Are you doing enough?
- Friday, 12 June 2020
This question has haunted me my whole career. Maybe my whole life. Because no matter how much we do, it often feels like it's not enough. We live in a society that makes us feel like we're not good enough unless we buy the latest shiny thing or follow the hottest guru.
I've reflected a lot on this idea of 'being enough' and I can honestly say that I am content with living a smaller, simpler life, or at least my own privileged version of it. To come back to the question though, no, it's not enough.
If we look critically at our impact, most of us, if not all of us, would have to conclude that we aren't doing enough.
And yet, I feel things changing.
From climate marches to Black Lives Matter, we are experiencing a shift in consciousness. This gives me hope. I have come back to a place where I dare to hope.
Black Lives Matter has gone global and we are all invited to examine our privilege. As someone who has often written and commented about discrimination and privilege, I thought I was off the hook. I couldn't have been more wrong.
The more I learn, the more I realise I have to learn. I also have to reflect on why it is important it is to me to be seen as "one of the good guys". Because I'm not doing enough.
How does it affect our credibility?
This is uncomfortable. It's meant to be uncomfortable.
Should you comment? Should you keep quiet? If you don't comment, you can be called out as being compliant in your privilege. If you comment, you are afraid to get it 'wrong'. And what should you say?
Crisis communications says you must respond right away but what makes me uncomfortable is watching brands and leaders jump on the hashtag bandwagon without taking the time to reflect and come to a considered position.
When I apply my credibility filter, it always comes back to authenticity.
If you are sufficiently well-educated on the issues to have a credible and considered position, you can step forward and be a thoughtleader. Please do. We need you to guide us. Realistically at this time, this probably means you are a Black activist on the frontlines.
If you are confused and trying to find your way, be honest and say that. Commit to learning and doing better. Use your voice to share resources and amplify those who are better informed.
We know from all activism ever that it takes time and that we need to be consistent. To make lasting change, we need to be in it for the long haul, not until the next trending hashtag takes its place.
So brands, if you change your logo into a Pride flag once a year but do nothing in your company to support gay rights, you are not credible. Putting a black tile on your Instagram when you have policies in place which discriminate against people of colour is not credible.
If you are a company or a leader who is posting "content" on Black Lives Matter (or climate or gay rights) but you can't point to numerous other times when you have written or spoken about the issue, take care. Embrace humility and admit that you don't know. Start to explore your own privilege and cultural conditioning. Change starts at home. There is so much amazing material already out there.
Commit to learning and doing better. Anything else feels inauthentic and affects your credibility. Right now, it's fairly safe to assume that you don't know and you need to do better. We all do. And we can do better. Together.