S1E6: Corporate reputation and Black Lives Matter
Updated: Aug 26, 2020
Today I am bringing you something a little bit different from our usual format. I recorded the first episode of this series before George Floyd was killed, catapulting the Black Lives Matters movement into a much wider audience. And so, we talked about the importance of diversity for corporate reputation but we didn’t discuss recent events. It is now three months later and I have brought together three guests, each with a different area of expertise: social media; diversity and inclusion; and corporate affairs. I ask them what has changed, what lessons companies can learn and how organisations will be held accountable.
Listen here for more insight and comment from:
Bieneosa Ebite from the podcast News Bants
Becky Brynolf from Shelter, and
Bola Gibson from Osborne Clarke
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Or read on for a full transcript of the episode:
S1E6 - Corporate reputation and Black Lives Matter
[00:00:00] Bola Gibson: Hi, I'm Bola Gibson. I am Head of Inclusion and Corporate Responsibility for the international legal practice Osborne Clarke.
Becky Brynolf: Hello, I'm Becky Brynolf. I'm the social media lead at Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity.
Bieneosa Ebite: Hi, I'm Bieneosa Ebite. I'm a senior corporate affairs professional, and I'm also a cohost for News Bants, a news commentary podcast.
Daisy Powell-Chandler: Welcome to Why Everybody Hates You, an audio support group for reputation professionals. If you have any responsibility for how people talk, think, and feel about your organization, then you are in the right place. My name is Daisy Powell-Chandler. And today I'm bringing you something a little bit different from our usual format.
I recorded the first episode of this series before George Floyd was killed, [00:01:00] catapulting the Black Lives Matter movement into a much wider audience. And so we talked about the importance of diversity for corporate reputation, but we didn't discuss that in light of recent events. It is now three months later and I've brought together three guests each with a different area of expertise: social media, diversity and inclusion, and corporate affairs. I asked them what has changed, what lessons companies can learn and how organizations will be held accountable. To begin with, Becky gave us a brief overview of how events have unfurled over the past three months.
Becky Brynolf: So it's probably important to consider the, the environment that all of this kicked off in. So obviously prior to lockdown on the pandemic, black lives matter was a movement that was recognized globally, but perhaps wasn't as mainstream as it is at the moment and didn't, perhaps, Kind of inspire quite as much sort of particularly corporate, [00:02:00] actions as it has so far.
So on the 25th of May, two very significant events took place. One of which being, George Floyd being killed by police officers and there's being captured on camera and shared around the world. And on the same day, a white woman named Amy Cooper who was walking her dog in central park was also captured on camera essentially, demonstrating. On, in a way that if it appeared in a TV show, it would be considered on the nose, demonstrating how she had a very clear awareness of how she could weaponize her whiteness and weaponized the police against a black man who was just asking her to put her dog on a leash.
And she said, the words I'm taking a picture and calling the cops, I'm going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life. So this is a bit of a gotcha moment. When you combine this with the footage of George Floyd, with people in lockdown for a few months already, who are scared of losing income, stuck at home, frustrated at lack of leadership, essentially having nothing else to do, but doom scroll through their soial media feeds and ask "why [00:03:00] should we be following the rules and examples that are set by people who are not following the rules and setting good examples. Why should we honor that social contract" and people at the same time, just kind of desperate to find meaning, and also use this time purposefully because we really have no idea when this was all going to end. But we're very aware of all the injustice that was very clearly being transmitted into our hands in our screens. Every minute of every day, there was a lot to take in. So, we saw the Black Lives Matter, protest grow, exponentially. On a massive scale, like never before seen. and these are amplified by media outlets who were very focused on the more sensational aspects of the protest. And then there is this discourse on the right way to protest and you know, how to force the issue and how to best make change happen. And there was lots of discussion about on either side of the aisle of this, And then there was another pivotal moment when, so a statue of Edward Colston was pulled down in Bristol and this happened after years of the local community going through the proper [00:04:00] channels, you know, the proper way to protest and proper ways of discourse by, positioning and asking for this to be removed or, you know, The displayed with proper context as to the history of slavery in Bristol, but then the emotion and the movement.
