Members of the Business Fights Poverty network share their reflections on Black Lives Matter in this series. Today we hear from Olu Olanrewaju
BFP: Please introduce yourself?
OO: My name is Olu Olanrewaju. I work in the international affordable housing consultancy space. Assisting Private sector clients, Governments, development finance institutions such as KFW, Dfid, IFC and others in emerging economies to design and implement sustainable housing and urban development solutions.
BFP: What is your personal take on the actions surrounding Black Lives Matter triggered by the death of George Floyd?
OO: My response has ranged from despair, wariness and optimism! The wariness and despair stems from how long this has been going and why in 2020, racism in structural forms is still prevalent. The optimism is premised on the energy of the young people of various ethnicities and background. I sincerely hope that their sacrifices are not in vain.
BFP: What do you think business decision makers should do in light of this?
OO: Businesses that are behind the curve on this issue should begin with sober self reflection and listening to identify why they have been indifferent. Educate and learn what they should be doing differently not only in terms of culture change in their organisation but develop robust actions and plans. They should put in place robust arrangements to hold themselves accountable to promises made, so that it is beyond a tick box approach.
BFP: What does this mean with a backdrop of COVID-19?
OO: It reaffirms we are in turbulent times which requires all businesses to literally learn how to "dance on the flying carpet". It also means that businesses should be alive to the link between income inequality and higher rate of infections and possible deaths
BFP: What change would you like to see?
OO: Implementation of the long list of promises a lot of businesses and institutions have made over the years to address racial inequality and justice. And I would like to see a fairer world where we can all get along and use finite resources wisely!