Panel: Racial injustice demands action, not just rhetoric

Corporate vows and fleeting public attention make words spoken today, however impassioned, likely to float away unless executives and activists take definite steps to correct imbalances.

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As the spotlight turns to institutional racism in corporate America, one salient point emerges: Words matter, but without action they are not nearly enough.

These truths were emphasized by a four-person panel of communicators and crisis experts held Monday, June 8, during the Ragan webinar, “Brands Taking a Stand: Social Purpose + Black Lives Matter.”

The discussion, spurred by the national upheaval over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, transcended societal divides and reached into internal and external messaging—as well as hierarchical structures—at U.S. companies.

“Organizations, based on their values and their ethics and what they were founded upon, have an obligation to say something,” observed Brandi Boatner, social and influencer communications lead for global markets at IBM.

“These are difficult times, but they’re also brand-defining times,” observed Carol Russell, CEO of Russell Herder in Minneapolis. “You have to understand what your values are. I think when organizations get into trouble is when they speak before they have got their own brand story on a solid foundation.”

Silence is leaden

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