Yeah. And it was just pulled down. And this was also followed by lots of other statues around the world being removed or being accompanied by other plaques, giving it more context. So the discourse on online on social media continues, doom scrolling continues, discourse about what is, what is, you know, our history versus what is a celebration of racism?
You know, what, what, what is and isn't racism in the first place? What is, and isn't violence. And you know, whether that be what happened to George Floyd and countless other people of color throughout history, right up to having to walk past a statue, honoring slavery on your way to school or work every day.
There was a significant period where lots of people pledged to Blackout Tuesday, which was where everybody would post black squares across our social media channels and just take a step back and take a day of learning and listening and [00:05:00] reflection. Unfortunately, this got a kind of. The wires were crossed because people were so desperate to, to do well.
And lots of very well meaning people, use like the wrong hashtag: the black lives matter hashtag was meant for sharing information, and, and learning and the black and the black square was meant for something else. But, what actually happened is that social media feeds were flooded then with black squares and then that kind of omitted and silenced a lot of voices that were trying to share useful information, but also followed where lots of newsfeeds, full of bad graphics with white text, from corporations and individuals or pledges to listen and learn and make space for black voices and to do better.
Now, all this time on, now in terms of the discourse, it really depends on who you follow on what you're seeing. So some American cities are continuing to protest every day but the new scycle has long since moved on and it's, it's only by following really switched on groups on social media that you'll catch up to date with all of that.
There's also the [00:06:00] Facebook boycotts. So advertisers being encouraged to withdraw money from the platform and other social media platforms because, the algorithms were promoting hate speech, but that was really only that conversation was only really happening with other advertisers. I think the general public was sort of like not really aware of this.
And in that time, more black voices have gained prominence; anti-racist literature has climbed up the book charts. but in terms of dismantling the structural issues on a bigger societal scale, a lot of those organizations who made those public pledges initially a few months ago, they have gone quiet since, and it's only the ones, the ones you're hearing now are ones who've been long doing the work for a long time. So like Ben and Jerry's, for example, they've been in this game for quite some time. They've got the structures in place. They know what they're doing. They're happy to speak out, but the ones who made the pledges recently, they may have come quiet.
But I don't think that necessarily means that the pledges were tokenistic. I think the proof of the pudding is going to be in the coming weeks and months when we'll start to see the fruits of the labor of the organizations who have been taking those conversations [00:07:00] internally and are going to start publicly making good on those pledges.
And then we'll also see which ones who were being tokenistic
Daisy Powell-Chandler: Lets start with Bieneosa then, in terms of what's happening beyond social media, so Becky has given us a great whistle stop tour of what the protest has looked like on social media and some of the context in which that sits, but she also alluded to the fact that there has been some criticism of companies for taking part in the online outrage without really enacting changes within their own organization and their own working procedures.
How much of that have you seen, and what's your feel about how much this is going to lead to real change?
Bieneosa Ebite: Yeah, that's a really interesting question. I think it's very easy for brands to be seen as activists, particularly for something like black lives matter. I mean, it really caught fire the actual movement.
And obviously what happened with the dreadful killing of George Floyd. And I think it was very easy for brands to, [00:08:00] attach the hashtag black lives matter and to show their solidarity. But of course it goes beyond just showing your solidarity online. It's what are you actually doing as an organization? I think we've seen brands, for example, L'Oreal is a good example. So they had, Monroe Bergdorf as their ambassador a few years back. and interestingly, they dropped her from that role when she made some remarks with regards to the protests that were going on in Charlottesville and she called out white supremacy. And at the time L'Oreal dropped her. and said that, Monroe, was at odds with their kind of view of things.
And interestingly, as soon as the black lives matter protest happens and that gained traction, they since recalled her back to be a consultant on diversity and inclusion initiatives, which I find really, really interesting. And they have given lots of money to various organizations for the black [00:09:00] communities and transgender communities as well.
