The Business Ethics of Black Lives Matter

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As we write this, protests are spreading across the United States, with demands that leaders confront systemic racism and discrimination. What started as a focus on policing is shifting to a broader dialogue about what both individuals and businesses are doing to foster fairness and equality.

Eliminating systemic racism, and more broadly supporting diversity and inclusion is a business ethics issue. This includes identifying and implementing policies and practices related to recruiting and hiring, training and development, compensation and rewards and social responsibility.

Here are some questions to start engaging in these discussions in your workplace:

  • How do the demographics of your organization align with your industry, geographic area, or the general public? What demographic, racial, and ethnic groups are under-represented? Knowing your metrics will help you know where you stand.
  • Recruiting and Hiring. Where do you recruit and how? How could you adjust your recruiting efforts to broaden the diversity of your candidate pool? When you look at your interview process, how many diverse candidates make it to the final interview round? How diverse are your interview teams?
  • Look honestly at your compensation policies. Do you offer a living wage to all employees? Do you offer benefits to all? If not, what would need to change to make that possible? How do the demographics align with your salary and benefit distribution? Are there steps you can take to pursue more equitable compensation approaches in the long-term?
  • Feedback and Rewards. Think honestly about who receives rewards and praise in the organization—and who also receives the in-depth developmental feedback needed to exceed in the future. Implicit bias can play out in the simplest ways. Ask: Who do we choose to highlight in staff meetings? Who do we send a congratulatory note to?  Who is worthy of developmental conversations? It is never too late to reach out to someone who may not have received the attention they need to reach their full potential.
  • Deciding who to include in new projects, special initiatives, task forces and other unique opportunities is an ethical decision. Look around and assess who is there and who is not. Make simple adjustments that can change lives and your organization.

Fairness, equality, justice, and opportunity—these are all values that many organizations espouse, but may not always be reflected throughout an organization when viewed through an ethical lens. Make the decision to review your organization and make change in ways that matter, now.

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