unconscious bias, supporting local initiatives like The Monument Commitment, listening and intentionally supporting black businesses through our #RVAThrive initiative and on our own.
Photo by: Sean Kelley