For sad reasons, RacialEquity became a focus topic (once more) in recent years and months. Journalists from the DW TV explore corporate responses in the field – on both side of the Atlantic – including a 4-minute summary on European specifics.
For decades, companies were expected to keep away from politics. Hence, it may surprise that D&I stakeholders now demand that corporate leaders take a public stand against discrimination and specifically for RacialEquity, GenderEquality and Inclusion. In the U.S.A., some CEOs have done so regarding biased political moves like the most recent electoral reform in Georgia or various cases of racism (or sexism) in the past. A quick look at the European landscape seems to suggest that companies here are not publically engaged in this agenda. Deutsche Welle TV invited the International D&I Engineer, Michael Stuber, to provide a 4-minute expert assessment. Here is his summary and below is the recording of the live programme.
What is the situation in Europe?
When looking at Corporate RacialEquity activities in Europe it is paramount to consider the specific European legal background that is most consistent within the EU and requires comprehensive non-discrimination across at least six (often more) dimensions, along all steps of the employee life cycle and regarding employee experience often called belonging or inclusiveness. This provides a more comprehensive and coherent context for RacialEquity and also more breadth and depth to cover than, e.g. in the USA.
When transposing the RacialEquity conversation from the USA to Europe, we should adjust its framing accordingly. For important reasons, the USA is used to using a BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of color) framing whereas the European umbrella platform of anti-racism organisations – most of them grassroot – recommends an ‘ethnicity & origin’ paradigm for Europe. Make no mistake: This is not a blind spot nor an avoidance of calling out racism but a learning from European history and an acknowledgement of the variety of current realities and needs.
Do European Corporations do (enough of) what they should be doing?
In recent years, I have noted a pattern that seems to applaud US-based firms for the many things the do on D&I and criticise Europeans for being behind and never doing enough. Our analyses, however, do not support this mantra. The EMEA-wide D&I landscape has developed over 25 years both steeply and broadly. Publicity, however, is mainly gained through, from and for
- special interest partnership platforms (for gender, anti-racism, age, disability, LGBT or family-friendliness) and
- Diversity charter platforms that currently exist in 26 countries
The latter had organised a Diversity week focusing on anti-racism in 2020 and are currently holding a Diversity month, again with a racial equity focus. These events include thousands of initiatives, events, campaigns and other activities, which are sometimes criticised for being a bit too stand-alone, temporary or publicity focused, rather than aiming at consistent systemic change. Whatever your interpretation, they illustrate a robust corporate agenda.
Which new directions do European Companies take in D&I?
In recent years, we have seen many more C-level executives joining the D&I conversation. With best intentions, they proclaim human values and reject the need for a business case. This is in sharp contrast with both empirical evidence and decades of experience. Unlike in society, a business-based storyline must provide the intrinsic sense-making – the why – of a change process that also addresses existing blind-spots. Many companies, for example, consider themselves diverse based on the many nationalities that work for them while overlooking the gaps in employing racial or ethnic minorities.
While some companies are intensifying their resource-demanding topic-focused activism, often linked to IWD, GayPride etc., and often hiding in larger partnerships, others are re-focusing their Diversity & Inclusion work to combine amplified minority perspectives with business priorities. This leads to robust change agendas that engage mainstream allies in an impactful change process that delivers benefits for all stakeholders at the same time.
Recording of the DW Live Programme
Thanks to Deutsche Welle for covering the topic and for having me.