Did Blackout Tuesday impact corporate America? Data says yes.

On June 2nd, the online world — specifically that of Instagram — woke up to a flood of black squares on their feeds. (Over 28 million by 11:14 am, to be exact.) The photos were a part of Blackout Tuesday, a movement intended to show online support for the black community in the aftermath of George Floyd’s alleged murder.

While the sheer volume of participation caused a major disruption in the online world, not everyone felt that it was positive. Some called it “a social media trend that did nothing to provide real traction,” while others argued that it was drowning out black voices instead of amplifying them.

The questions that many people asked about Blackout Tuesday (Is this truly impactful? Is it causing real change? If so, what kind?) are crucial ones to ask about any form of activism, which is why, this week, we applied them to our own B2B data:

Did Blackout Tuesday impact corporate America — and if so, how?

Blackout Tuesday caused 614% Increase in Interest in Diversity Services

Diversity services are organizations that help companies foster and embrace diversity within their community, whether that means hiring a more diverse workforce, offering employee training programs, or hosting diversity-related events.

On the week of Blackout Tuesday, the amount of online research conducted by companies on Diversity Services increased by 614%.

Chart shows interest in diversity services between May 5-June 30, 2020.
Figure 1: Companies’ interest in the topic of “Diversity Services” jumped on the week of Blackout Tuesday.

Two weeks later, the interest dipped, but then steadily rose again to land at a 1,033% overall increase by the end of the month.

This interest in Diversity Services Group, while most recently catalyzed by Blackout Tuesday, seems to be indicative of a larger corporate trend, given the overall rise of diversity and inclusion execs in the past five years. Diversity recruiting firms could be playing an integral role in what’s helping to change the corporate landscape.

“If you have diverse employees but they do not feel included or valued, you will not retain them,” diversity recruiter Debbie Chang told the Washington Business Journal. “Diversity is getting invited to the dance. Inclusion is making sure everyone is dancing.”

Did Blackout Tuesday also bring attention to gender inequality?

Interestingly enough, Blackout Tuesday may have also had the unintended effect of generating interest in gender inequality.

The week of the event, online research conducted on the topic of “Women Empowerment” increased by 406%.

Chart shows interest in women empowerment between May 5-June 30, 2020.
Figure 2: Companies’ interest in the topic of “Women Empowerment” spiked on the week of Blackout Tuesday, then quickly plummeted again.

While the interest was not sustained, the timing of the sudden spike suggests that Blackout Tuesday may have played a role.

Chart shows interest in gender gap and women empowerment between May 5-June 30, 2020.
Figure 3: Companies’ interest in the topic of “Gender Gap” rose steadily on the week of Blackout Tuesday, but increased dramatically about a month after.

Additionally, research on the topic of “Gender Gap” saw an increase of 555% about a month after Blackout Tuesday, which calls into question whether or not the Black and White Photo Challenge — which was beginning to emerge by then — was partially responsible.

Is this change real or perceived?

When it comes to activism on social media, raising questions about the intentionality, sincerity, and impact of each act of support is an integral part of the process. The same is true for corporate diversity initiatives.

“Just because a diverse employee has a seat at the table does not mean they have influence at the table,” says Aaron Copeland, Founder and CEO of Alignstaffing. “Employers need to be intentional and to listen to the people they are pulling up a seat for.”

As more and more companies begin to prioritize diversity, it is clear that the demand for change has, at the very least, been heard. Only time will tell who’s really been listening.