Sustainability and Racial Inequality: we can’t achieve a fair future without first dismantling prejudice
We founded Compare Ethics because we want to change the world for the better, but the presence of systemic racism means we have a long way to go. We work to establish transparency and trust and to ensure fairer systems and structures in production and retail. However, it’s essential to address the intersection between sustainability and racial inequality if we’re going to take our aims of revolutionising supply chains and businesses seriously.
In order to build better systems, better processes, better societies, we need unity and without this, addressing issues around environment, social justice and animal cruelty is far more challenging.
As our planet suffers, forests burn and oceans brim with plastic pollution, black people are fighting for basic human rights, dignity, equality, healthcare, education and safety. And if this needs addressing, if the core values of our societies are damaged and dysfunctional, how are we ever to bring about sustainable futures on a global scale?
The miserable irony of this situation is of course, that people of colour experience the negative effects of environmental collapse and social injustice more than anyone else on the planet.
Clothing factories exploiting human labour, sub-par conditions for garment workers, modern slavery in supply chains, not to mention the locations worst affected by storms, tsunamis, pollution and landfill – people of colour suffer disproportionately as a result of these practices and phenomena.
So what can we do to advocate for black lives? How can we take action to ensure that our societies are not dysfunctional and that our infrastructures are not pervaded by bigotry, violence and racial inequality? Our Co-Founder, James, shares his thoughts on the events of the past week and on how we can achieve change, together.
As a black man, the scenes I watched in that extremely distressing video – another black man, George Floyd, losing his life to police brutality – were unfortunately not surprising. The continued systematic racial injustice seen across the world is as clear as day to me.
It’s been learned through lived first and second-hand experiences of various aggression – from being instantly dismissed at networking events and overlooked for promotions to more serious verbal and physical abuses. These incidents are just a few of many that black people experience on a daily basis.
Centuries of supremacist ideology dictating laws and developing industries means there is much work to be done. The pain and anger being expressed by protesters around the world at present is indicative of a failed system.
We need change. There must be change.
And how do we achieve this? We need an increase in participation of BAME individuals in every space and by ‘participation’ I mean critical mass and representation in every room.
We also need to see black entrepreneurs with access to finance. Just 0.9% of Founders based in Europe are black and 48% of black and minority-owned business owners don’t expect to qualify for support schemes.
Equal access to the technology industry is also essential. Lip service and virtue signalling in tech not move us forward, especially when developments in artificial intelligence clearly fail to be inclusive – facial recognition technology consistently falls short when identifying black faces.
And obviously, equal access to sustainability movements is needed. Black people are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis. Evidenced not least by the The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), – the main UN authority on climate science – reporting that changes brought on by the climate crisis will influence migration patterns. Yet are also disproportionately excluded from conversations about climate, sustainability and policy.
Of course we should all be showing solidarity for the pain and suffering a rigged system inflicts on black people on a daily basis. But for there to be change, we need a full-scale system change. We have to see faces like mine in the rooms where decisions are being made.James Omisakin, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Compare Ethics
At Compare Ethics we believe that sustainable futures can only be achieved fully, at a global scale, if we first dismantle systems propped up by racial prejudice and inequality. We can start by fighting injustice and advocating for black lives, black representation and black businesses. The following petitions make this a priority so please, consider signing them.
Below is a selection of organisations, funds, resources and charities based in the UK and US. Please consider clicking, reading, researching, following on social media, supporting and donating where you can.
We are calling on you to reach out and get in touch with us to share your ideas to help us build this system change – email@example.com.