To be an anti-racist company is to acknowledge the permanence of racism through organisations, industries and communities, and to recognise it as a system of unequal opportunity and punishment based on skin colour.
The system isn’t always obvious. It can conceal itself in policies, procedures, unspoken corporate culture and routines that move people into different paths of opportunity, where white people have greater access and Black people have less, due to race.
An anti-racist organisation will acknowledge systemic racism within the workplace, from individual workers to C-suite leaders, as well as the ways wealth inequality in society may impact their bottom line though their consumer base. Anti-racist leaders take such evaluations and examine where in the work experience they can actively make existing systems of oppression equitable by opening up paths of opportunity to workers who previously didn’t have access to them.
Therefore an anti-racist response requires everyday focus from within corporates and personal responsibility from individuals. It requires embedding into our lives so that our perceptions change, and social and workplace interactions become equitable.
But such systemic change will only happen when all parts of the system change with it. This is a description of real change rather than tokenism, beyond press releases, donations to charities and the revision of diversity policies. Yes, these are appropriate actions and should be on a company’s radar, however achieving racial equity in the workplace requires more. It requires evaluation of an organisation’s culture, focusing where racism is embedded within.
One that addresses everything from the structural and social systems of a corporate to the role the company plays within the economy. It requires action to be well planned, strategic, sustainable and taken seriously.
Disrupting white corporate supremacy will require deep listening, learning and action. The commitment to being for something rather than telling people about what the company is against: for white leaders to become comfortable with their discomfort and be accountable for change.