Responding to social unrest
In the past ering on the side of caution when voicing political opinion was the status quo. This day in age, the opposite holds true. Many companies are voicing support for the Black Lives Movement (BLM) as well as issues impacting the planet and human rights. What does this look like in the staffing industry though? How does your company participate in the national conversation without being performative? Is it even appropriate to respond?
Short answer: Yes, you should respond.
Long answer: If you are a conscientious company, you likely already have the resources for speaking up. Often a company’s mission or vision will hold the key to relating to the world’s forward moving and evolving landscape. This is reflected in your branding and in your policies. You are set up for making a statement of support to the public.
If your company has had these initiatives on the back burner, now is the time to start drafting your action plan. Let any statement you put out reflect the actions you plan to take. Then take them.
Don’t let the simplicity of these statements mislead you. While a statement of support sounds like a logical step to saying “we care”, clients, customers and future employees aren’t easily fooled. Unless you have the steps you are taking, it will all look like a performance in times of adversity.
Actions speak louder than words.
Clients, recruits and your staff are smart. They can see through a blanket statement or a buzzword hashtag pretty quickly. While statements of support for BLM may look different from company to company, they all say the same thing: “marketing opportunity”.
The world wants to see systemic change. Every system in our society has room for equitable growth no matter if you start today or have been working on these issues since the 1960’s. Our parents, teachers and leaders have been echoing the same sentiment since all of time, actions speak louder than words.
So we ask you, how are you advocating for change? How are you showing your support for the movement you want to support?
Before you release your statement, you should be drafting an action plan that states how you plan on being the change, not just speaking about the needed change, in your company and/or industry.
But what does that look like?
- Donating to organizations
This can be an organization that supports youth literacy in underserved communities to directly sending money to the Black Lives Matter movement. That’s up to you.
Everyone has room to grow. Microaggressions, systemic oppression, biases lay deep in our culture. Becoming an anti-racist takes thoughtful work. It’s powerful to offer this opportunity to your staff especially in an industry that is on the frontline of equitable hiring.
- Review Practices
Take a good look at how you are hiring, we can guarantee there is room for improvement. Make sure you are as equitable as you say you are. Share your hiring policies with potential candidates.
Aligning with your company values
Start with your values and work from there to speak out about supporting any movement. Having a statement or marketing campaign align with your company’s values can be more authentic than hopping on the hashtag bandwagon. If your company values diversity and equity, great. Even if your company values aren’t specifically about diversity, equity, or inclusivity but broader ideas such as open books finances or ongoing training, there are ways to align those beliefs with big social issues. Don’t feel like you need to run off track to show you care.
If you don’t have a values document for your company, start there.
Know your audience
If your audience is customers, clients, recruits you don’t already have relationships with, your intentions are misaligned. Your audience needs to be the people you already work with, even better would be the people that work for your company. You wouldn’t exist without them.
Start with your staff. Check in with them and find out how they are coping with social issues. Are they from a marginalized community? Are they living in an area fraught with protest? Have they been spending their off time at protests or spending their savings on donating to a cause they believe in? Align with them. Match them. Let them participate in this conversation.
This can also ring true for clients you staff or for the folks you are placing. Most large companies aren’t sitting on the sidelines for big issues. Social media won’t let them. They aren’t allowed to because #silenceiscompliance is pulling even the shyest companies to the front lines. You may not need to match them on the scale of your altruism, but you should lean into the right side of history.
Assessing your strategy for change
We understand that owning a small company comes with a long to-do list. The world always has something going on. Climate change. Pandemics. Protests. Each time you wonder, is this moment different from any other? Do I need to spend the money and time addressing news headlines? No, you shouldn’t be addressing each news headline. You should be addressing how your company weaves diversity, equity, inclusion and even belonging into the framework of your business so it doesn’t feel like extra work. It ends up being just the work that you do.
Consider updating the language in your company copy to be more inclusive, offer training in combating biases, incorporate equitable standards in hiring. These things should be the status quo.
What does action look like?
Not every action has to be public. Altruistic acts can be complicated. Let’s keep it simple. A header note, image or banner on your homepage that tells customers where your support is going will speak louder than running an ad trying to express the same.
Now is not the time to sit back. Companies put money into all sides of politics or campaigns that echo their beliefs all time. Be sure you are placing yourself on the right side of history by fighting for what you know is right.