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Allyship in business: battling racism and discrimination with Cephas Williams and Caroline Casey

15 January 2021

When we talk about businesses changing for the better, often we hear the phrase “diversity and inclusion” as an area for improvement. And yet the issues of discrimination and equal opportunity in business are broad, it’s impossible to capture the struggle of so many different people and communities with one sweeping phrase. 

There are issues such as racial discrimination, gender diversity, the inclusion of differently-abled people, LGBTQ+ representation, and many, many more. These areas each have their own change makers – the campaigners and activists working hard to bring real and lasting change so that no one is discriminated against or left out. 

Two such campaigners shared their stories with us here at Change Makers. They are pushing for change for two very different communities and yet, both found 2020 to be a momentous year – and one that will hopefully create a lasting and positive impact. 

We talked to Cephas Williams, founder of the 56 Black Men campaign about changing the narrative on young British black men and putting a stop to their discrimination – and we also spoke to Caroline Casey, founder of The Valuable 500 about opening up the business world to people with disabilities. 

Here’s what they had to say about creating change and the next steps businesses can take to make a difference. 

Cephas Williams – founder, 56 Black Men 

For the black community, 2020 was a year of great pain. One that will be remembered for heartbreaking reasons. But one that also signalled the potential for real change. A number of brutal murders of black people, most notably that of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, sparked a series of protests across the world in which millions of people demanded not only justice for these killings but also a commitment to end racism for good. 

While Cephas recognises the opportunity to open people’s eyes to the everyday racism and violence against black people across the world, he also cautions that we have been here before. “For me, almost every moment and every time, it feels like a watershed moment. And then it’s almost like the world goes back to sleep again. 

“So, for people that might be plugging into the conversation for the first time – black people are not saying something new, they’re saying what we’ve been saying for centuries. Do I see change? Yes and no. Change isn’t just about people becoming aware of the situation and stand