A foreword from our founder:
In the midst of all the chaos around the world, there are small victories we need to celebrate.
Yesterday, I spoke to my best friend Shanika who told me she was preparing for a meeting with the CEO of the company she works at. Why? She wanted discuss how she feels as a Black woman working for a global luxury retailer, how under represented the Black community is and how the company can take meaningful steps to support their Black employees present and future in support of Black Lives Matter.
A few hours later, she had established the Black Employees Forum and the company had posted it on their socials, committing to their word.
I am so fortunate to have such a beautiful, strong and brave woman in my life and so proud to call her my best friend. Read Shanika's story below on she used her voice to fight for injustice.
“Sometimes you have to be the change you want to see”
As many of us have seen on the news and Social media, protests have broken out worldwide in support of Black Lives Matter. This has taken place after footage of the horrendous murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers has been viewed by millions.
As a Black woman, my heart breaks due to the injustices people who look like me face. For many of us the reality is that the fight against racism has become part of our everyday lives. Whether it be dealing with a microaggression from a colleague, or googling if it is okay for black people to travel to a certain city before taking a trip, we are exhausted.
Working within the fashion industry you do not have to look far to see the lack of representation within leadership teams of global companies or employees within their head offices. This week we have been overwhelmed on social media by companies posting black squares and Black Lives Matter posts, but my question is, do black lives really matter internally?
Whilst the company I work for released a statement on Monday standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, more needed to be done internally. Black people are underrepresented across my company, especially amongst the leadership team. So to evoke change I called for a Black Employees Forum to be established. The aim of this was to enable black voices to be amplified and ensure that we have a seat at the table, where open and honest conversation can lead to the equal, fair treatment and representation of all employees.
To get the ball rolling I emailed my HR department, to ask for a conversation around what they intended to do to show solidarity to their black employees. I also questioned the historical discrimination and mistreatment of black employees. This then lead to a conversation with my CEO, where he listened and myself and two black colleagues educated him on the black experience within the company.
I am so proud to say that this then resulted in an internal communications email that was sent to every employee, with an open letter from me. This has now marked the start of the Black Employee Forum within my company and a push for diversity. The company has now released a further statement on Instagram to give clear, concise and tangible ways of how they will be using this movement to drive more representation across the board. They will be held accountable as the have pledged to release an annual breakdown of colleagues at different levels of seniority by ethnic background.
If you are black and feel as though your company needs to do more to support you, please do not be afraid to step out, speak up and ask for the change you want/need to see.
For those of you who are not black, please ensure that you are educating yourself! Use your privilege so that you are an ally for the black community not just online but in real life!
Love, Shanika Anderson x