So it's really interesting that they've taken this step, which, you know, you could see it as an opportunistic step. for them to do that. But interestingly in Monroe has gone back and they had issued a joint statement and she seems to be happy with what the organization is doing. But I think that is a good example of a brand who perhaps, you know, they were out of touch with, with public feeling at the time and have since gone back on that and, you know, mea culpa they've they said, you know, that, that they see what's going on now in the world and, and want to make a difference. So that's really interesting. Then you see other organizations like Nike a bit like Ben and Jerry's, Nike has a bit of a history of supporting, kind of underrepresented groups and making, if you like political statements.
And we saw that, back in 2018 with Colin Kaepernick. When he was sacked from the NFL because he took a knee in protest against police brutality. [00:10:00] And interestingly, you know, Nike stuck with Colin, and obviously during the black lives matter, protests have been very vocal as well, but we've seen that people have actually looked a bit deeper now into what Nike as an organization.
So externally. You know, organizations can project this message of support and solidarity, but now people are starting to look at organizations and what their actual makeup as an organization looks like and Nike were called out on their diversity. last year, 2019, because less than 10% of their 300 plus, executives, the leaders were black.
So on the one hand, you've got an organization that's, you know, calling for systemic change and calling for, you know, racial equality and justice. But on the other hand, when you look within their organization, They're not quite living up to what they're telling an external audience. And I think we're starting to see more and more of that.
So people are really looking at what organizations [00:11:00] are saying externally and thinking, well, hold on a moment. If we look at your, your diversity stats as an organization, The two things don't tally and people I think have been more vocal calling these organizations out there is a really good campaign, called #pulluporshutup.
And that was about beauty brands and basically, The organizer of that campaign was encouraging people to use the hashtag to call out brands, beauty brands. In particular, if you don't actually have representation around black employees and in senior levels asking for people to not just call them out, but actually to boycott those organizations, because again, on the one hand, your, your extolling these virtues externally, well, you know, you're selling products and services to people, but you're not actually doing anything within your own organization. So I think we are all becoming more conscious consumers in that regard. And I think we're starting to see more of a move towards that. And I think in terms of [00:12:00] organizations, I think there's going to be more onus on them to actually behave well, internally and externally, and not only to actually, you know, we see organizations putting forward KPIs around their ESG credentials.
And I think the S part of ESG and the social aspect is begin to become more and more important. And I think racial equality, racial justice will actually, start to feed into that. And I think organizations have to start to address things internally and not just focus on showboating externally.
Daisy Powell-Chandler: I think that's a really important point. And, I'd be really interested in Bolas take on this because obviously the diversity and inclusion team within companies has a really varying level of prestige amd really varying level of voice depending on which organization you're in. Is that something that we're seeing change in now, Bola? Is there more of an acceptance now that this is really important stuff for everyone to be tackling?
[00:13:00] Bola Gibson: Yeah. I mean, I think that's probably, it's probably been growing in importance, I think over the last three to five years and possibly maybe 10 years. Covid has obviously had a huge impact. I think on a lot of companies and company finances and in order to really drive change, you do need to resource it.
And so in some companies you've actually seen them cutting resource around diversity and inclusion. whereas in others they've been investing quite heavily in, in diversity inclusion resources. I do you think that when we look at companies, in some ways we have to have a level of patience. So as a diversity inclusion, professional, and lots of other D&I professionals out there are probably thinking it's not going to change overnight.
And unfortunately, in this day and age, people are relatively impatient. I think about the pace of change, which is why, you know, you look at some companies and some companies I sorta feel sorry for which I don't say very [00:14:00] often, but some companies I'm sort of sorry for, because they want to show solidarity. But they also don't want to rush the judgment and they don't want to rush to action because often if you do, that's when you will make bad decisions at the end of the day. and so I think a lot of companies wanted to be able to say, "Hands up. We've not been doing enough. We'll go away and think about what enough looks like and what better looks like"
but that process, once you get inside the organization, especially I think in those organizations where they don't have the maturity, or they may not have the resources where they don't have the expertise. those organizations that will take much longer for them to figure out what that great looks like, but it's that commitment, I think to thinking about it and to taking action about it, which I think becomes really, really important.
