As we head into the last few weeks of 2022, our Head of Development Rudaba Osmani-Edwards has written a piece explaining the importance and benefit of being a corporate ally all year round and what else corporates can do to ensure that they are showing true allyship with the Black community.
Each October, the UK celebrates Black History Month where we all have a chance to learn more about the achievements of Black people in the UK and celebrate the change that has happened – as well as provide a ‘moment’ to consider what else has to happen, to address the racism that sadly the Black British community still faces.
However, as a colleague of mine recently said, “I’m Black all year round.” This simple statement encapsulates the work that BEO wants to do – especially in conjunction with allies across the UK.
Since we have launched, we have been grateful for the interest and support we have received from companies but as we end another year where we’ve seen Black people die during interactions with police, heard reports of systemic racism in our emergency services and the health treatment of Black individuals, as well as had statistics that prove the disproportionate impact of the cost-of-living crisis on Black households – it is time for allies to not just celebrate Black History for a single month a year, but do more all year round.
So what else can companies do in the long term to affect real change in racial equality within their organisations, in the communities around them and across the UK?
Research by global management consultancy, McKinsey, has highlighted that placing diversity and racial equity at the heart of an organisation’s strategy improves business performance as well as the experiences and prospects for Black employees. BEO commends companies that publicly taking a stand against racism, through participation in initiatives like the Race at Work Charter but there’s more to be done. Below are some tangible ways that companies can take action to eradicate racism from within and across society in the long term.
In BEO’s recently launched State of Black Britain Report, over 60% of Black respondents said they had been passed over for promotion or employment due to their ethnicity. We know that there are few Black leaders on Boards across most industries. It is not enough to recruit Black and minority ethnic employees into organisations; Black employees need seats at top tables where decisions are made, in order that Black communities’ voices can be heard and translated into practice.
BEO wants to improve access for Black businesses into corporate supply chains. This will enable a ripple effect of economic growth in Black communities and their wealth creation in the long-run. Find out about our Future 100 Growth Fund, a partnership with Sky Group, which tackles this issue.
Diversity in communications and media:
This has been a hot topic for a number of years now but now is the time to scrutinise how diverse your organisation’s internal and external communications channels are. Are the subjects, people and stories representative of Black communities? If not, it is high time for positive, inclusive changes to be made.
Companies and their staff can get involved with community organisations in a number of ways. A Payroll Giving system can be set up at organisations where staff pay a small percentage of their salary to a specific charity; funding can be allocated for a specific piece of work that aligns with a company’s strategic objectives and that of a Black-led charity’s; collaborative programmes can be delivered between a company and a Black-led charity through a Charity of the Year partnership; staff can volunteer at a local, Black-led charity.
In brief, there are many ways in which organisations and individuals can make racial equity for Black people a priority – not just during Black History Month, but always, until we get to a day when systemic racism can become a thing of the past. That is a part of BEO’s vision for the future.
If you are interested in exploring ways in which BEO could work with you, do get in touch. We are always interested in new collaborations.