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Rhetoric to Action: How Corporations Can Dismantle Structural Racism

On September 16, 2020, Pyxera Global hosted the first of several conversations as part of the Rhetoric to Action webinar series. The series intends to bring leaders from across-sectors to discuss meaningful actions that can dismantle structural racism.

In the last few months, we have heard from many corporations about their intention to move the needle on racial justice. However, as rhetoric begins to fade and announcements of bold moves slow down, it is critical to ensure that all of the promises made be fulfilled. We have come to a critical juncture in which it is necessary for corporations to pivot from simply issuing statements, toward action. Ultimately, we must ask: What’s next?

Considering this unique moment in time, Pyxera Global hosted the first of several conversations as part of the Rhetoric to Action webinar series. Marcus Allen, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region, and Renay Loper, former Vice President of Program Innovation at Pyxera Global, led a conversation discussing the major developments in the private sector in response to calls for racial injustice and how corporations can take actionable steps to dismantle the system of structural racism. During the conversation, Renay and Marcus acknowledged the many commitments corporations have made and highlighted some of the immediate efforts which include the sudden surge in marketing campaigns showcasing images representing solidarity, increased visibility of black and brown faces across media, and the widespread recognition of Juneteenth.

While companies who broke their silence should be praised for the risk involved in partaking in activism, there is more work to be done. In fact, 92 percent of webinar attendees stated that their organization has made a commitment to racial justice, and of those, 19 percent responded that their organization has not made movement toward that commitment. Only a small portion of companies have taken visible action and have been transparent in their approach to dismantling structural racism. As the visible moves dissipate, Renay and Marcus emphasized that corporations cannot stop now. Marcus invited companies to do more and be not only allies but also co-conspirators, with an intentional strategy and plan for action.

The following are ten actionable steps companies can take to make good on their promises and dismantle structural racism:

  • Build relationships and trust with communities your company wants to connect with; it is critical to achieving lasting change.
  • Take on structural racism as if it is your own problem, because it is.
  • Critically assess your talent pipeline and recruitment methods; make adjustments where needed.
  • Do not tokenize Black leaders and rely on metrics alone; value them and ensure efforts are made to understand their perspectives.
  • Pay attention to language within the workplace and understand how some words might be rooted in racism or a manifestation of unconscious biases.
  • Do the work to educate yourselves proactively and intentionally.
  • Invest in Black-owned businesses by providing access to capital, mentorship, role models, and building out spaces to fail. Corporations must be diligent in addressing the broken system that causes many Black-owned businesses to fail.
  • Consider utilizing unused corporate stock to invest in Black-owned businesses and the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
  • Invest resources in Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
  • Consider how your company is showing up to Black employees. Ensure Black employees have a space to be heard and bring their whole selves to work.

We encourage you to view the webinar recording and share the Rhetoric to Action series with your colleagues and peers.