So I think in some ways we've got to fair, on these brands. On the other hand, they're all brands who. As we've already had have been saying, this is [00:15:00] really important to us, we've been doing this for a very long time, but have not been sharing results. And I think what we've got to move from and what this, this movement, and it is a movement and it's only, it's a movement in its infancy, which I think is something else that we've got to recognize.
Yes, it might be a hundred days since George Floyd, but it's been hundreds of years since, for example, slavery. And it will be more, more decades before we get real change. so, so I think what we've got to kind of recognize is that this movement is going to take time and commitment and resource and energy.
And we've got to get those brands, enough time and, and, rope to be able to deliver those brands that delivering, but who say they happen delivering? I have just been focused on actions and I think this is where the big change is going to come. This is what I think black lives matter has really driven is that actions alone are not [00:16:00] enough.
You've got to focus on outcomes and not enough companies have been focusing on outcome. and so no matter how it's action you take, so you can look at gender balance or gender imbalance within organizations. You know, we're talking 10, 15 years ago that the 30% club created and the number of organizations that have signed up to the.
They are still hovering somewhere in the, you know, if they're lucky, they're hovering in the mid twenties and they've been hovering in the mid twenties, but the years, but with no penalty, either with gender pay gap reporting. And I think if anything, black lives matter will push organizations to be accountable now for outcomes over actions.
Daisy Powell-Chandler: There, there is an interesting question here. If you're a corporate that has been feeling pretty daunted by the slightly febrile angry atmosphere that has dominated over the last few months for very understandable reasons. [00:17:00] There is a question of where do you start? Do you start by saying right - we're going to, we're going to give some money.
That gets us some reprieve now. Or do you start by saying, we need to do a whole load of internal work, but we accept that that might not look as good outwardly. Where, where is the right place to start or is it, is it very flexible depending on what kind of organization you are?
Bieneosa Ebite: I think you've always got to start by getting your own house in order.
That's for, for any thing that you do . Start internally. And I think you've got to start off by being honest, as well, honest about the state of play that your company finds it. Being honest about the situation you got. Yeah. Start with data. So internally you've got to start with data. Did your organization actually look like, because I think a lot of organizations actually don't have the data or find it difficult to gather data from their employees. And without that data set, you can't actually pinpoint [00:18:00] where the issues are and what you need to do. So then you've got to start internally. I don't think you should be focused on the external noise outside because that can be, you need to be aware of what's going on, but you shouldn't be focused on projecting outwardly what you're doing. Focus on fixing your house. First, start with data. Start by listening to your employees as well. We're talking about black lives matter. As an organization.: f you're a kind of CEO or a leader, when was the last time you held forums to listen to the thoughts and views of your employees?
Start off by listening. Hearing what they've got to say. I think that's got to come first. And then when you have that data, you've listened to your employees, gather thoughts and ideas from them as well about what it is you can look to do as an organization, but be willing to commit to things, be willing to not just to do things that move the dial very slightly, be willing to challenge yourself so that you can actually make a [00:19:00] tangible difference.
And I think. Once you do that internally, then later on down the track, you can start to think about what you want to do externally, but it's got to start with your internal employees in the first instance, I think,
Daisy Powell-Chandler: And for those brands that do choose to engage outwardly. Do we believe that organizations at the moment have the right skill sets to actually do that?
It seems to me that we're asking a lot of people like social media managers, for example, that they be confident, articulate, and authentic and empathetic in an area that is exceedingly complex, highly emotionally charged, and now very high stakes for their company. Do we have those skills?
Becky Brynolf: It's a very good question.
