Nate and Rob here. Like you, we’ve been watching in horror as our country has been falling to pieces. Racial tensions have reached a boiling point, and our ‘leadership’ has failed us. We’ve spent a lot of time digesting and trying to wrap our heads around the injustices that this country’s black population has endured. At this point, we’d like to share with you our thoughts about how we intend to be a part of much-needed change moving forward.
Most of the time, our focus is on changing the food system, but we understand that our position of privilege as a company affords us the ability to do much more than this. People don’t follow Urban Leaf because they want to learn about #BLM, but sitting passively on the sidelines and not taking a stand on the topic is precisely what got us into this mess. To be silent on this subject is not an option.
What follows is our three-stage plan that we will be undertaking in coming months. We don’t know yet where this journey will lead us, but what we do know is that it is better than the past we have come from. We invite you to be a part of this journey of change, and hold us accountable to what follows.
The first stage in our three-stage plan is to Understand – and honestly, we’re going to need a little time to do so.
Urban Leaf itself is a very small team. We (Nate and Rob) are the only two full-time employees and are joined by three others who work with us part-time (Yuko, Emily and Rosie).
Although we have the autonomy to implement whatever practices and policies we wish across our own team, the societal impact of doing so is fairly small, given our size. We recognize, however, that our ability to be a driver of change extends well beyond our own team.
- For starters, we have a social following of nearly 15,000 people. Amongst our core values as a company are transparency, equity, accessibility, and changing the world around us for the better. We understand how critical it is to stand up for what we believe in, and to lead by example.
- We also work with dozens of vendors, manufacturers and suppliers – who in aggregate employ thousands of people across not only multiple states, but also countries.
- Finally, we are a small part of a larger peer group of e-commerce companies, small businesses, and gardening brands. By setting a high bar in relation to our social and anti-racism standards, we can encourage others to stretch to new heights.
The truth is that right now we know very little about the anti-racism policies, diversity, and work-place practices of the thousands of people whom we indirectly rely upon to run our business. This is a shortcoming, and is something we intend to address.
In coming weeks, we will be asking all of our vendors, manufacturing partners and suppliers to complete a survey in order to help us better understand their workforce composition, the policies they already have in place, and their anti-racism initiatives.
Once we have collected some data on our indirect workforce, we will move on to Evaluating it. We need to form a baseline and understand the status quo before coming up with a plan for improving it.
It is entirely possible that some of our vendors, suppliers, and partners are more advanced than we are when it comes to anti-racism practices, as well as their diversity & inclusion policies. If so, perhaps we can learn from them, or adopt some of their best-practices ourselves.
It is also possible that some of our suppliers and vendors are further behind than they should be. This may present us with opportunities to engage with their management teams, and encourage them to evolve.
The final and most important stage of our three-part plan is Action. This is when we will publish tangible targets concerning our workforce composition. It will also be when we publish our first-ever Diversity & Inclusion Policy. We will invite you to hold us accountable to the targets we set, and changes that we commit to making.
We look forward to collaborating with fellow allies, BLM protestors, and the voices of change to ensure that we not only bequeath to future generations a happy and healthy planet with a food system capable of sustainably nourishing and feeding us, but also a world free from racism, police brutality, and oppression based purely upon the color of one’s skin.
We ask you to join our movement to Understand, Evaluate, and Act and welcome your feedback in the comments below as we together take this first step. Urban Leaf is committed to change, and firmly believe that we can all be a part of it.