I know it now like I’ve never known it before: the vast amount of privilege I have as a white woman, and how I’ve fallen short as a business owner.
I look at my client roster over the last 12 years and see a sea of overwhelmingly white faces. The same goes for my internal team.
I think of my 6-year-old biracial daughter and know that, if she was just a few years older, she would look at my Kudos page and ask, “Why don’t you help women that look like me?” It breaks my heart, gives me deep shame, and lights a fire under me like nothing I’ve experienced before.
I am here for diversity. I am here for equity. I am here for inclusivity. I am here to stand up, speak out, and create change both personally and professionally. I am here to serve the BIPOC women who I have been excluding for so long.
And yet: I promise not to hide my shortcomings from my daughter. I promise not to take the actions I outline below and pretend that this is what it’s been like all along. I promise to tell her about the white faces of my clients, internal team, and referral lists in 2020 and take ownership of it all.
I stand with Black lives and am working on going from Ally – where I stand in support but risk nothing – to Accomplice, where I use my privilege to change the status quo.
Trainings, workshops, podcasts, daily action steps, and anti-racist books are now a part of my life. I meet biweekly with two of my white peers to discuss and dissect what we’re learning, set our own goals and plans, and hold each other accountable. I share this not to pat myself on the back or to try to earn a gold star, but to show you that this is a high-level priority, and I am determined to walk my talk.
There is so much I don’t know. There is so much I need to learn.
I’m committed to going further into anti-racist work on an ongoing basis, actively creating and changing policies to reflect all I’m learning. With that, I now have a Zero Tolerance policy for hate speech in any group I run. These include – but are not limited to – statements that are racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic. Microaggressions, tone policing, name-calling, gossip, and bullying are also not permitted. I’ve added these terms to my contracts as well as the policies within my current groups.
As of August 27th, 2020, I pledge to:
- continuously consume Black media, having it account for at least 30% of what I read, watch, and listen to.
- take inventory of where I spend my money both as a business owner and in my personal life. I’ll complete that by November 1st, and from there, I’ll set a goal to incrementally increase my spendings every year with Black-owned businesses until I hit at least 30%.
- make my anti-racist learnings ongoing, taking at least 1 course and reading at least 4 books every year. I will keep up with my biweekly meetings and will make time for the “homework” in between.
- create relationships with BIPOC copywriters, developers, designers, coaches, and marketers so I can add them to my referral lists for my clients. I’d like the people on my referral lists to be at least 15% BIPOC by the end of the year, and 30% BIPOC by the end of 2021.
- have my clients sign their contract with a Zero Tolerance policy for hate speech, and put these guidelines in every community I run so there is no confusion as to where I stand and what occurs when this happens.
- take my internal team from 0% BIPOC to 15% BIPOC by the end of 2021, and 30% BIPOC by the end of 2022. When I need a new hire, I will actively seek BIPOC candidates and make sure they make up at least half of my interviewees.
- when asked to be on a podcast, speak at an event, or take part in a summit, I will ask how many BIPOC women have been asked or interviewed. If it’s not at least 30%, I won’t agree to appear there and I’ll recommend a BIPOC business coach in my place.
- as I continue my own education, I want to increase the BIPOC women I serve by 10% each year, so that they make up 50% of my clients by 2025. My highest priority, however, is creating a safe and inclusive space for them where they will not experience harm. If I don’t feel I am up to the task, I will hire a Black DEI coach or facilitator to join my team and serve my clients in this space.
- make a monthly task to update this page so I can remain transparent with my goals, actions, and results. I know there’s much that I don’t know, so I also want to remain open in updating the goals here as I learn, grow, and find even more of the gaps in my knowledge. I’ll also send biannual reports to my newsletter list with my updates and stats.
As of December 1st, 2020, I have:
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi (education)
- Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward (fiction)
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown (memoir)
- The Vanishing Half and The Mothers by Brit Bennett (fiction)
- So You Wanna Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo (education)
- We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby (memoir/humor)
- I May Destroy You by Michaela Coel (HBO dramedy series)
- When They See Us by Ava DuVernay (Netflix drama)
- listened to
- Nice White Parents (podcast)
- 1619 (podcast)
- That’s Not How That Works (podcast)
- Code Switch (podcast)
- added to my referral list
- Mari Brands for You (personal branding & LinkedIn)
- Tech Biz Girl (side hustle mentor)
- L’Erin Alta (mystic + medicine woman)
- Coach Tiko (holistic business coach)
- She Went for Her Dreams (business mentoring + coaching for women of color)
- Jasmine & Co., Frances Grace, The Posh Organization (VAs)
- Tracy Barbour (Squarespace designer/developer)
- Joi Knows How (community + shop for multi-passionates)
- Fireflower Candle Company (candles for Black culture)
- bought from Black-owned businesses
- ongoing Patreon member for That’s Not How That Works podcast and Nicole Cardoza’s Anti-Racist Daily
- Morgan Harper Nichols’ beautiful book All Along You Were Blooming, and copies for some friends
- Shine meditation app – premium annual subscription
- client gifts from Joi Knows How
- art from Sharee Miller and Vashti Harrison
- signed petitions that Nicole Cardoza pointed to in her emails
- highlighted Black-owned businesses on my Instagram feed
- gave a one-question survey to my current clients to note how they identify, with the results showing 35%
- added a question on race and identity to my contact form for all my new clients coming in
- hired 2 new freelancers, bringing my team BIPOC percentage from 0% to 25%, which reaches my 2021 goal.
- took inventory on my 2021 business expenses and how many of them have BIPOC owners. I’m projecting to spend 44% of my expenses on BIPOC people or companies, and have a system in place that will continue to track this automatically.
- researched webinar platforms and asked the 3 I was considering for their BLM statements and internal DEI initiatives. It became very clear which one to sign up with, ethically.
I know that this pledge is imperfect. I know I will make mistakes – I’m sure there are some above. But I don’t want that to stop me from speaking up and moving forward.
Please know that the door is always open for you to ask me questions, hold me accountable, offer me feedback, and engage me in difficult conversations. I’m here for your referrals and recommendations as well. You can always reach me directly by hitting reply to any email I send you, emailing email@example.com, or DMing me on Instagram @WhenIGrowUpCoach.
Thank you for standing with and by me during this important time in our history. I vow to do better.