SLC diversity consultant’s advice on reviving the spirit of the summer BLM protests

Jan 20, 2021, 5:25 PM
Alvin Nelson holds a sign that reads "Black Lives Matter" outside the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan, Ill., during Kyle Rittenhouse's second extradition hearing Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. Rittenhouse, accused of killing two protesters days after Jacob Blake was shot by police in Kenosha, Wis., on Friday fought his return to Wisconsin to face homicide charges that could put him in prison for life. (Pat Nabong/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)
(Pat Nabong/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — After the thrust of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement seemed to fizzle with the coming autumn, a diversity and inclusion consultant discusses ways to reignite the passion and indignation that sparked the protests against all forms of racism.

Amy Donaldson and Jasen Lee are joined by Neelam Chand, founder and CEO of Shift SLC — a diversity and inclusion consulting firm in Salt Lake City — to talk about the loss of momentum after the BLM protests last summer demonstrating against police brutality and racially motivated violence against Black people.

Racial shift at lowest possible cost

Chand said she talked with several organizations across the nation about how to bolster diversity and inclusion within the organization.

Chand wrote an article titled “Now that the protests are over, companies are going back to business as usual” for Utah Business. 

“What I’ve noticed is during the summer of 2020 a lot of organizations wanted to really talk about racial justice and what that would look like. They wanted anti-racism training. They wanted to hire a chief diversity officer or have a few folks really activate diversity and inclusion within their organization. They started employee resource groups that really focused on different cultural aspects of different identities,” Chand told Lee on KSL’s “Voices of Reason.”

“And so all of this happened, and then it sort of died down. I realized in my conversations with different CEOs and organization leaders, it’s no longer about racial justice; it’s more about how do we do diversity and inclusion work at the lowest cost possible and to say that we’ve done it.

“I don’t think all organizations are doing that. But the organizations that really just wanted to do anti-racism work for the summer, take anti-racism work and put it in their backseat and really start to focus on other parts of their business. I wrote this article as sort of a wake-up call, but also a call to action and not let anti-racism work fall back, ” she said.

Where did the idealism go?

“When you were talking to organizations What was it that you saw? Was it fatigue? Was it not understanding that this was — this is a lifetime practice. It’s like the old adage: Life is not cured it’s managed. And I would say that probably applies to anti-racism. That the work is constant. It’s a lifelong endeavor to undo this. . . I wonder what you saw or what you heard was the reason for falling away from some of these ideals?” Donaldson asked.

Chand said the organizations that have now fallen silent on anti-racism work were in crisis-management mode.  She said after the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) employees were demanding more of their leadership.

But instead of acknowledging that they may be part of the problem, leaders were driven more by how to fix the problem and quickly, so the organization can move on and get back to business, Chand said.

How is the spirit behind BLM protest maintained?

What do you do to remind employers that it’s important to maintain the momentum in order to make forward progress on diversity, inclusion and equality? Lee asked.

Chand said it begins by working with leaders to give them a better understanding of their role in fighting racism. For those leaders who take personal accountability in racism, their organizations are the ones that integrate anti-racism work into the DNA fabric of their businesses. 

“But we don’t get there until the leaders in these organizations get to a point where they have a personal understanding of what it means to be anti-racist,” she said. “And what it means for them on a very human, personal level. Until then it’s just action . . . based off a some sort of crisis.”

Do business leaders get the purpose of BLM?

Donaldson asked whether employers or leaders of companies and organizations ever came to a real understanding about what the BLM protests during the summer were all about or whether they were merely motivated to placate their employees and move on.

“There are some great organizations out there that are doing the work,” Chand said. “When I wrote this article I think there was this misconception that all organizations are at this place where they just don’t care. And that’s not the case. Actually, quite a bit of organizations are the very beginning of the journey of anti-racism work.”

“But the organizations that just wanted to do performative allyship — which means basically to show the world that they care about these issues, whether it be it through an ad or a social-media post or a statement. Those organizations that just did that and didn’t do the actions that were required of them to back up the statements. Those were the organizations that really just did their one thing and then moved on to business as usual,” Chand said.

“I think those organizations are the ones who are suffering the most. The employees within those organizations are suffering the most. . . . [The employees are saying] you purchased an ad that said ‘Black Lives Matter.’ What happened? Where is the follow up?”


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Breakfast Sandwiches are one of hundreds of recalled products. (CNN, stock)...
Nouran Salahieh, CNN

More than 400 products including breakfast sandwiches and fruit cups recalled due to possible Listeria contamination

"The recall was initiated after the company's environmental samples tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes," Fresh Ideation Food Group said in its recall announcement.
10 hours ago
House Bill...

Bill permitting pregnant people to use HOV lane passes House

A bill allowing pregnant women to use the HOV lane has passed the House. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
10 hours ago
KAHRAMANMARAS, TURKIYE - FEBRUARY 6: A view of the destroyed building after 7.4 magnitude earthquak...
Rhea Mogul, Gul Tuysuz, Isil Sariyuce, Kareem El Damanhoury and Rob Picheta, CNN

More than 1,500 dead as powerful quake hits southern Turkey and Syria

One of the strongest earthquakes to hit the region in a century shook residents from their beds at around 4 a.m. on Monday, sending tremors as far away as Lebanon and Israel.
10 hours ago
This photo taken with a drone shows portions of a Norfolk and Southern freight train that derailed ...
Hannah Sarisohn, CNN

Evacuations ordered amid fears of an explosion as an Ohio train continues burning days after derailment

Residents near the site of a train derailment that sparked a massive fire in East Palestine, Ohio, were urged to evacuate immediately Sunday night.
10 hours ago
GOSHEN, CA - JANUARY 16: Tulare County Sheriff crime unit investigates the scene where six people, ...
Cheri Mossburg, CNN

2 arrested in central California shooting that left 6 dead, including mother clutching 10-month-old son

Originally Published: 03 FEB 23 16:30 ET Updated: 05 FEB 23 22:44 ET     (CNN) — Two suspects were taken into custody, one after a shootout, in a “cartel-style” massacre last month that left six people dead in central California, including a young mother and her 10-month-old son, authorities announced Friday. The suspects, identified in charging […]
10 hours ago
A woman wearing white sitting in front of a light box...
Michelle Lee

Winter blues: light therapy and lifestyle changes can help

SALT LAKE CITY – With the chilly weather and the shorter days, many people are prone to experience the winter blues. In the latest Let’s Get Moving with Maria podcast episode, host Maria Shilaos spoke with Dr. Jason Hunziker from the Huntsman Mental Health Institute about ways people can overcome the winter blues. Seasonal depression […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
SLC diversity consultant’s advice on reviving the spirit of the summer BLM protests