When we certified as a B Corp we expected to be regularly challenged to reflect on how we could better be “a force for good” in line with the B Corp declaration of interdependence.
Recent events in the USA and the protests that have spread throughout the world have shone a spotlight on racial injustice. They have challenged us and forced us, from our position of privilege, to consider how to respond to the violence and racism experienced by Black and People of Colour across our communities: above all we know we can no longer stay silent.
We were also struck by B Corp CEO Anthea Kelsick’s recent post: she challenged us, but also gave us some constructive direction with 5 questions, as well as the encouragement to start the journey, without knowing the answers right now, but with clear intent to change.
How am I educating myself and my stakeholders about structural racism?
How am I holding space to allow for conversations about structural racism in my company?
What practices does my company have in place to support Black and People of Color team members?
How am I supporting Black and People of Color business leaders that are in the B Corp community or other communities I’m a part of?
How am I supporting civic engagement to hold public leaders accountable and tackle structural racism in our systems of government?
While it’s ok to not have all the answers to these questions, it is not ok for us to avoid seeking answers, or to avoid challenging ourselves and each other. We must go on a journey, together, to take action.
Our US colleagues helped us develop a three-part response for us as individuals and as an organisation:
Listen Listen to those around us who are directly or indirectly affected, and can talk to the experience of racism. Seek conversations we wouldn’t previously have sought. Within Oxford we will create space where we can listen and support each other.
Learn Read widely on the subject, its history, its present. Seek out authors of colour, not just on the subject of racism, but on their stories, lives, histories and cultures. Within Oxford we will build a library of resources to build awareness, and encourage change, that we will share within the community, and our stakeholders. Live We will call out racism when we see it, have difficult conversations with others who don’t. We are prepared to risk getting it wrong in the desire to get it right. Within Oxford, we recognize much progress needs to be made and we commit to taking action to build a more diverse and inclusive team. We will also support organisations leading the change, where our skills can add value and make a difference – if you think your organisation might partner with us, please get in touch.
We know that we have a long road to travel, that we’ve a lot to learn, but having the support and resources of the B Corp network and the resolve of our community, is helping us to take the first steps. We’d be keen to learn from others with similar intent, and will share the results of our actions, in the coming weeks and months.