Instagram hashtags pressure brands to fight racism but now it’s time for companies to take the reigns

WHAT HAPPENED: Instagram movements like #PullUpOrShutup and #PayUp have put pressure on hundreds of consumer companies to commit to fighting racial inequality through donations or diversification within their own organizations.

WHY IT MATTERS

Instagram has given audiences the ability to interact with brands more intimately, but now it’s up to companies to take advantage of this direct line of communication. Now that more consumers are pointing out brands’ shortcomings, there is increased pressure for companies to implement necessary changes. Needing to prod a traditional legacy player like Estée Lauder to enact large-scale change may not be surprising, but younger, more nimble brands, like digitally-native Glossier have little excuse, particularly as its entire business is built on cultivating community. Contrast this to Warby Parker, which posted a detailed breakout of its employee makeup on Instagram (8% of its corporate team is black) and thanked its followers for “holding them accountable.” While this put the brand in a vulnerable position, its candor speaks to the brand’s willingness to actively respond to calls for diversity. However, companies will need to stop relying on customer criticism to address societal problems in order to avoid permanent damage to their reputations.