'I am still the only person of colour on the team'
"I work in an industry that is mostly single white men," says 3D illustrator Hashmukh Kerai
Ovo Energy employees were confused when they found that their company had attended #blackouttuesday on June 2.
The normally light green branding on the Bristol-based company's Instagram posts had turned into a black square out of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement that day along with millions of others.
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In an accompanying contribution by Stephen Fitzpatrick, the managing director of Ovo Energy, it says: "The events in America last week have horrified us all." Then he promised to improve the diversity in the company.
The Instagram post triggered a reaction from the employees.
An employee said on an internal communication channel: "Thank you for showing solidarity with the Blacklivesmatter movement. Forums with employees have been held this year and we still need to get updates?"
Some wondered if it could have been hypocritical for the boss to say on social media that "we will now commit to reviewing our hiring practices to increase our representation of black and ethnic minority colleagues."
Instagram post from Ovo Energy: The reaction of some employees was skeptical
Another employee commented: "Oh, I missed that. Would have been nice if this message had also been sent to the employees ..."
The company said it provided details of its intranet in addition to Mr. Fitzpatrick's testimony, but adds that it is sorry that some employees missed this.
Since then, all employees have been sent another update via email with details of plans to improve diversity in the company.
Ovo's employees are not alone in their skepticism and in some cases in their anger towards their employer.
The murder of George Floyd has made itself felt not only in the United States, but also in Great Britain
Comprehensive company statements about the Black Lives Matter movement have been poorly received by workers in various industries because they lack communication and measurable change on a topic that is very important to them.
Two black presenters from UK's largest hip-hop radio station Capital Xtra said they were "embarrassed" by statements made by parent company Global Radio about the race.
When the women's lifestyle website, Refinery29, dimmed her home page for Black Out Tuesday last week, a former employee accused her of hypocrisy while others described a "toxic corporate culture". The editor-in-chief later resigned.
The editor-in-chief of the US food magazine Bon Appetit also resigned this week after a "Brownface" photo scandal and under the accusations of employees of a culture of racism in the magazine.
Many people have used social media to highlight the perceived hypocrisy in their sector.
Hashmukh Kerai, a 3D illustrator in the London advertising industry, wrote on LinkedIn: "I've seen a lot of creative directors, agencies and studios that support the latest Black Lives Matters events, but if you want real change, start looking What happens on your doorstep? "
Hashmukh Kerai's social media post
In seven years, Mr. Kerai says that he still has to "go to an agency if I'm not the only colored person who works with the team".
It's easier for him to work as a freelancer, he tells the BBC by getting on and off in teams instead of having to fit into a culture where he feels he never belongs.
"I work in an industry that is mostly single white men. It's still a bit like Mad Men - full of people who don't represent me," he says.
Corey Gaskin worked as a tech reporter for New York's Digital Trends for nine months, but said he was overwhelmed by what he believed to be a toxic environment for women, LGBTQ people, and color people.
He left after being disciplined for calling a corporate video racist.
Corey Gaskin says he has been overwhelmed by a "toxic environment" for women, LGBTQ people, and color people
"It's not okay to publicly accuse your employees of being racist," said Jeremy Kaplan, editor-in-chief at Digital Trends, in a BBC message.
Last week, when Digital Trends joined the # blackouttuesday campaign, Mr. Gaskin in response tweeted a picture of the company's chief operating officer, Chris Carlson, who was disguised as a racist stereotype at a "gin and juice" party that the company had hosted in his offices for two years.
Mr Gaskin's comments on Twitter sparked a storm of current and former employees who gave their own reports of racism and sexism in the company.
The company made a three-hour zoom call on Wednesday to address them.
Digital Trends has issued a statement with an apology, which is accompanied by a seven-step process that includes a new zero tolerance for racism and harassment, as well as a commitment to fair pay and transparency.
However, with deadlines on the action list, a company representative said there would be effects if they were not followed, but it was not clear what the impact would be.
Michael Jordan says he will donate $ 100 million to groups fighting for racial equality and social justice
D'Wayne Edwards also published a LinkedIn response to a Nike post to talk about the shoe company where he was formerly Air Jordan’s main designer.
Nike spends billions of dollars advertising black athletes and entertainers, but could better support its black consumers by investing in black communities and hiring more black talent to work at Nike, he said in his post.
When he started at the LA Gear shoe company, Edwards said he was the only black person in the building.
Today there are only around 175 African-American shoe designers in the industry.
According to Edwards, one of the reasons he left Nike was because the industry targeted African-American children as consumers and brand ambassadors, but didn't recruit them as employees.
"It's hypocritical because our industry is sending a really twisted mixed message to the world. It means we take care of it. They take care of it, but not enough to change the look of the internal workforce," said Edwards.
He likes the promises that brands have made on social media because they offer the opportunity to hold companies accountable in the future.
"They were public enough to say something," says Edwards. "Now I want you to tell me every month, how are you doing with the actions you've presented to the world?"
This was the center of the discussions he had this week with executives from Nike, Air Jordan and Adidas. The most common question he received was, "What do you honestly think we should do is authentic?"
Nike's Jordan brand announced last week that it would donate $ 100 million (£ 78 million) to African American communities over the next 10 years in addition to a $ 40 million commitment announced by Nike.
Mr. Edwards believes that educational programs in black communities are the goal of money and has launched his own program called Pensole to coach and train young designers of black shoes.
"I'm tired of talking. Let's do a few things. We waited a long time. It's time to do a few things."
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