Since the summer of 2020, and more recently with the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, diversity, equity, and inclusion have gained renewed focus–there are even glimmers of authentic change in some pockets. But there’s no longer any doubt that organizations must act to accelerate anti-racist progress. Many brands send emails and post social media graphics that are supportive but, on their own, marketing exercises are simply superficial acts of allyship. Writing checks is always appreciated but can distance us from engaging with the real, sustained work of personal growth and committing to a lifelong journey of inclusion.
“Not a single brand would stand up and say ‘we’ve nailed it, we have a perfectly inclusive culture, we’re sustainable, our supply chain is perfect,” says Magnet Media CEO and founder Megan Cunningham.
So, what is the most impactful action we as coworkers, employers, and mentors can do to create consequential change, personally and professionally?
Turns out there are many ways to participate in Juneteeth, no matter who you are. Below is a list of 19 things leaders can do to mark this moment and make a difference.
While it may be new to some, Juneteenth has been celebrated since 1865. Whether reuniting with family or supporting a Black-owned businesses, be sure to commemorate it. Here’s more inspiration for your celebration.
If you’re a leader, why not ask your team to step away from work to get involved? Or even provide them with the resources they need to increase their own personal awareness and understanding of potential biases?
A great way to break your implicit bias patterns is to realize our country’s history of racial injustice. These TED Talks and resources from Smithsonian Magazine help us understand the forms of racism in America.
Educate yourself to become actively anti-racist; read about different perspectives, backgrounds, and cultures; ask questions. One way to do this is to follow publications that regularly feature Black stories and Black voices. Here are a few amazing sources we recommend:
5 Tune in
Who doesn’t love a good podcast? We polled our team, and here are some of our top picks for shows that discuss race and the Black experience.
These films and shorts are worth viewing any time but especially for Juneteenth:
Learning and unlearning starts at home. Pass knowledge on to the next generation by educating the kids in your life with these children’s books.
Support Black communities and the Black Lives Matter movement by donating to these amazing organizations:
Hiring diverse, creative storytellers from all over the world has been a priority for us for over 20 years. Here are a few resources to help you diversify your team:
Be one. We’re mentoring startup founders from diverse backgrounds through the TechStars Mentorship Program. Mentoring provides professional support to facilitate the future success for others. It’s also been a historically biased system, where the privileged have access to generational networks to find mentors and those who are not cannot find appropriate advisors.
Providing support does not require tremendous time or money. It requires thoughtfulness and bravery to stand up for your colleagues. Be an active bystander and help build up peers of color.
If you’re a storyteller, include Black voices in your stories. If you speak on panels, make room at the table for Black people and people of color. If you create content, pay Black creators to make posts on racial injustice, racism, diversity, and inclusion, then give them credit and promote their work.
Support Black businesses. Find them on WeBuyBlack, The Black Wallet, and Official Black Wall Street. Another great list is here.
If you’re an investor, follow in the footsteps of these funds and individuals by being intentional and public about your investments:
Start making investments in Black talent at your workplace and find ways to help employees of color succeed in environments where they may not be well represented. Here’s Monne Williams and Bryan Hancock of McKinsey on why sponsorship is key to helping Black employees advance.
Elected officials need reminders that racism is an ongoing issue, so (safely) take to the streets to join your community in supporting equity movements, call your local leaders about discriminatory legislation, and sign petitions like these on Change.org to lend support to activists.
Each organization must approach these conversations in the workplace respectfully and consciously. Here are tips for protecting minority employees during conversations on race. For further reading, check out the Harvard Business Review’s reading list for confronting racism at work.
Whatever you do for Juneteenth, don’t let it be short term. Find ways to continue to engage with and honor Black culture, like this list of 21 Best Books by Black Authors You Should Read in Your Lifetime, curated by Oprah Magazine.
Listening to listen rather than listening to respond is essential in all meaningful dialogues. One way to prepare and ensure that these conversations will be productive is to have them led by an outside professional. Facilitators we’ve heard share practical insights for handling "tough" topics are: Laura Mignott, Nicole Smart, and Piper Anderson.
The effort to combat racist thinking is lifelong and sometimes arduous, but any desire for change is already commendable. Just don’t forget that Juneteenth is a joyous occasion. Be sure to celebrate it.