Has your organization made real change in the push for racial equity?
Taking a good, hard look at your brand dimensions.
2020 has been the most challenging year I have faced as a leader at Willow. As a new partner in the agency, my resilience, energy, compassion, empathy and morals have all been tested like never before. Just when I think we’ve got one thing under control … BAM! I’m sure many of you feel this same way.
Well today I want to talk about the really hard topic, and really hard work that has to be done to move racial equity forward in our organizations. I’m not talking about a simple statement on our website or changing our diversity and inclusion statement on our job applications. I’m talking the hard stuff – looking in the mirror, asking the deep questions, reading/watching/listening to really thought provoking (and oftentimes super hard to hear) content from people of color. And then deciding to actually make some change inside our organizations that really does move us towards racial equity.
REAL change is necessary. And happens at the brand level.
I have spent the past 12 weeks doing a lot of listening and self reflection and realizing that I have a lot still to learn. As someone leading an organization, it is up to me to be vulnerable and open with our team about all of this, and seek their help in getting better.
Real change gets to the root of who we are as an organization. The culture, the values, the brand. Without making change at that level, everything is just superficial and temporary. As an agency who has helped establish brands for brand new companies as well as rebrand 100-year old organizations, we know that isn’t easy to do.
We use several branding models to help evaluate the internal and external perceptions of a brand, both currently and where the brand is headed. This starts with looking at the brand mind space through the perceptions of the 4 dimensions of a brand:
- Functional – The perception of benefit related to the product or service
- Social – The ability to create social identification with a group
- Mental – The ability to support the individual mentally
- Spiritual – The perception of local and global responsibility
Thomas Gad’s brand model helps to get to the DNA of what makes up each unique brand. If racial equity isn’t perceived as a priority by the staff or customers of an organization, it will be clear as the brand mind space is mapped out.
According to Gad, “The brand, as I define it, is your company’s differentiation code. It is a code as vital, as powerful, as universal, and as unique as DNA. The vast majority of the DNA code in human beings is identical. Difference is created by a very small percentage of our personal DNA. This is also the case with most products, services, and companies. There are very small differences between competitors in most businesses. The similarities are much greater than the differences. But a small amount of differentiation is enough not only to produce very different human personalities, but also to do the same with branded products, services, and companies.”
How your organization responds to addressing racial equity as a part of your brand is critical to your future success.
Tools to get started making REAL change.
I have found several resources that have been helpful in this journey. Here are a few that allowed me to clearly see areas of change to address and clear actions myself and our team can take to get real about pushing for racial equity.
- Agency Management Institute Racial Equity Report Card – this outlines key actions you can implement and make improvements on each quarter prepared by the Agency Management Institute
- Concentric Circles: Unpacking Privilege and Power Assessment – A series of questions one can ask when exploring privilege and power on an individual and organizational basis developed by Maggie Potapchuk, MP Associates
- The ‘Bias’ of Professionalism – An article on how to recognize white favoritism in your organization and how to transform the standards of professionalism by Aysa Gray
People to follow.
And here are a few of the voices that I’m flooding my inbox and AirPods with.
- Desiree Adaway – I’ve been participating in her Whiteness at Work series
- Ibram X. Kendi – here’s a recent session from the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System out of Maryland that I found valuable
- Rachel Cargle – Her Revolution Now video was one of the first pieces that really grabbed me and opened my eyes
What resources have you found helpful in producing real, meaningful change in your organization? Who are thought leaders that have forced you to think differently? What kind of change are you most proud of in your organization?