Well, I can certainly draw on, what we've been kind of looking at in terms of the shelter over the last few months as well. so I'll be frank. The social media team is a team of three white people. And while we are all, [00:20:00] you know, very much on the side of social justice, in all forms, there is a lot of, you know, a lot of things that we currently feel like, are we equipped to talk about this?
Is it, is it our place to talk about this sort of thing? And, being able to. Because the, the, I think the culture shelter now, cause we're doing a lot of work on this internally at the moment and setting up lots of, kind of different groups to tackle this and make sure that there's a massive culture change.
We are now feeling a lot more comfortable to say like, actually I would like to, they speak with someone who is, you know, Good at training corporates in being able to talk about this authentically and confidently online and being able to challenge, stereotypes or opinions that are just plain wrong and all that kind of stuff.
So within Shelter, what we're doing at the moment is we've got, an anti-racism steering group set up. And that aims to be intersectional. so we've got members from our LGBTQ plus group and they were also looking to make sure that we're including people with disabilities, including people with lived experience of homelessness as well.
Because it's not just looking at the makeup [00:21:00] of. Now the demographics of the people who work at shelter, but also the people that we help as well. Race is absolutely a factor in a lot of housing issues. so that's something we need to be looking at more and more. We've got a BAME affinity group as well.
So it's people that says no white people in that group. It's just a safe space for people of color to come together and just talk about the issues that they're facing or just how they're feeling. Because what we've definitely recognized is that, this has been a. Tremendously traumatic few months in a lots of ways.
And I think particularly on the day that a lot of corporates were. Kind of scrambling to appear to do the thing and make those pledges publicly. An inordinate amount of pressure were suddenly being placed on that colleagues to, some in some tokenistic ways, but also to do a lot of teaching, to all their white colleagues as well, which is, placing an undue amount of pressure.
So, once that was recognized as well, made sure that everyone has a space to talk and to be themselves. We also got an allies group set up, which is a group [00:22:00] of, just white colleagues and they are currently working on a day of learning charity-wide that we're gonna be doing next month.B ut the work doesn't end there.
we're also looking at like all areas, the charities for barriers and gaps and opportunities to be an actively anti-racist organization from the way that we hire and our work experience practices right down to how we respond to the racists on social media and how we challenge long held assumptions.
I'm sure everyone on this call and everyone listening has probably seen a definite increase in racism and anti-immigration sentiments on social media recently, and Shelter social media channels are no exception to that. So we are. Well, making sure that way, rather than just hiding and moving on, or like actively confronting those, those assumptions and those negative stereotypes, but it's been, you know, it's not been, a quick and easy solution.
There's been a lot of like, let's no, that's sactually sit down. Take the time and resource and to actually sit down and discuss this. Cause it's not something that we could fix very easily if we, if it could be, we would have done it a long time ago.
Daisy Powell-Chandler: And that sounds like it all feeds [00:23:00] back to Bola's point that this isn't something that we're going to solve overnight. It's been hundreds of years in the making and it will certainly be decades in the unwinding. One of the ways in which companies have gone about creating a quick fix to this social media frenzy at the start was through donations. And that seemed to backfire in some situations, because I don't know about you, but I saw a lot in my feeds of people say "they've given X million, but their profits were Y million".
And it began to feel like no amount was going to be enough for some brands. And I think that brings us to the question of is money ever enough?
Bola Gibson: Well, apart from money makes well go around, I think is what they say. Don't they? I actually think it's, I think some of the criticism that organizations have had about the donations that they've made as a sticking plaster maneuvre are probably legitimate in some cases.
So if you take the [00:24:00] BBC, they've got a programming budget of about. 1.7 billion or something along those lines. and yet they said, well, we're putting a hundred million towards diverse programming and you hear that when you say, well, that's less than 5% of your overall programming budget. Or a Sky who were putting, I think they've mentioned something like 30 million, which, which, again, it sounds like a really big number.
