Four ways brands can really support racial equality.

“There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen.”
— Vladimir Lenin

And these weeks and months have really been happening.

The horrific murder of George Floyd has catapulted riots, protests and a general out pouring of anti-racist sentiment, globally. Brands, and large business have done what they now must always do, publicly renounce such deplorable behaviour.

But writing and publishing statements, creating social media ads or posting on instagram, will no longer cut it.

Consumers are not blind fools, to whom business can just pull the wool over their eyes. They know and can feel sincere brands. Brands that are just pushing a statement out for PR reasons as well as brands who are just posting because others have, are now seen in poor taste, such as was the incident with Louis Vuitton’ failed ‘black lives matter’ video , which received a huge backlash, some asking in response;

“How many black people do you even employ Louis Vuitton?”

“How many black people are in leadership positions in your head quarters?”

and to take it further, consumers asked, for real figures, company statistics that show if Louis Vuitton really at heart believe, that black lives matter, that black people are of value.

And thats the thing isn’t it, it is one thing to say the right thing, it is quite another to DO the right thing. I am sure, every company would openly and to some extent honestly say they stand against racism but what do the business employment statistics show? Thats the true test isn’t it?…

Consumers, are bored, tired even, of the standardised statements, of the riding on the politically correct bandwagon. We are now expecting more from the businesses we support. We are fed-up of brands committing to meaningful change, wether that be racial equality or sustainability and then doing little to enforce their promises.

The public disdain for such PR campaigns and statements has reached its peak, and brands like Louis Vuitton are seeing that consumers are now raising the moral bar and expecting that behind the marketing campaigns, money is being put where mouths are.

And the honest truth is that, companies that care, measure, companies that want to do better, measure.

Where is your metric commitment? (we need to see it, to believe it)

Sportswear giant, Nike is a interesting example of company that comes with some level of sincerity, when saying they stand for racial equality. There simple ad, seemed to fare much better with the public than that of Louis Vuitton.

Because unlike Louis Vuitton, this isn’t Nike’ first step into publicly voicing and backing racial equality issues. In the past while others brands shied away, Nike have stepped forward. One such example is that of the endorsement and support for NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who took refused to stand for the national anthem in protest against police brutality and racial injustice.

Another key and crucial take away point for businesses is that, Nike, have measured and made their employment statistics public, this level of transparency means we all able to see the progress Nike is making, year on year, to improve diversity at all levels of its business.

While these stats may seem small, the sad fact is, Nike is one of the leading companies for diversity, particularly in leadership positions.

It is no secret, that fashion, has and is more than lagging behind when it comes to the incorporation of diversity, from marketing campaigns, to back office roles and key leadership positions.

So what can your business learn from the examples of Louis Vuitton and Nike?

Firstly, incognisant business, it not acceptable anymore. The media is now so widespread, no-one can be left behind, racial inequality is a global problem and can not be ignored and revisited as and when. So you must address racial inequality issues in your patch. More than ever, people are buying into brands, because of what it says about them, the tribe to which they choose to belong to. Social issues are now a central point to brand messaging. So think about what you want your brand/ business to say about issues such as racial inequality, we are no longer wanting brands to be silent on issues so grave to social rest.

According to a global study, two-thirds of shoppers make buying decisions based on a brands position on social and political issues.

Secondly, statements, gestures of goodwill, is a start but you have to go beyond the PR move. Consumers can and are now calling out incongruent brands. If you make a statement, if you pledge, then create the necessary to show you take it seriously in your business. That could be creating a talent pipe line for black people and other diverse backgrounds.

Thirdly, actively record and review. What you measure you can analyse and make better. If racial equality is, as important as your posts and statements claim, start to measure your diversity and create an environment of inclusion. How many black people are in your organisation? could it be better? What are the issues holding back your business form hiring from ethnically diverse backgrounds? What might you now put in place to make positive progress?

Lastly, if you do have a pretty solid number of black people employed great! I would suggest looking at if there are pay gaps between your white and black employees of the equal level, and if so why? Should there be any reason for the pay distinction? Are there any obvious and not so obvious reasons why black employees are receiving less than others in your business?

Really, this is a chance to press the restart button for brands and businesses across the world. A chance to do away with racial bias and diversity disparity, that is the hope.

If you want to, you will find a way, at the burning of Notre Dam LVMH, the parent company of Louis Vuitton pledged €200 million to rebuild it.

And so now, we have to ask, who is willing to rebuild social constructs that empower, respect and value all, regardless of race?

Environmental and human rights advocate