At the end of May, a man you had never heard of died when a police officer knelt on his neck. George Floyd’s name has dominated subsequent debates about systemic racism and inequality in our society.
From the powerful symbolism of statues pulled from their plinths, social media blackouts and wall-to-wall media commentary, using communication to drive progressive social change has never been more needed.
We know the charity sector has a long way to go to eradicate racism in the structure and culture of our workplaces. As communicators, we can help organisations face up to hard truths by opening up a space for dialogue with those whose voices often go unheard.
We can also use the power of empathy to walk in someone else’s shoes and see the world through their eyes.
What might this mean in practice? Inside our organisations it means creating a culture of respect, transparency and accountability.
Externally, it means committing to work with new partners and allies, providing platforms to tell their stories and experiences, and amplifying the voices of the people they empower: young people, a d families of the victims of crime and racial injustice. To be visible and vocal and open to challenge when we fall short of the mark.
The commitment to learn from others and listen to their stories is at the heart of Channel 4’s timely The School That Tried to End Racism. The series shows the candour of year seven pupils and their bravery in speaking up and having the conversations it’s all too easy to avoid. It gives me hope that this generation is passionate and informed, and can use empathy to end the silence and create change.
Adeela Warley is chief executive of CharityComms