Founder of Consciously Unbiased, an organization helping companies meet their diversity and inclusion goals.
Covid-19 has slowly pushed us to move away from a society of “me” to a society of “we,” showing us indisputably that we are all part of an ecosystem and dependent on one another. We don’t live in guarded communities, and if we want to be safe and thrive in a world of globalization, we will have to make sure we think of others. We’re seeing that mindset being adopted by more business leaders as the next level of allyship.
For example, more and more big companies, such as Target, Walmart and Facebook, have stepped up to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Other businesses are amplifying the need for gender equality and environmental sustainability. While the notion of conscious capitalism, or the idea that doing good and making profits doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive, has been around for a while, the pandemic has amplified how people, businesses and the greater social good are all interconnected. For businesses to thrive, people and society also need to thrive.
If you’re a leader looking to have a business impact as well as a positive social impact, here are a few ideas for getting started.
Tap into your talent to pay it forward.
Your people are your greatest resource. Leverage your talent to get behind a cause, such as implementing volunteer programs and encouraging employees to devote a set amount of working hours to volunteering each month.
MORE FOR YOU
Some companies are taking it even further and dedicating their talent full time to social justice causes for one to two years, such as with the CEO Action for Racial Equity, where CEOs have offered up their talent through a fellowship program that allows them to use their experience to advance policies that promote societal well-being.
Support diverse suppliers.
In an effort to cut costs in the Covid-19 economy, many big companies might be choosing to give business to one or two big vendors. Yet, with the pandemic amplifying inequality, supporting small businesses and those run by diverse founders is more important than ever. Small businesses employ 47.5% of private-sector workers in the U.S., according to the Small Business Administration.
Supporting diverse suppliers starts with putting metrics in place and then tracking the progress. A step in the right direction was when Survey Monkey published an open letter with companies including 23andMe, Box and Zoom about spending money with vendors committed to diversity, inclusion and equity. Survey Monkey asked all of its vendors to take a workplace diversity survey, set benchmarks and make improvements.
Leverage your privilege for good.
Change doesn’t happen without passionate allyship. The truth is that the majority of leaders still tend to be white men. In 2020, women made up only 7.4% of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies, including only one Black woman and no Latina women, CNN reported. This shows we all need to work together for change to happen from the top down and all around.
We can look at this from a social psychology perspective: The theory of social proof says that people look to other people’s behaviors to help them figure out which behaviors are correct. To take that a step further, the principle of authority claims that people tend to obey figures that are in positions of authority, which means the behaviors that leaders model matter a lot. Finally, the principle of liking asserts that people are persuaded more by those they like.
As a leader, you are in a position of power to help address unconscious bias when you see it in a meeting, increase diverse representation on panels or in the boardroom and audit pathways to advancement within your organization.
Commit to closing the wealth gap.
The current pandemic and recession are amplifying the wealth gap, and business leaders are in a position to do their part to help combat it. According to an analysis by Axios, since George Floyd’s death and the following social unrest, Fortune 100 companies have pledged more than $3 billion and partnered with groups such as the National Society of Black Engineers, the NAACP, the National Urban League and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
You might think about organizations your company could partner with and support to allocate some of your resources for people and communities that have been traditionally underserved. Of course, for leaders, it’s imperative that you also walk the talk within your organization, such as by working to close the wage gap.
Using your talent, privileges and resources to help the greater good is something leaders can do right now to go from a “me” to a “we” mindset and make a positive impact on society. The benefits to your overall workplace culture and bottom line are an added bonus. There is a place for both profit and purpose in the business world.