On Juneteenth, What Does Increased Allyship Mean for Businesses?

If we take a look at the future of allyship and racial injustice in our country, we have reasons to be optimistic.

The author(s)
  • Manuel Garcia-Garcia, PhD Global Lead of Neuroscience, Global Science Organization
  • Malinda Midkiff U.S. Qualitative Healthcare
  • Barry Wahren Director, US Brand & Creative Excellence
  • Elizabeth Espinosa Senior Account Manager, US SIA
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There is much to be gained for all in an America where everyone has equal access to opportunities and full potential to achieve the American dream. But the promise of Juneteenth—a promise of freedom and equality for all—has yet to be fully realized.

In the summer of 2020, in the most diverse U.S. to date, we found significant disparities based on racial and ethnic groups. For example, in late August 2020, we reported that more than 8 in 10 black respondents have experienced some type of discrimination, and 58% feel their race places them at a disadvantage. White, Hispanic and Asian Americans are more likely to say it gives them neither an advantage nor a disadvantage. In this plural yet unequal America, two-thirds of Americans believe that racial equality is an important social value. We saw the most diverse group of supporters at protests organized by the Black Lives Matter movement, an example of continued allyship in social justice.

If we take a look at the future of allyship and racial injustice in our country, we have reasons to be optimistic. Young generations like Gen Z – the most diverse generation ever in our country – are fueling the movement. We share recent research and help companies understand what it means to be an ally.

For more research from this series, please click here.


KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  1. Allyship involves active anti-racism and consistency.
  2. Activists and allys have an important role in effective racial justice and change.
  3. Summer 2020 was an inflection point with the most diverse support for racial justice for Black Americans.
  4. Over four in 10 Americans across races are taking some action to become allies.
  5. Younger generations are leading the change with the most transformational actions. Gen Z is expecting businesses to make positive change happen.

There is much to be gained for all in an America where everyone has equal access to opportunities and full potential to achieve the American dream. But the promise of Juneteenth—a promise of freedom and equality for all—has yet to be fully realized. Effective components of fairly addressing inequalities and dismantling systems of racism include the passionate efforts of activists and allys.

Scholars agree that with regard to social justice movements, effective allyship includes active anti-racism and consistency. Historically, coalitions working to address racial inequality have included strong allies with distinctive perspectives and roles in the progress towards racial justice.

Fast-forwarding to the summer of 2020, in the most diverse U.S. to date, we found significant disparities based on racial and ethnic groups. For example, in late August 2020, we reported that more than eight-in-ten black respondents have experienced some type of discrimination, and 58% feel their race places them at a disadvantage. White, Hispanic and Asian Americans are more likely to say it gives them neither an advantage nor a disadvantage.

In this plural yet unequal America, two-thirds of Americans believe that racial equality is an important social value. We saw the most diverse group of supporters at protests organized by the Black Lives Matter movement, an example of continued allyship in social justice. We saw over 7,000 anti-racist and social justice demonstrations in over 2,400 locations across the country. More than 20 million people mobilized and organized, from grassroots organizations to corporate America and higher education, to take a stand against racial injustice. The U.S. had never experienced this breadth of allyship in a social justice movement.

Yet data from Ipsos online communities early last summer showed that only 34% of white Americans had taken any action against racism after the death of George Floyd. While analytics revealed that some individuals conform with not taking any active racist action, others are unsure how to stand against racism. Social media data revealed that Black people (59%) and Millennials, regardless of race and ethnicity (65%), were the most active groups.

By mid-June 2020, approximately 40% of people had started to make changes by doing things, like holding conversations about racism with family and friends. Online communities revealed that other actions of allyship ranged from showing support, educating themselves, supporting Black-owned business and making donations to anti-racist organizations. Consistency is key to achieving social change, and these behavioral changes had only increased by April 2021, almost one year since the onset of the protests.

This has prompted changes in people’s own behaviorBy May 2021, 43% of all Americans have, at least, educated themselves on the issue of racial injustice and discussed the issue with peers of a different ethnic group in the past year.

Understanding racial issuesIf we take a look at the future of allyship and racial injustice in our country, we have reasons to be optimistic. Young generations, like Gen Z and Millennials, also the most diverse generation ever in our country, are fueling the movement. On a more recent tracker on specific actions taken by Americans, those aged 18–34 are clearly leading the change, with more transformational actions, such as marching, donating and joining organizations fighting for social and racial justice.

Following the death of George Floyd in May, have you taken any of the following actions?Gen Z also expects businesses to address the social issues they, as consumers, support. A majority believe corporations should take a stand on social issues and speak out against state and federal laws that are wrong. Last summer, polling found that 56% of Gen Zers would be more likely to purchase something from a company that took a stand on racial justice, 25 points ahead of Boomers. And this fight for change shows that efforts to close the persistent racial wealth gap could lead to an increase of 4 to 6 percentage points in the U.S. GDP by 2028.

What does this mean for companies? There are many right and wrong ways for businesses to voice support. Research shows that backing up communication with authentic action and diversifying advertising through both content and talent are winning strategies to demonstrate support and allyship.

While Gen Z’s commitment to discussing and addressing racism in America sheds light on how far there is to go, there is no turning back from the summer of 2020. One thing is clear: America’s most racially diverse generation cares deeply about racial justice, and the conversation around racism this past year left its mark. This Juneteenth, Gen Z is not waiting for change to happen; they are making it. And, they expect you to do so too.

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The author(s)
  • Manuel Garcia-Garcia, PhD Global Lead of Neuroscience, Global Science Organization
  • Malinda Midkiff U.S. Qualitative Healthcare
  • Barry Wahren Director, US Brand & Creative Excellence
  • Elizabeth Espinosa Senior Account Manager, US SIA

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