Members of the Business Fights Poverty network share their reflections on Black Lives Matter in this series. In this article we hear from Dr Tauni Lanier
BFP: Please introduce yourself.
TL: I am Dr Tauni Lanier. I work, live and thrive in South London.
I am a systems entrepreneur, who facilitates a change to an entire ecosystem by addressing and incorporating all the resources and actors required to move the needle on a variety of social and environmental issues. My expertise is in sustainable finance and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
BFP: What is your personal take on the actions surrounding Black Lives Matter triggered by the death of George Floyd?
TL: There is something about the movement that seems to have taken root in the wider social consciousness… this is no longer about a section of the society (long seen as outside the wider community). There is a demonstrable shift that Blacklivesmatter is a community movement that is part of the wider community; the impact is more universal. The link has been clearly made that the treatment of the black community is a reflection of all communities, if one section of society does not thrive, all do not thrive – “No justice, No peace.”
The treatment of the Black community is not merely the unilateral relationship with law enforcement but is multi faceted, to include, healthcare, education, access to food, productivity, etc. Indeed, the UN SDGs, which outlined the world’s greatest challenges, has a strapline “Leave no one behind.” No One is the key.
BFP: What do you think business decision makers should do in light of this?
TL: I am seeing a shift in businesses, on paper, talking about ‘racism’ as something separate from the ‘diversity’ subject. Diversity I would argue is too encompassing. Diversity is important, but the singular issue of racism is having a movement of its own.
This is similar to the issue of ‘climate change’ breaking away from ‘environmental’ issues – having a life of its own. I think having racism breaking away from diversity – with a life of its own – is a good thing.
BFP: What does this mean with a backdrop of COVID-19?
TL: The higher death rates in African-Americans, due to Coronavirus, the Allostatic load scores for Blacks, were much higher than the White population. This racial-inequality cannot be explained by social-economic issues or pre-existing health issues; but by the consistent and stressful coping efforts needed by communities of colour to live in a race-conscious society. The conclusions are very clear; repeated experience with social and economic adversity and political marginalisation – which fundamentally means that African-Americans are in a constant state of ‘fight or flight’ arousal – this constant and unrelenting stressors has a deleterious impact on health leading to a significant lack of ability to fight off disease.
In case you're interest I have written a blog on this topic, found here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/sdg16-covid-19-communities-colour-dr-tauni-lanier/
BFP: What change would you like to see?
TL: I think having racism breaking away from diversity, as an issue to be measured within business – with a life of its own – is a good thing. With racism being its own movement within the business community, I hope, that change will occur and the impact of racism (even in its most subtle form) in the workplace, operations, finance, CSR, etc has a deleterious effect on businesses and the license to operate.
If one is not valued, everyone is not valued.