Use your Mid-Year Review to take a stand for inclusivity

There is no doubt in my mind that #blacklivesmatter.

What we are seeing in the media is overwhelming in its scope and depth. While there is so much unity and goodness out there with people risking their lives for each other and protesting peacefully, the fact that the extreme violence against our black brothers and sisters has been going on for so long and in so many insidious ways around the world, is soul-destroying. It shouldn’t have taken another video in the USA by a private citizen of a horrible torturous death of another black man, to unite us against violence against black people in our countries. I hate the violence and yet I’m glad for the in-my-face reporting and online conversations because it is forcing all of us to reconsider our beliefs, principles, actions and we can’t ignore what people are going through when it is so clearly documented.

Those of my readers who are business people, its mid-year review time. I urge you to take up the immediate challenge to review your business practices to increase inclusivity and eliminate racist bias.

We need to change our hiring practices, our assessments of client credit-worthiness, re-evaluate our suppliers, assess our team work cultures, change our “jokes”, question our inner thoughts, check our attitudes and behaviours before we speak and act, and create tools that are as ethnically neutral as possible, except where those tools can reverse past racist practices.

We can write to our business associations to pressure our governments to revise immigration policies, international finance policies, and internal policies that benefit white-led businesses at the expense of other ethnicities.

Are you a venture capitalist? Do you have an internal bias that favours white-led businesses in your decision making process? Let’s serve all people equally regardless of skin tone, ability, intelligence, gender identity or economic status. 

Want to expand your business income? Use your mid-year review to check if you are excluding people from your client base inadvertently through your forms, policies, supplier arrangements, client service rules and other business practices that are discriminatory!

As you do your review if you need help making corrections to your website content in order to be more inclusive, or want to talk about your marketing and business practices in relation to this topic, please go ahead a book an appointment with Teresa.

For my business and my personal life, I promise you that I will keep trying and I will stand up for equality. I am committed to using what little influence I have in my spheres to represent where/when I can. For example, I’ve reviewed my Terms and Conditions to make sure that it was explicit that I will not work on or host websites that contain racist or violent language.

The personal is political and #blacklivesmatter. I hope that all of us will advocate to our politicians and business leaders to effect change here in Canada and wherever we find ourselves living in the world. This work belongs to us all. I want to stand up against racism together so we can be brought closer together. And let’s use this moment in time to fight for the eradication of racism and the elevation of equality. To take action instead of being silent.

The rest of this post is about me and my personal perspective on these issues if you’d care to read on.

I am a white woman who has grown up in Canada. I have been privileged and coddled in ways that I never knew, and still don’t catch onto.  Since I began working on recognizing my white privileged life compared to my brothers and sisters of the world, I have tried to stand up for fairness and equality of all peoples. Sometimes I’ve messed up or been blind to the effects of my privilege. I promise I will keep trying to be a better sister to you. I have a lot more listening to do that is for sure.

I have a beautiful child who is black and I’m so grateful we live in Western Canada because while I know he faces prejudice, so far he tells me his experience hasn’t been anywhere near as extreme as what we see happening in USA. I’m grateful for that and hope that he never experiences violence and discrimination on those levels.

And there is systemic racism in Canada. Don’t doubt it. Black people in Canada, and people of other “non-white” ethnic origins, are targeted, discriminated against and experience violence and micro-aggressions day in and day out. Our aboriginal peoples are still fighting against white colonization and to assert their inherent rights. #indigenous peoples of Canada are experiencing daily the violence we see happening against black people in the USA. If you didn’t know these things about Canada, please do some learning and some listening. And if you are a white Canadian, I challenge you to really think about what multi-culturalism means and if you are manifesting it as ‘silent racism‘ – do your words and actions align with your professed Canadian identity of tolerance and acceptance?

I’ve never liked the terms “race” and “racism” because to me it seems that by using them we are using the terminology of the white colonizers who set up this messed up system of privileging people with pale skin tones (ie white). We are all human beings and to refer to the variations in our skin as a race division to me sounds so offensive, and unscientific. However, if using the term racism allows us to reject systemic prejudice and oppression and violence and hatred and death, then I will use it and take conscious ownership of all its meaning when I use it. 

In addition, I have a multi-ethnic family and have always felt so blessed and fortunate for being part of a family that expands across heritages and backgrounds – and I include my friends as part of my family. I know their experiences have been challenging at times and I hate the feeling of helplessness that their world can sometimes be so different than mine.  I do hope they know that I am standing with them and am always here to listen and support them where/when I am able. I don’t want to perpetuate white privilege and I want their truths to lead, not mine.

When we recognize that #blacklives matter, then the statement “all lives matter” will actually hold meaning. Likewise, when we in Canada, and around the world, address the wrongs against our Indigenous brothers and sisters, then the statement “all lives matter” will mean something. Until then, I urge everyone to recognize that

Note: I am not allowing comments on this post because I have no time for trolls and will not give them a platform to spew hatred. If you want to offer some constructive suggestions to other business people, you may email me your thoughts of course. I promise to respond to positive and constructive suggestions about increasing inclusivity in client acquisition, client retention and business practices. I will delete anything that is not constructive.

(This article was previously published at Online Web Admin, which is now Mindset Marketing Services)

About Teresa Martin

Teresa has been working with entrepreneurs since 2001 on marketing, communications, websites, business operations and strategy.