If you really want to be part of the change, it’s time to get uncomfortable

8 June 2020

If you really want to be part of the change, it’s time to get uncomfortable

Black Lives Matter protests continue to take place across the globe. For sustainability professionals who have never experienced racism or unconscious bias there may be uncertainty over how to support the fight for equality, however staying silent and sitting back is as toxic for endemic racism as it is for preventing climate change, and for those of us in positions of privilege it is important to add our voices and to illicit change.

As Jarami Bond writes in his article for GreenBiz here “As sustainability professionals, we must lead the cultivation of a more inclusive, equitable and safe world for all. We not only must steward the environment, but also explore ways to meet the needs of the vulnerable and create healthy platforms for people of all backgrounds to embrace commonalities, celebrate differences and heal tensions. If not us, then who?”

Countless studies have confirmed the power of racial biases to shape everyday decisions in almost every aspect of life. As reported by the Guardian in their article here, white job applicants were found to be 74% more likely to have success than applicants from ethnic minorities with identical CVs. University professors were found to be far more likely to respond to emails from students with white-sounding names. US doctors have been found to recommend less pain medication for black or Latino patients than white patients with the same injury.

Jarami Bond writes that if we really want to be part of the change, it’s time to get uncomfortable and lean in wholeheartedly to the discomfort that taking action may bring. This may include pushing for your company to hire people of colour or to call out workplace bias and discrimination when it happens. It may be learning about your own biases and privilege, especially those unconscious biases that you may not be aware of.

At IMS, we consider that a practical way that you could improve your organisations response and discussions about race is to draw racism into reporting in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reduced inequalities, so that there is active focus on what your organisation is doing to contribute to change.