And you might say, well, actually in the grand scheme of things, that's not a lot of money in the grand scheme of sky. If you think about how much they are giving to the premier league, for example, each year. but that, that amount suddenly pales into insignificance. So I do think that there is some valid criticism.
I think that the challenge that we've got is that money is obviously not going to be the entirety of any solution. And a lot of the organizations that are going to be receiving this money while the number doesn't appear large to the naked eye or those of us who are used to bigger numbers. While that number doesn't appear to be very big, it can make a [00:25:00] huge amount of difference to organizations that have been scraping, especially for the last five years.
So Becky will know, those charities have really been struggling with funding. And so although the numbers might look quite paltry, I actually think they could have quite the big impact. So it's a bit of a double edged sword to go for the money play. I think if you're a brand, I don't think it will particularly do as much harm.
If again, if you focus that money on delivering outcomes that you can then talk about, in, in the future. So, yeah, I think it's, it's, it's going to be a difficult decision, I think for brands to make. But I do think it's a relatively safe play. If they can be careful about where that money goes and the kind of impact it has.
Daisy Powell-Chandler: Do you think we, when we come to the end of this year or perhaps when we reach, the anniversary of George Floyd's death next year, do you think we will already be able to say, here are some positive outcomes that have come out of this awful event.
Bieneosa Ebite: Yeah, I definitely think so. I think. [00:26:00] For me, one of the big positives, this is the conversation.
A lot of things used to be particularly in corporate world, used to be kind of things you wouldn't be able to talk about, or you talk about in certain circles, but it wasn't part of mainstream conversation. You could maybe be seen as being. A problem or, you know, people didn't want to address certain things.
So I think that is a positive, the fact that we're talking about things and the fact that people are using phrases such as white privilege, you know, quite comfortably now is the big step. that's a good thing. I think also for me, this, the change that we really want to see is a systemic change, and that will take a long, long time.
And that is about. Winning hearts and minds, and that's never a quick process. you know, I think in a year's time, I wouldn't just want it to be an anniversary and for people's it's one year on and whatever. Well, I, I do want to see more and I think [00:27:00] also. The younger generations you mentioned earlier that, you know, sometimes people are impatient.
I do think younger generations are more so and want to see change, you know, happen in a faster way. I think for me, it's, it's what our organizations, and we can start to talk in a year's time about systemic, what what's happening to dismantle the systemic aspects of racism. that would be a really positive step as well.
But yeah, the fact that we're having this conversation, that it's mainstream is a big step forward.
Daisy Powell-Chandler: And that does definitely seem to be a, a generational shift here. Populus, the polling organization, they run a news tracker where they ask people every week: what news stories have you noticed over the past week?
And it's interesting that black lives matter was one of the few topics to manage to out shine. COVID over the past few months, but there was a huge difference between the 18 to 24 demographic, for example, and 65 [00:28:00] and over, I think twice as many people in the younger demographic mentioning black lives matter than the over 65.
I think that is partly because of the influence of social media, but I also think it shows that this is an issue that really resonates with younger generations who want to see change. And I hope that what we'll see is brands for whom that's a really important consumer group leading this charge and understanding that it's important to that.
Bola Gibson: Yeah. And actually just to follow that up as well, Daisy, PR we did some similar research and they found that something like nearly 60% of, young people between the age of 18 and 34 said that brands should be speaking out on that issue. And I think it was nearly half of the next age range up, which is like 35 to 44 year olds.
And that number only really starts dissipating once you get to the over sixties and seventies, but it doesn't go away. So this is absolutely really important to young people. I think when we look at, when we look back on this next year, [00:29:00] I think, I think a lot of us will still be fighting the good fight as we like to call it.
There has been a lot of talk about whether or not this is a moment. as I think a fated politician may have suggested that it is a moment rather than a movement and they are two very, very different things. I do. I don't think that brands will, get away with going silent. if anything, my suspicion is that probably when we do look back on this a year from now, people will be asking, so what has been achieved?
