Restaurateurs across the US are showing solidarity with protesters decrying police brutality by giving employees time off to attend marches, donating to organizations that advance racial equality and posting supportive messages on social media. San Francisco's Flour + Water Pizzeria announced it would postpone its opening today to honor the George Floyd Solidarity Protest and that it would donate to a local violence prevention group, while owner Tarik Fallous of New York City's Au Za'atar is contributing a portion of his eatery's takeout proceeds to a fund established for George Floyd's family.
Wieden+Kennedy New York's 60-second social spot, "One Of Us," for McDonald's features black and red copy on a golden background that names seven black Americans who died in police custody, including George Floyd. The ad reads, "They were all one of us," ending by saying "Black lives matter" on a black background, and the brand announced a $1 million donation to the National Urban League and the NAACP.
Black professionals are navigating difficult waters of their personal and workplace identities during the protests about police brutality. Sometimes nonblack colleagues expect them to serve as educators during such moments, but such expectations can add to the emotional burden, some black professionals say.
Cheikh Mboup, president of Atlanta-based Edible Brands, said his company will put aside an "unwritten rule" and encourage employees to talk about race and racism in the office as a path to greater understanding and change. He advises other companies to do the same, without blaming or scapegoating, in an effort to improve things for the next generation.
Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, both professionals in the music industry, were moved to launch Blackout Tuesday, a movement that prompted the alliance of several big corporations such as Spotify, Apple Music and Interscope Geffen A&M to pause business as usual and acknowledge the racial inequalities and injustices throughout the country. "To that end, it is the obligation of these entities to protect and empower the Black communities that have made them disproportionately wealthy in ways that are measurable and transparent," the initiative's website went on to proclaim.
An anonymous black media buyer talks about what agencies and brands should be doing to make a difference for Black Lives Matter and advertising's diversity problem. "If you run an agency, whether it's five people or 500 people, at least 5% of your organization should be black -- 13% of the US population is black -- if that's not the case, you need to first fix that," the buyer says.
Nationwide protests against police brutality and a public conversation about systemic racism have put the onus on HR leaders to be clear about their commitment to inclusion and diversity, and to engage with employees about issues of equity, writes Lauren Romansky, founder of the Gartner Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council. HR leaders need to demonstrate empathy, proactive allyship and long-term action, Romansky notes.
One-on-one conversations are not optional, especially during a time of remote work, writes John Keyser. "If we lead with empathy and a welcoming tone of voice and are genuine, letting a person know we care about them and their wellbeing, it will be well-received, even if it's a short call," he writes.
Practice "attention, presence, and availability" with employees who are suffering in the days since the killing of George Floyd, and find ways to take care of yourself, too, writes Kevin Eikenberry. Separately, NOBL offers a list of resources for leaders to develop "a more equitable and anti-racist workplace."
Police brutality against black people is not new, and government leaders need to take action toward accountability that protects against such acts, while society challenges racism, writes V. DuWayne Battle of the Rutgers University School of Social Work. "All aspects of racism must be eliminated so, as a nation, we each can finally breathe," Battle writes.
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