What businesses can do to support social justice right now
Between shutdowns spurred by COVID-19 and protests for social justice, business owners are having to react quickly to evolving situations. But even in the midst of an unpredictable environment, there can be opportunities for businesses to thrive. Here are some things business owners are doing to support social justice initiatives that are also serving to boost their business.
What Black-owned businesses are doing to get noticed
Lots of consumers are trying to show their support by patronizing Black-owned businesses, and there are lists circulating all over social media to help people learn where to buy. Getting on these lists is easy – all it usually takes is a mention in a comment or a message to the creator of the list.
Some lists include businesses of a specific type, like the one WeRateDogs started on Twitter for pet-related companies. Others include Black-owned business by location, like the one Brava shared with its readers in Madison, Wisconsin. Perhaps the most comprehensive list can be found on MyBlackReceipt.com, an organization dedicated to demonstrating the economic power of Black people and allies.
Another way Black-owned businesses are promoting themselves is by forming an alliance, especially in areas where there are few Black-owned firms. In Boston, the Boston Black Hospitality Coalition was formed to help Black-owned restaurants weather the COVID-19 pandemic, but collaborations like this can help in any environment.
Many organizations that support Black-owned businesses have gotten a lot of press lately, making them easier to find. For example, the Minority Business Development Agency provides information on loans and grants, as well as advice from business experts at local Business Centers. Accion International invests in and partners with underserved businesses worldwide.
3 Ways your business can support social justice
Hiscox has taken several steps to support social justice initiatives, which can be adopted by other companies as well.
Use these steps to advocate for social justice.
- Rethink recruitment by identifying and removing barriers to success for Black employees. Hiscox will continue to focus recruitment efforts at historically Black colleges and universities and use diverse panels for interviews.
- Work with diverse suppliers by instituting a ‘code of conduct’ for suppliers. We expect our vendors to take racial and social justice seriously, and we will be communicating our expectations to them. While we won’t be telling vendors how to run their business, we will set a standard for behavior, and we will address matters if their actions run counter to our expectations.
- Support your employees by allowing those who choose to safely demonstrate or volunteer to take an extra PTO day. You can also offer that extra day to anyone who needs a mental health break right now.
Spread the word among other businesses
Just as consumers vote with their wallets when they decide where to shop, as a business owner you have a say in the companies you do business with. Ask your suppliers what their policies are relative to social justice, and don’t hesitate to take your business elsewhere if their views don’t align with yours. If you’re looking for minority suppliers, try the National Minority Supplier Development Council, which promotes minority-owned businesses in the B2B space.
Implementing permanent change during this time of upheaval is critical. Small business owners are nothing if not imaginative. The first step toward a better future for society and for your business is to imagine it, then work toward it.