And that's probably more important than anything else. the, the biggest issue, I think that the black lives matter movement face, cause it is not a 2020 movement. It's a movement that's been going for many years. I think people should recognize that. but what I think that one of the reasons the reckoning this year has been so significant is because people have looked back at you know, four years and gone, what have we achieved with not achieved? We've not achieved anything or we haven't achieved enough. [00:30:00] And so I think when we do you look back next year, more brands will be here accountable. And this is why those external commitments that they have made, even when they were maybe not necessarily ready to meet them in that got their internal house in order, et cetera.
That's when those commitments really come in to their own and become really important. Because if a year from now, all those brands that have made those external commitments, can't talk about the outcomes that they have achieved. No matter how small that's, when I think it becomes quite, they become a legitimate social media fodder.
Daisy Powell-Chandler: Are there any particular organizations that you will be looking for in that movement for talking about outcomes? Are there people who've done really well in this, in this moment of the movement? Are there organizations that have managed to make hay whilst the sun shone, make good commitments [00:31:00] that have come across well publically, but who you're really hoping you'll see some evidence from in a year's time?
Bola Gibson: So I think one of the organizations, which we don't really talk about very often, but it's one that is quite, important to me is, SpaceNK. Really fascinating organization, you know, that there are high street store, beauty cosmetics. And one of the things that they recently said is that they are, going to only be featuring brands or we'll know, not feature brands that do not cater to diverse skin tone. Now you might look at a commitment like that. Wow. That's, that's quite a bit commitment. You know, I can imagine half of their suppliers are busy, scrambling around going, Whoa, how do we do this? Those kinds of commitments are the ones I think lead to more systemic change and can push, I think some of that, some of their competitors as well.
So I'll be really interested to see. What that does to the beauty markets in particular and what I would call [00:32:00] what's been called the mainstream beauty market read into that, what you will, but ultimately what it, what it does to that, that particular market. I'm also interested in some of the big sports wear brands, actually - the ones that have been vocal about this many years. So we've talked about Nike. Adidas is also quite interesting because obviously. I don't know if many people have followed the story of one of their employees who for many years have been trying to get the organization to, to make change internally because she felt that they were quite a few systemic issues around race.
And then obviously with black lives matter, they came out with a big commitment. and she effectively started protesting her own organization. and so it will be again interesting, I think to see in the future, whether or not these organizations have, have grappled with that internal/external, kind of challenge that you talked about, which, which comes first, and which do you do better and how the two interact with each other?
So I [00:33:00] think the jury's out in terms of who's done well, who's done not so well. and it will be interesting to see in a year. I'm trying not to rush the judgment.
Becky Brynolf: Obviously I've got a vested interest in this area, but I'm particularly interested to see, what the charity sector looks like in a year's time with regards to this. The charity sector in general has had an issue with diversity, for a long time. I'm don't know if any of you follow the charity so white, organization and , and like I mentioned, you know, funding has decreased across the charity sector and. As well, you know, a lot of the, people that charities do you tend to reach out for, for longterm funding and individual giving are people who are over 45, usually living in the home counties, white.
But we do, you know, We need to diversify who we talk to, how we talk to them and not just in terms of looking at getting funding, because we need money to be able to fight the social issues, but also just to, no longer just say, well, [00:34:00] racism is a bad thing. We all agree that, but actually to properly demonstrate that we are all actively anti-racist organizations that we all recognize that race plays an issue across the board in a lot of the issues that we're trying to fight. So housing and healthcare and so on. So not just focusing on fundraising, but also supporting yeah. Looking at, how we can just galvanize a generation of campaigners and supporters.
So, things that don't necessarily need money to make things run, but things, people speak truth to power and say like, no, look, you can't just address this. You have to address race at the heart of it as well. And not only that, but looking at how charities who are service providers as well, who, you know, to help people on a frontline level, how they use, data on people that the helped to improve the way that they provide services. So, you know, which charities are actually looking at, you know, gathering data on the race of the people that they help. And then using that to finesse and to improve the way that we're doing things and justify our position [00:35:00] in the sector and justify why people should be supporting us in the first place.
