The film is introduced by Kerry Griffith, diversity, equity and inclusion consultant, whose job it is to help lead bp in developing an inclusive culture and raise awareness of the importance of speaking candidly about challenging topics such as race.
We spoke to Kerry about what ‘end racism day’ means to him and why it's important to tackle some of the lesser-known topics like microaggression, equity, code-switching and allyship.
We need to recognize that the world isn’t balanced for everyone. Employees are a part of society and, as such, large companies like bp can do a lot of good by taking strong visible positions and acting with integrity.
Two years ago, after the George Floyd murder – Bernard sent a note out to all staff acknowledging the anger employees were feeling and condemning racial injustice. To me, that was monumental, by doing that, he was saying: “I see you, the company sees you.” I had not witnessed anything like that before from a senior leader at bp.
The events of 2020 were a wake-up call for all of us. We refocused and challenged how we approached racial injustice. bp launched its US and UK frameworks for action, which focus on equity for under-represented communities. Through this aim, bp is taking steps for positive change and holding itself accountable.
Code-switching is when someone from a different ethnic background changes the way they speak or behave depending on who they are with. Usually, it’s to conform to a societal norm or to disassociate from a cultural stereotype.
At bp, we are asked to bring our true selves to work, but to do that we need to recognize individual experiences and that microaggressions, code-switching, allyship and equity impact the inclusivity of an environment.
It is draining having to prove yourself, or explain who you are, so code-switching makes life easier. It’s more of an affinity thing – I don’t need to explain myself with people who share my history and know what certain things mean.
When someone says “I don’t see colour”, they aren’t necessarily meaning to be insensitive, or harmful to you, but it invalidates people’s experiences. The phrase is framed around the perceived ethnic norm – which is Western Caucasian and translates to “I don’t see you”.
I know the person is trying to say we are the same, but the point is we’re not. That’s not a negative thing – we need to acknowledge and celebrate differences in culture and ethnic background. Some of the richest relationships and conversations I’ve had are when we take the time to really understand cultural backgrounds and validate each other’s lived experiences.
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