March 21st has been designated as a day to recognize the long and ongoing struggle to eliminate racial discrimination in the world, in our countries, in our workplaces and in our communities. We are all aware of the growth that has been experienced in our culture, and we appreciate and celebrate all progress. We also are aware that there are areas where racism is unfortunately woven and hidden within the structures, which we would call systemic racism. Systemic racism is real and it takes effort to bring an end to it.
The International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination is established by the UN and observed annually on the day the police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid “pass laws” in 1960. Apartheid existed well within our lifetimes, and it took effort, organizing, and focused action to finally bring it to an end.
Don’t remember apartheid? Wikipedia says, “It was a system of social stratification wherein white citizens had the highest status, followed by Indians and Coloureds, then black Africans.” The whole world had to get involved to change this, and they did. Human beings brought an end to apartheid. The point is, things change, and we are the ones who change things.
From the UN website we see the following:
“The United Nations General Assembly reiterates that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and have the potential to contribute constructively to the development and well-being of their societies. In its most recent resolution, the General Assembly also emphasized that any doctrine of racial superiority is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous and must be rejected, together with theories that attempt to determine the existence of separate human races.” Read the full article HERE.
It has been 75 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted. We encourage you to read this beautiful document HERE. The UDHR states that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms, without distinction of any kind, such as race and color, among others.
Racism in the US
As we well know, the US has come through a long and painful journey with regard to racism and discrimination. Although racism comes in many colors, the primary battle in the US has been to eliminate racism directed against the descendants of enslaved African men, women and children. We can look back at battles and victories including civil rights and affirmative action.
As mentioned earlier, we are still challenged with systemic racism which is woven into systems such as judicial, educational, healthcare, prison, policing and so forth. It’s the sad truth, but things are always changing for the better, because we do so. With awareness comes the ability and insight to make effective changes. On this commemoration day we can look both at the progress and the work that is yet to be done.
Changes in the Corporate World
In the corporate world, present day efforts to eliminate racial discrimination in the workplace, in hiring and promotion, fall under a set of policies and initiatives called DE&I – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. DE&I initiatives are actions taken by a corporation to prioritize building a diverse workforce, and creating a work environment that is equitable and inclusive for everyone.
AMS Fulfillment is a B Corporation that practices DE&I, and has done so for some time. We have seen that prospective employees are attracted to our company when they see us seeking to establish a workforce made up of diverse backgrounds, with inclusion programs and leaders that support underrepresented groups, especially those that may have faced exclusion and discrimination in other workplaces. DE&I initiatives also serve to keep turnover rates low at AMS and they improve employee morale.
Diversity, equity and inclusion is a mindset that encourages a sense of belonging and improved workplace relationships. Employees are encouraged to embrace differences and deal respectfully with conflict. We also encourage our teams to trust each other and know that they can comfortably address concerns with supervisors. Managers are encouraged to be compassionate and have empathy in resolving disputes. They are asked to focus on the needs of their team.
We asked AMS Senior Program Administrator, Samantha Hicks, for her thoughts on how DE&I is utilized at the company: “We ensure all benefits are provided to all employees. All employees have access to internal job openings. We enroll employees of all backgrounds to all our company trainings, which range from trainings on empathy and cultural differences to college course training. AMS has a zero-tolerance policy for harassment, including bullying. Our recruitment team targets under-represented communities, and HR takes steps to ensure all disciplinary action and/or promotions are not due to color or culture, but strictly upon performance, ensuring all employees are treated fairly and have the same opportunity for growth.”
BE the Change
At AMS we seek to Be the Change. Yes, there is change that the world longs to see. We are grateful for all B Corporations who make a legal commitment to change the system… the way of doing things for profit alone. Unthinkable things have been done for the purpose of increasing profit. ‘Profit above all’ is a business structure that is changing. As history tells us, we human beings are continuously seeking to make human rights a reality. It is good to look at history and see what we did right
On this important day, we can pause to remember what the Member Countries of the UN wrote – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – some 75 years ago. The changes we are making to systems are one of the many outcomes of this outstanding Declaration.
And we can also gratefully remember the 69 peaceful demonstrators in Sharpeville, South Africa, whose death brought change to that inhumane system.