We Need To Do More Than Speaking Out
Many people posted black squares on social media last week in response to George Floyd's death. A powerful symbol of their support in the fight against systemic injustice. But to us, it didn't feel right to just post on social media, express our outrage, and then move on. We felt we needed to do more.
Let's be clear. We strongly believe in the power of symbolic gestures. It's vital in any successful revolution—and in any fight for a worthy cause. But the murder on George Floyd and the deep systemic racism it has - once again - exposed, requires us to do more than mere symbolism.
We - and I'm talking about Corporate Rebels just as much as any other organization and individual - need to take a good hard look at ourselves. Are we contributing to businesses, society, and a world riddled with inequality, racism, sexism and discrimination? Are we doing too little to actively change it? Do our thoughts, actions, jokes and words subconsciously perpetuate a world with which we fundamentally disagree?
We have to do more to change it. We have to think deeper. We have to discuss it more often. We have to pick up that mirror and look into it more intensely.
Let's do so, no matter how uncomfortable that is.
Take for example our Bucket List. The list of workplace pioneers (filled with academics, CEOs, and entrepreneurs from around the world) is heavily skewed towards older white men. That's not because we're consciously ignoring minorities, or that we believe white men are smarter and have more interesting things to say. And yes, it's partly due to the fact that in many parts of the world in business and academics, diversity is lacking and the list is probably a representation of that inequality.
But that cannot be an excuse. If anything, it should be a reason to fight even harder to change it.
We know this and we regularly discuss it. We write about it. We try to change it. But the question is: are we really doing enough to actually change it?
A brief introspection with the team quickly popped up some more uncomfortable questions. Why isn't there more diversity in our team? Or the guest authors we feature on our platform? How about the people we work with? What about our closest friends? The social networks we belong to? Or the places we visit?
Having the difficult conversations
Asking such questions is way easier than answering them. But that's not a reason to avoid them. As Krys Burnette, Director of Digital Transformation at Adidas, put it well: "The truth is — This shit is hard for anyone to talk about; but that’s also a lazy excuse to avoid talking about difficult topics."
We should have more of such uncomfortable conversations around racism, discrimination and a lack of diversity and inclusion. You, me, all of us. And we need to keep having those until we have turned them into all the action that is required to solve the issues of inequality.
Having the difficult conversations and accompanying them with solid action is what we need right now. Now is the time to do it.
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian certainly understood that when he resigned this week from the company’s board and urged the company to replace him with a black person. He also donated one million dollar to Colin Kaepernick’s ‘Know Your Rights’ campaign and will use the future gains from his Reddit stock to benefit the black community.
We, at Corporate Rebels, need to play our part too. At first, by committing ourselves to having more conversations around such topics with our team, our clients, and our community. We commit to learn more and share more insights into how progressive organizations are breaking with systemic injustice. We commit to be more conscious about diversifying our platform by featuring more diverse guest authors. And, we are taking a first step right now to diversify our Bucket List.
You can help us with that.
Help us by highlighting people representing a more diverse ethnicity, geographical location, skin color, age, and background for our Bucket List. Point us towards a more diverse group of workplace pioneers who are challenging and changing the status quo. We'd love to more consciously amplify their voices through our platform.
Please drop your suggestions in the comments below and/or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's great that so many of our readers and the people in the Corporate Rebels community are open-minded and progressive in their thinking and doing. It's also why we believe that jointly we can play our part in addressing these issues and positively pushing ourselves, our workplaces, and our societies towards more diversity and inclusion.
- If you haven't spoken out, ask yourself why
- Are you (subconsciously) perpetuating systemic racism?
- What actions can you take to change it?
We all can - and have to - be more conscious about this. Don't let fear of saying the wrong thing keep you from speaking out. Don't let imperfection keep you from taking action.
Let’s get to it.
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Bravo! Well said, Pim. Thank you for the kick in the pants. What am i actually doing about it? For me, being more curious to explore who is out there doing cool stuff in this space would be a great catalyst. Let's show what's already happening... help people see what's possible ... I am as guilty as the next person for well intentioned inertia. I commit to actively research and do something differently in 2020.
You should interview Luthern Williams. He's Principal at New Roads school in Santa Monica - an independent private school, but it's not what you think. Luthern (one of the few black Independent Principals in the US) looks after the children of movie moguls and billionaires - and uses that money to provide free-cost education for hundreds of African American kids from Compton, LA. When you visit the school it's impossible to tell who's wealthy, who's poor. The school is entirely based around diversity - in its curriculum, in its staffing, in its projects. It models the kind of social justice they want to see in the world. He's incredibly articulate and writes passionately on racial injustice.
Marjolijn Vlug nudged me to reach out to you. I am open to a conversation. I have been speaking up for a while now via Let's Humanize The Workplace and recently did a live interview Diversity & Inclusion Let's Pull Up https://youtu.be/ySeLb8QdmY0
A while ago I interviewed Catherine Bexkens for the podcast Go2Thrive.
Looking forward to the conversation.
Most career goals are still focused on climbing a broken corporate ladder. Linear career paths are still the norm. Yet we all know the world (of work) changes quickly. Let's say goodbye to traditional career paths and embrace a more fluid world.
"I'd rather get it wrong than not do it at all". These words started a powerful initiative within housing association United Welsh in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. They came from Lynda Sagona, the chief executive, and led to a deep and impactful series of words and deeds.