The global pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 have placed the ugly reality of racial inequality on the world stage and created hunger for progress. Yet many leaders simply don’t know how to achieve it.
In her now viral poem Leslie Dwight asks: “What if 2020 isn’t cancelled? What if 2020 is the year we’ve been waiting for? A year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw — that it finally forces us to grow.”
Dwight published her poem in June as the pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests swept the globe. Discussion about the inequalities and injustice on ethnic minority communities were in full swing in the streets, in homes and in workplaces and people from different backgrounds united in sharing their support to end racism, be it through marches or posting black squares on social media.
Such scale of passion and frustration present a very real possibility for change, but how many of us actually know how to turn a moment into movement?
The time for talking is over.
As Co-founder and CEO of Green Park, one of the UK’s few minority owned recruitment businesses and one that has campaigned for diversity, inclusion and equality since its inception, I was spurred on a mission to find a tangible solution that would move businesses from declarations of support to meaningful action for difference.
As a result, I collaborated with like-minded organisations to speak with over 270 senior leaders, allies, Diversity & Inclusion experts and Race Network Chairs, over the course of 70 in-depth interviews and 150 discussions. What did we discover? That while racial inequality still exists and the will to do something about it had grown, the skills and knowledge to make change happen had not. The key issue identified as being the failure to build a permanent and sustainable bridge between lived experience in organisations, investment and decision-making.
- Nearly 50% of Race Network Chairs had left a job in the past as a result of racism.
- Three in four Race Network Chairs did not consider their organisation to be inclusive.
- 100% of experts and 75% of Race Network Chairs felt that recent PR and statements by organisations were meaningless if corresponding action did not follow.
Now is the time to act.
Race networks are a key component to bridging that gap between those with lived experience and those with the power to invest and decision-make, yet too often they have little influence or empowerment to create change.
I hope that Dwight is right and 2020 is they year we have been waiting for. The year that finally forces us to grow. However, declarations of support will not make 2020 the year of change. However, purposeful action can.
By providing networks with the right resources, insights, tools and collaboration opportunities we can amplify their voices and together ensure real change finally happens.
Join the movement. Be the change.
Race Equality Matters is a UK wide collaboration of companies, organisations, race networks, experts in the field, allies and employees creating change to achieve Race Equality in our workplaces. They are launching the UK’s first ever Race Equality Week – 1-7 February 2021.
We’re pleased to support the National Campaign for Diversity & Inclusion with Mediaplanet, as published in The Guardian on Wednesday 16th of December, 2020.