By Vernā Myers
”Neutrality at this point is complicity with the status quo, and the status quo is racism,“ Vernā Myers says at Promax conference.
Netflix’s vice president of inclusion strategy Vernā Myers shared four steps that she believes can help companies behave in an “anti-racist” manner.
Delivering the keynote address Tuesday for the 2020 Promax Virtual Experience, Myers said that decision-makers must control what they can, with so many preexisting factors out of their hands.
Here are Myers’ four steps for creating an anti-racist workplace:
- “Spend the money” and hire a professional on equity and diversity.
- Do your own personal work to understand racism.
- Hear from new voices and “listen to believe.”
- Interrupt bias when you see it; “This is not the time to be a bystander.”
“At this point, neutrality is no longer an option,” Myers said at the entertainment and marketing industry conference. “Neutrality at this point is complicity with the status quo, and the status quo is racism. We may not have created it, we don’t believe in its tenets, but at this point, racism doesn’t need our beliefs to survive. It’s automatic, it’s built-in. So in order for us to get rid of it, we have to be intentional. We have to act. We have to be anti-racist.”
In her speech titled “Overcoming Bias and Disrupting Institutionalized Racism: From Neutrality to Action,” Myers explained that industry leaders must “learn to bias-proof the systems that we’re in charge of.” And in business, those systems include succession planning, compensation systems, talent development, and the selection of partnerships, to name a few.
“Evaluate who gets access and how you bridge those gaps,” Myers suggested.
“This is the time for us to learn, to walk in solidarity with Black people and other traditionally excluded and underrepresented groups and remove the barriers to their success,” Myers concluded her talk. “This is the time to create a new status quo, to imagine something that is not repressive but life-giving to us all. None of us are going to be as excellent as we could be unless all of us are allowed to compete fairly.”
Here is Promax’s synopsis:
“The brutal Killing of George Floyd by police and the Black Lives Movement have not only shined a light on police brutality and racial injustice in the United States, but also racial inequities and anti-blackness operating in all aspects of our society. The entertainment and marketing industries are no exception. What should our response be in light of these disturbing and painful revelations? Vernā Myers will discuss how we can recognize and take an active stance against the conscious and unconscious biases and systems of power and privilege that maintain racial disparities. She will challenge us to see this time as an opportunity to actively reimagine a new, more inclusive, and equitable world – one where Black people and other marginalized groups are truly included and we can all experience the creative power of difference.”
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