Every month we like to share a recommendation from one of our ambassadors: something that inspires them in their responsible business work. This month we spoke to Charles Joly, Director of Responsible Business at Herbert Smith Freehills, who’s talking about race:
“As a white male, systemic racism and discrimination is often invisible to me, but speaking to Black and minority ethnic colleagues and friends I am very aware its effects can be felt daily with devastating consequences.
From personal experience, race can be a daunting and uncomfortable topic to engage with. Education has been key in helping me overcome this, gain a clearer understanding of the various shapes racism can take, and understand the role I can play in bringing change. I wanted to share some resources which helped me on my learning journey and being better equipped to start engaging in meaningful conversation with others on this important topic.
We all enjoy learning in different ways, so finding the right medium for you be it a book, a podcast, or a video can be helpful. Here I share a small selection to get you started:
- Ijeoma Oluo’s book So You Want to Talk About Race. While some aspects are more relevant to an American context, Ijeoma lays out in an easy to grasp way some basic concepts, from systemic racism to white privilege.
- Naga Munchetty’s BBC documentary Let’s talk about race and this two-part Race & Ethnicity podcast from ILX training provide powerful testimonies of lived experiences of racism in today’s Britain.
We all have a part to play in taking action for change on racism as individuals, but as important is for institutions and organisations to tackle the inequalities systemic racism has created in all aspects of life for people of colour: from education and the workplace, to healthcare and the justice system.
In 2020 Herbert Smith Freehills launched its global 10 actions for change to improve its own ethnic diversity as a law firm. And more recently we joined forces with other leading law firms and organisations to support the launch of the Black Equity Organisation in the UK, which aim to drive change in tackling systemic racism in our society and advance justice and equity for Black people.
So if you have not yet started your learning journey on race, now is the time to start, so you can make an impact for change tackling racism on a personal basis and within your organisation.”
Charles Joly is Director of Responsible Business at global law firm Herbert Smith Freehills. Charles has over 15 years’ experience delivering Environmental Social and Governance performance both as a consultant and in-house practitioner. He has led the development and implementation of award-winning sustainability and CSR programmes for diverse high-profile organisations with global scope including the National Health Service, the Bank of England, and the London School of Economics.