At Provoc we spend a lot of time considering how to structure our business as a for-profit enterprise while also honoring values that will bring into being a world transformed by equity, beauty, and love.
As we explore relationships in the world, we often see other companies enthusiastically embracing values such as sustainability that they perceive to be directly connected to their business. These same teams seem less comfortable or willing to openly embrace racial equity as a value. We regularly hear people say, “That’s amazing, but doesn’t really relate to what we do.”
The notion that racial equity can be separate from or irrelevant to a company’s purpose or work is a mistake. In fact, we’ll go as far as to say that a company’s claim to be a socially responsible business hinges on its willingness to explicitly prioritize racial equity as a value.
In order to dig into this belief and to learn from business leaders who are orienting their businesses around a deep commitment to racial equity and justice, we hosted a panel at the Social Venture Circle Conference in Berkeley last month. Titled “When Racial Justice Becomes a North Star,” our panel featured David Jackson, CEO of Impact Hub, Hope Henson-Lehman, Founder of Fresh to Def Collective and JustBE, and Lynn Johnson, Co-Founder of Spotlight Girls and Oakland Freedom Theater. These visionary leaders came together to courageously and unapologetically share the raw truth of what it looks like to live into this commitment. One lesson that our panelists shared is not to let perfection be the enemy of progress. A commitment to racial equity is easier to live up to some days than others, and we won’t always get it right. David, Hope, and Lynn all agreed that missteps along the way are perfectly ok, so long as we remain committed to our goal.
This insight really resonated with our own experience at Provoc. We are constantly in awe of the power of these leaders and remain committed in their honor to continue our journey daily to prioritize racial equity in our company, our work, and our lives.