Creating a Black Lives Matter Statement for Your Business
Why and how your business can speak up about social justice.
This post was written in collaboration with our Content Specialist, Emma Crowe-Fleming. It is a follow up to our company statement on social justice.
After the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, waves of protest against police brutality and systemic racism have erupted across the country and the world. As a company, we understand that speaking on this issue can present a challenge, especially for those of us who have benefitted from the systemic racism that has renewed this civil rights movement. However, as a values-based company, we believe in standing up for what is right and would like to encourage other businesses to take action as well.
We are standing with the Black community because we believe that Black Lives Matter.Read our full statement and our action steps here.
As a branding and marketing company, we’re in the unique position of being able to guide others as they are crafting the messaging for their own company and we have long advocated that clients consider their larger impact on the world beyond simply benefitting shareholders.
The purpose of this blog post is to:
- further our goal of encouraging business owners to thoughtfully consider how they can use their business website and social media platforms to support social justice, and
- to provide resources to companies seeking to communicate a public stance in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
What It Means to Be A Values-Based Company
Road Warrior Creative is driven by core values – statements I drafted with Chris at the time of founding our company and which are referenced when making important decisions that impact all stakeholders in our business – whether owners, employees, clients, or community members.
These are our current company values:
- We believe that quality of life matters.
- We believe in growing relationships, not transactions.
- We believe in giving back to our communities.
- We believe that sharing knowledge builds loyalty.
- We believe the 9-5 is dead.
- We believe “someday” is not a day of the week.
Chris and I are firmly committed to building a company that creates a positive impact on the community at large, and all of us here at Road Warrior Creative strive to create positive change in the world through our work. Road Warrior Creative is about so much more than company profits or getting people to make purchases from our clients.
Having larger social impact is so important to us that we’re currently in the process of becoming a certified B Corporation.
Your Company Values Can’t Just Be Statements on Paper
Though we’re a marketing agency, it’s really important to note that having company values are NOT just for good PR. We’re not advocating you become a values-based organization for marketing purposes (though studies have shown that consumers are increasingly making purchase decisions based on values – 2/3 of consumers as of a late 2018 Edelman study.)
Company values should help your business achieve the goal of making the world a better place. You should not make social justice statements or draft company values if you’re not prepared to adjust how you do business in order to live up to those statements.You should not make social justice statements or draft company values if you're not prepared to adjust how you do business in order to live up to those statements. Click To Tweet
Road Warrior Creative’s company values shape everything we do as a company. Here are just a few examples of how we live our values:
- We improve our team’s quality of life by allowing them to work remotely, wherever they want on flexible schedules.
- Whether big or small, we consider each project to be the beginning of an ongoing partnership, and strive to build a positive relationship with each person (clients and team members) involved.
- We offering employees two paid days off for volunteering each year.
- We provide discounts to 501(c)(3) nonprofits, and run an annual Free Nonprofit Website Contest.
- We have a written accessibility statement and a commitment to significantly improving accessibility on the web.
When you consider moving to a values-based approach, you will need to take stock of what’s important to you and your company’s shareholders, and then consider how you’ll be able to proactively take actions in your business to fulfill those values.
If you haven’t previously taken a values-based approach to your company, this may take time, but even making small incremental steps can make all the difference in the world.
Why Your Business Needs to Make A Statement in Support of Black Lives Matter
Last week we had a client ask us for guidance on how their business might choose which values are right to speak up about. As a business owner, it may feel overwhelming knowing when to speak up and when to stay silent.
Our advice to that client was to consider if the issue seems relevant or related to their business model – for example, food product companies frequently take stances on issues related to the environment or hunger; clothing stores might have a statment on child labor. But when it comes to the systemic racism in America experienced by our Black and Brown brothers and sisters, it is relevant to every business.
This is especially true for brands that borrow heavily from black culture and target black consumers or capitalize off Black culture, emphasized Jackie Aina, an influencer with more than three million subscribers on YouTube, in a recent New York Times interview. Adidas echoed this responsibility as a brand that frequently works with Black athletes:
For most of you, this message is too little, too late. We’ve celebrated athletes and artists in the Black community and used their image to define ourselves culturally as a brand, but missed the message in reflecting such little representation within our walls. It’s time to own up to our silence: Black Lives Matter.Adidas Statement in Support of Black Lives Matter
Racism in America is relevant to your business, no matter what industry you’re in or how big or small your business is.If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. – Desmond Tutu #BlackLivesMatter Click To Tweet
Unless you are a minority business owner, your business (just like our business) has likely benefited from white privilege. Additionally, you likely have Black customers and, possibly, Black employees. You post jobs, you market products and services, you operate in communities with people of color.
Your business impacts Black people, whether you take a stand or not, and not speaking out allows injustices to continue.
