Wake up daily to our latest coverage of business done better, directly in your inbox.


Get your weekly dose of analysis on rising corporate activism.


The best of solutions journalism in the sustainability space, published monthly.

Select Newsletter

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy. You can opt out anytime.

Jen Boynton headshot

Racial Justice at Work: Beyond Black Lives Matter

By Jen Boynton

When Symantec's Cecily Joseph and I conceived this series last summer, we were riding high on optimism. While police violence against people of color was not slowing down, it -- and the implicit bias it represented -- were reaching mainstream consciousness in a way we'd never seen before.

We saw this series as an opportunity to boost that signal to the business community and give corporate social responsibility (CSR) directors the tools to effectively support their staff through a difficult time and challenge implicit bias in the workplace.

Our intent with our series -- Black Lives Matter and Beyond: Corporate Leaders Respond -- was to help business leaders become more comfortable talking about race, social inequality, and implicit bias at work -- and to support them in creating more inclusive environments.

We delivered in that regard with an examination of where the fear comes from, specific tips for how companies can be allies on race issues, a Twitter chat on the topic, a call-to-action to reach true diversity in five years, and a look at public policies that can drive inclusion and some that hold it back.

We strived to showcase leaders in the space and found that even companies that send press releases touting their diversity were uncomfortable being interviewed about it. This is a shame and speaks to the work we have left to do. For it's only when we're comfortable naming implicit bias that we can counteract it.

I remain immensely grateful to Cecily Joseph and the team at Symantec for underwriting this series. Their support showed courage and a willingness to learn that every organization should aim to replicate.

On this side of the November presidential election, it is clear we have a long road ahead. We should be concerned that the social and environmental safety net that was slowly built during the Obama administration is much more vulnerable now than it once seemed.

That means the responsibility for furthering a just society will fall more heavily on the shoulders of business leaders and, really, everyone reading this article. We must take special efforts to improve our local communities and our workforces.

As Martin Luther King Jr. is oft-quoted as saying: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." We should all strive to meet the high standards he set for us and to pursue social justice when it's easy, but also when it appears most difficult, like it may seem now.

Moving on to 2017, I plan to focus on concrete areas where I can make a difference. And I encourage you, your CSR teams and your companies to do the same. Here are some ideas I plan to implement:

  • Get local: Engage in local politics; serve on committees; support local candidates; volunteer! Companies can support these efforts by giving employees time off to volunteer for local causes and by donating to local organizations. I'd be remiss if I didn't plug my absolute favorite local action. I've chosen to volunteer as a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for foster children in my community. I represent two sisters, and my job is to be their voice during their journey through the slow and sometimes maddening foster care system. By giving my community's most vulnerable citizens a voice during what may be the darkest hours of their lives, I'm investing in my community's present and future. Every county in the U.S. has a CASA program, and anyone can be a CASA. This type of local, tangible action is a wonderful counterpoint to my day job at TriplePundit, where our work can feel abstract at times.

  • Speak up about racism: Speak up loudly about implicit violence, and other such problems when you see them occurring, especially at work. Be an ally to those who may not have the social capital to risk speaking up themselves

  • Create inclusive policies at work: As we know, diversity breeds resilient organizations

  • Talk about race, even if it's uncomfortable! Don't be afraid to be wrong. Don't be afraid to learn.

  • Support inclusive hiring practicesPretty much self-explanatory.

What will you do? Tell us about it in the comments section and on social media using the hashtag #BLMandBeyond.

Image credit: Pexels

Jen Boynton headshot

Jen Boynton is the former Editor-in-Chief of TriplePundit. She has an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School and has helped organizations including SAP, PwC and Fair Trade USA with their sustainability communications messaging. She is based in San Diego, California. When she's not at work, she volunteers as a CASA (court appointed special advocate) for children in the foster care system. She enjoys losing fights with toddlers and eating toast scraps. She lives with her family in sunny San Diego.

Read more stories by Jen Boynton