If you have a startup, then this has probably been a challenging year for you. You have Covid-19 to worry about, as well as racial equality demonstrations.
Many business owners feel that these demonstrations are for a good cause. They’re part of a long-overdue race-relations conversation.
If you have people of color working for you, then you might want to show your solidarity with them. However, you may be uncertain as to the best way to do it.
Here are some ideas as to how you can involve yourself and your startup in a meaningful way.
If you’re wondering how to support employees during the anti-racism movement, one of the best ways is to start a dialogue with them. This goes for all employees, not just certain races or demographics. By doing this, you can:
Get back some honest feedback regarding how they’re feeling
Gauge whether they want to involve themselves in a more direct way
You might get suggestions from the employees about what they’d like to do. If any of them are having a tough time dealing with the police brutality the nation has seen, it might help to get them to open up about it rather than letting it fester.
As a startup owner, if you support the Black Lives Matter movement, that’s not something you want to keep to yourself. You want to take a stand, because only by doing so can you implement real change.
Telling your employees that your company stands with the demonstrators
Creating signs and displaying them prominently in your store windows
Declaring support for BLM on your website
This is also a way for you to identify any customers who don’t support the movement. You want your business to succeed, but you may decide not to sell your products or provide your services to bigots. Stating your support for BLMwill probably encourage them to go elsewhere.
You might also put your money where your mouth is. It is one thing to say that you support racial equality, but it makes a much bolder statement when you contribute to the cause.
You can make a contribution to your business’s name to entities like:
The Justice for Jacob Blake Fund
The George Floyd Memorial Fund
The Justice for Breanna Taylor Fund
These are funds set up to help the victim’s families. They help to cover their legal expenses, get protestors out of jail, etc.
This is a direct way to positively influence this fight for progress. It also shows your employees that you’re serious about helping. This will encourage their loyalty and show them that you’re not just paying lip service to these ideals.
You might even consider canceling work on one of the days that there’s a demonstration nearby and attending. You can take the whole staff with you if any of them want to come.
This is a great way to show solidarity with those who are on the street protesting systemic racism and police brutality.
If you do this, though, understand that you’re putting yourself at risk. Some of these protests have led to police violence, and even deaths, like what happened in Wisconsin when teenager Kyle Rittenhouse involved himself.
You can also have sensitivity training for your whole company. You can make sure that everyone knows that you want all your workers to treat both other employees and customers respectfully.
That means not just people of color, but everyone, regardless of race, sexual orientation, religion, etc. You can conduct the training yourself, or you can bring in a company to do it. There are many good ones that you can find out about online.
You also want to emphasize to all your employees that if anyone ever does or says anything that makes them uncomfortable, they shouldn’t hesitate to tell HR about it. Tell them that you won’t retaliate against them for coming forward.
Black Lives Matter is just the latest incarnation of multiple population segments wanting change. It has been going on since slavery’s institution in this country and continued with the Civil War, the Jim Crow era, and desegregation in the 60s.
The fight is not over. It continues, and as a startup owner, you can take a meaningful stand and help this country move in the right direction.
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