We can all agree that the death of George Floyd was beyond horrific. An innocent life snubbed out on the will of a white cop. Floyd of course was black. In the ensuing days, the Black Live Matter movement (for lack of a better word) was thrust into the limelight relegating COVID-19 to the back burner of the news cycle. Protests erupted worldwide—some peaceful and some not so peaceful. Damage was done; but more importantly, voices were heard and I believe that right now we are on the precipice of long-overdue and much needed change. That’s great news; but there are some hidden obstacles you may need to consider.
Be wary of social media
Today might be a good day to review your social media. While I hope none of our readers are racists, I am sure that we all have chuckled at a meme at the expense of another person. We may have “liked” it, shared it, or perhaps originated it. Will that come back to haunt you? Quite likely.
To give you an idea of what can happen. A local ice cream shop owner, a true mom and pop shop, was discussing rioting on his personal Facebook page and made the comment “If u act like an animal.. u get treated like an animal.” Not the best comment to make for sure. Well, someone that was privy to his page did a screen shot, passed it around and before you know it, about 40 people are protesting in front of the shop with signs and bullhorns. Protests are still continuing and this morning it took a different turn. The more vulgar messaging had not been shown.
I don’t know if the owners are true racists or if the comment was taken out of context; but I do know that they have lost a lot of business over the past week. Protesters have approached their customers to persuade them to leave and even became argumentative at times. The police have been there daily. All in all, not a good look for a retail business.
One of the customers drove up with his family in a company vehicle (had signs on it) and was approached by the protesters. They ignored it and bought their ice cream. Do you have an idea whose business was the site of the next protest because that business “supports racists”?
In a word, this movement is going viral and quite possibly leave a number of businesses in its wake.
So what to do
First off, (and this should go without saying) make sure that your business social media accounts reflect business messaging and nothing offensive.
Look to your personal accounts as well. You are the face of your business and there will be no distinction or separation. I have always had a policy (with a few exceptions) to never “friend” anyone I have not met in person and had some meaningful dialog; it has served me well. Go through your timelines and make sure that any questionable material is deleted or visible only to you. And consider locking down your personal profiles to disallow the public to view the contents.
Keep an eye out on the social media in your town. In my town, there are two lists roving the internets—one for black-owned businesses to support, and another for those that are suspected to be owned by racists, have racist policies, or have somehow supported another suspected racist business. It is a dangerous situation for any business and you need to be vigilant. You may think you are only buying business cards from your local printer, but if they are identified as a racist owned business, you could lose business just because you bought from them.
It is a very stressful time in the US and tensions are running high and it takes a very little spark to set off an explosion. In fact, that fire could be simmering right now without you knowing it. We have enough on our plates right now trying to recover from COVID-19, and anything else could just tip the scales. Forewarned is forearmed.