Prioritisation of equality, diversity, and inclusion should not be a passing phase

Cohesion Collective founder Roy Gluckman says the BLM movement has elevated the importance of diversity and inclusion.

Companies the world over are taking diversity and inclusion far more seriously than they ever have since the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in the U.S. began. Americans and the world at large were horrifically reminded of black people’s status as disposable and insignificant in the eyes of the US criminal justice system, and in the eyes of American society at large. 

Leaders have pledged to go above and beyond when it comes to doing something about the inequities in their workplace but not resulting in much noticeable change. Apple CEO, for instance recently launched a $100 million (about R1.6 million) racial equity and justice initiative, adding to the company’s response to the police killing of George Floyd. As the BLM protests roared across the US, South Africans echoed the righteous indignation of their brothers and sisters in the diaspora.

“We tweeted, posted, blogged and vlogged in solidarity with them.  The current social context, trauma and violence cannot be ignored, nor wished away. The 'new normal' is not only about social distancing and working from home, but growing unrest and intolerance for inequality, silence, violence and systemic exclusion,” says Cohesion Collective founder Roy Gluckman, adding that the intolerance for inequality is here to stay, adding that the BLM has provided the space for voices that are ignored, devalued and villainized the legitimacy to speak up again. 

Says Roy: “The anxiety, the anger, the fear, the voicelessness, the urgency, the pressure... remember these emotions. The work of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) has not become important all of a sudden. It has always been important. Yet, we deprioritise it. Why? Well, for those of us who hold privileged positions, it just doesn't seem that urgent. And this is where the tension lies. The status quo is cushy for some and untenable for others and that this tension must be resolved. But this isn't new. So it’s important that we remember these emotions when, in a few months, we have slipped back into the ‘new normal’ with EDI on the backburner or relegated to a discussion on ‘the numbers’."