Desmond Tutu, a South African bishop has a quote that we have seen widely in the last two weeks and which we feel aptly describes why “neutrality” or silence is no longer acceptable from individuals or businesses. He said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
The more people and organizations speak up about the very real problem of racism in America and create a plan for changing anything they can control, the more likely we’re able to move forward as a nation towards true progress. Be the change you want to see in the world.
Take it from Nike. Now is not the time to stay silent.
Your company should make a Black Lives Matter statement because it is the right thing to do.
Note: A statement that acknowledges the issues of racism and police brutality is not a form of marketing or joining a “trend.” We’re not advocating that you write a statement to get more customers. This is a matter of ethics, not marketing.
Your company’s #BlackLivesMatter statement should be an authentically created form of support and understanding for members of the Black community who have been oppressed, who have experienced prejudice, and who have been killed as a result of systemic and inherent racism. It should state in no uncertain terms real ways your company is going to contribute to change.
You need to “walk the walk” of political corporate social responsibility.
Your Company Can Make A Difference
Our society’s most challenging problems, like deeply ingrained systemic racism, cannot be solved by individuals and nonprofits, or even the government, alone.
Companies often have much greater reach than do individuals and can amplify messages far further. Companies can choose to use their profits and growth for a greater purpose and have the ability to reduce inequality, lower levels of poverty, and build stronger communities through the creation of more high-quality jobs that are available to all people, regardless of the color of their skin.
When you decide to show that your business is taking a stand in support of Black Lives Matter, you are showing that you realize that an unfair system exists, and maybe even that you have benefitted from it or contributed to it.
A Black Lives Matter statement shows that human rights are a part of your business’s core values and that those values are driving you to do your part to fight against this system within your company and community. Following up on this statement with meaningful changes within your business is just one piece of the puzzle in righting injustices against Black Americans.
Example Business Statements Supporting #BlackLivesMatter
While statements vary between companies, institutions, and organizations, there are some examples that we feel have drawn attention to the real injustices that have allowed racism to stand, and made a clear and concise stance in support of the Black Lives Matter movement while also explaining what the organization is going to do to enact change.
The list below includes 18 example statements from companies and institutions that may help your business to create your own Black Lives Matter statement. This is a selection of statements from both enterprise businesses and small businesses, because even the smallest business can have impact here.
We hope these statements will help you to plan actionable changes in your organization that will allow you to better support equality for Black people within your company and community.
How To Share Social Justice Statements on Your Website
Not sure how to communicate statements in support of Black Americans? Your statement doesn’t have to be fancy. Posted as a blog post is easy and great, then all you need to do is link to the statement from your home page or highlight with a banner throughout the site.
Here are a few examples of how companies have incorporated these statements into their website.
Adidas has completely removed all other content from their home page to show the importance of their commitment to take action:
AirBnB has a large black banner with a call to action and link to donate to Black Lives Matter that shows up above all of the rental listings on their website.
Rifle Paper Co. has created a product from which 100% of sales will go to the Equal Justice Initiative. This can easily be achieved with a WooCommerce e-commerce store.
Enlightend Ice Cream placed a small but brightly colored banner at the top of every page on their website.
Etsy found a way to feature Black artists and creators on their website.
Example Social Media Statements
If your company focuses on social media rather than email lists or blog posts, it is still possible to come up with a plan for change and make a statement. Whether your business is big or small, posting on social media will amplify your message of support – but make sure that you’re committing to action over “hashtag activism” or you risk the wrath of the internet.
Here are some example social media posts from businesses on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
To the black community:— Reebok (@Reebok) May 30, 2020
We see you.
We stand in solidarity with you.
This can no longer be the status quo. pic.twitter.com/LpE7HHp3qU
View this post on Instagram
We have stayed silent for too long. There is systemic racism haunting the communities we love. We felt as though an Instagram post without action couldn’t meaningfully address this systemic problem – but we realize that an issue this entrenched must be named, and we must speak up. This has been a humbling process for us. As a business and as an industry we haven’t always gotten it right, and have a long way to go. We are committed to taking action to change, no matter how long it takes. Racism, injustice and violence need to stop. We stand in solidarity with black lives in communities around the world. We marvel at the strength of joining together to confront injustice, and will use our voice to seek justice where we live, work, and play. We promote the positive power of humans to be problems solvers. We will educate whenever and wherever we can. We commit to ensuring that every single human feels at home in everything we do. The outdoors is for everyone. This world is for everyone. We cannot stop until every person is welcomed equally. #BlackLivesMatter
Want To Learn More About Values-Based Company Culture?
If you want to learn more about how we operate as a values-based company, get in touch with us! We’d love to share our story with you and help you understand how you can shift your company culture to center around your core values.
If you’re thinking about using your company to create a greater good in the world. We highly recommend that you look into becoming a Certified B Corporation. Join over 3,350 companies in 150 industries in a commitment to using business as a force for good. You can learn more about what this entails at https://bcorporation.net/.