Unless you’ve been shutting yourself in, both virtually and physically, you’ve probably sensed a change in the air. The murder of George Floyd sparked a widespread reaction in the States of which we are still seeing the effects. Whether people had just had enough, coupled with months of isolation, many long overdue conversations are now happening and bringing to light some very real, but sometimes hidden, inequalities.
The term “BIPOC” refers to people who are black, indigenous, or people of colour. Those who fit this description, likely have experienced racism at some point, whether blatantly or in a “mild” form. There’s plenty of ways to understand this problem more now – loads of resources are out there for those who wish to educate themselves and confront the elephant in the room. This column isn’t really here to comment on culture or society – but there are certainly lessons that can be carried into the business world.
There are many ways that racism and/or stereotypes could be negatively affecting your business. It could be unconscious mistreatment of customers by your service staff. It could be a website that is not accessible by people with physical disabilities. It could be a workplace culture that promotes and celebrates behaviour that is more common in one gender than another. None of these acts are done with malicious intent; rather it is a system that has been set up previously and we tend to just follow what has been laid before us, not seeing the damage or missed opportunities these acts represent.
Some companies have decided very consciously, and not without great effort, to buck the trend. Some do “blind hiring” by removing names from resumes or disguising voices during phone interviews to remove interviewer bias. Microsoft recently redesigned Xbox controls to make the movements and actions more accessible to the physically impaired population. Ultimately these seemingly “social” decisions comes with a cost, and no directly measureable ROI (return on investment).
However, it seems fairly obvious that when you have representation in your staff of your actual customers, and make your product or service more approachable, how can you not win in your space? And in a small city like ours, with an expanding population bringing in new, diverse ways of thinking, the stage is ripe for change. Tip: Like any new challenge: if the more you learn the more it makes you uncomfortable, you are probably doing it right.
BYLINE: Amanda DeVries owns Amanda DeVries Content + Creative. Her website is amandadevries.com and you can find her on Twitter as @adevriescreativ and Instagram as @adevriescreative.