I think that be really interesting to see. How people are charged sets of books in his time.
Bieneosa Ebite: For me, I'm quite interested in the structures that govern us as citizens. So I think if we look at, for example, the government and their leveling up agenda, I'd be quite interested to see what part racial equality and racial justice are playing in how they're developing policy for all of us. and actually leveling up as a company is a good one, but who does it include? Does it include everybody? So I'd be quite interested to see where that goes. Also, I think the police force actually, is another one. I mean, there's lots of new stories about various incidents that have happened recently. you would have heard about the incident with Ron Butler and also, you know, senior police officer at all recently, a senior about police officer.
[00:36:00] And I think we can't get away from the fact that there are issues within the police itself and actually, I think there's a big job to be done there. And I know this is, this has been going on since the MacPherson reports. So this is a longstanding issue with systemic racism in the police will, but how is that actually going to be addressed going forward?
I think that's really important. And then finally, just looking back to, Kind of how we are recovering or going to recover as an economy post COVID. And there's lots of talk about building back better and we talk about things like climate change and various other things that we're looking towards as part of that economic recovery.
Again, when people talk about building that better, does that includeaacial equality and racial justice? I think all these are all the sorts of things that we need to look at in a holistic manner, because they ultimately are part of the structures and systems that we need to change to ensure that there is [00:37:00] racial equality and racial justice.
So I think it's really important to look at these civil aspects as well.
Bola Gibson: And I think one of the things that we've probably not spoken that much about, but which I think will have a huge impact, on a lot of big businesses and brands is, ethnicity pay. You got reporting, which was, was in, was in discussion, I think quite, quite significantly. I mean, the discussion had progressed quite significantly prior to COVID-19 and lock down.
There are a lot of businesses who have started that process of data gathering. but similarly, I think a lot of businesses now will be accelerating, their, their approach to ethnicity pay gap reporting. It calls into question lots of things, such as what ethnicities do you have within your organization?
Are some more prominent than others? How do people move in, move through the organization? How much senior representation do you [00:38:00] have in the organization? If businesses are going to take, black lives matter movement and, ethnic minority diversity, seriously, then they are going to have to look at their, their pay gap and what it tells them.
And off the back of that develop those action plans. And the reason I think it becomes important for brands is that a lot of the larger brands with lots of employees will have to start reporting this externally. And that will have an impact, I think, in quite a significant impact on their reputation in the marketplace when they're looking for talent.
Daisy Powell-Chandler: What I'd love to get from each of you as we wrap up is one final piece of advice that we could give to the reputation professionals, listening to this. A piece of advice that they could implement, perhaps starting today, but perhaps as part of a conversation over the next few months, what is the one thing they should take away from this conversation?
Becky Brynolf: I would say, give it the time and space that it deserves. This can't just [00:39:00] be a piece of work that you do when you have the time to do it. You need senior buy-in to allow you the room and your line managers need to be aware that this is a piece of work, just as important as any other piece of work that you're doing and your organization.
Bieneosa Ebite: I think for me, this is very much a reputation driver. and I think for corporate affairs professionals, it's to keep on having the conversation, but to ensure that the conversation actually reaches the boardroom, I think that's key.
Bola Gibson: So my one piece of advice would be to not think about this as a PR issue, I think is the first thing. This is about the overall strategy of the business. You need to be really clear as an organization about articulating what it is you are trying to achieve in the long run and over what period of time and how the things that you [00:40:00] do, whether that's focusing internally or externally feed up towards achieving that, that single clear aim.
Daisy Powell-Chandler: That's everything from us. A big thank you to my guests:
• Bieneosa Ebite from the podcast News Bants
• Becky Brynolf from Shelter, and
• Bola Gibson from Osborne Clarke
We could most certainly have kept talking for hours but this conversation was a great way of bringing together some of the most relevant strands of debate and understanding better how they affect corporate reputation.
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