“COVID-19 might not discriminate, but we’ve come to see that societies do.” This was the headline of an article on the Byline Times, a platform for freelance journalists to report what gets ‘unreported’ in the mainstream press. The article probes the results of a Public Health England inquiry into deaths as a result of the pandemic, concluding that “the impact of COVID-19 has replicated existing health inequalities and, in some cases, has increased them”.
Whatever viewpoint you subscribe to, it’s evident that the virus has shone a spotlight on the underserved and undervalued parts of society. It has taken a global health crisis for us to begin to revaluate who we have become as a society and what we value. And this issue has been given fresh meaning after the senseless death of George Floyd in the USA. The Black Lives Matter movement has gained global traction, uniting people of all races and backgrounds and spurring brands to speak out much more directly than they have perhaps before.
It is, of course, important for brands to openly support groups and communities at this time. Taking practical measures to support these causes and use their platforms for good. Whether it is assessing the diversity within the work that is being produced or reflecting on the team of people shaping the output. But this must be done in a way that’s not vacuous.