Diversity and Inclusion is not just inviting people into the room or providing a seat at the table. Brene’ Brown’s interview with Aiko Bethea in November 2020not only confirmed what I’ve always felt, but it helped me articulate in my own writing the issues of racism, unconscious bias, privilege and exclusion.
Not only have I tackled the big issues in gender inequality, the gender suicide gap and mental health but the sustainability of our environment and a cleaner organic life has remained a constant priority.
More recently I started producing a sustainability podcast with Environmentalist and Marine Scientists, Sarah-Jo Lowbein.
In my research I found Shannon Lohr from Factory45, a sustainable fashion curator and thought leader. She lives and works in the United States yet mentors people who have sustainable fashion ideas, around the world. She has weathered the severity of the Covid19 pandemic, a dynamic election and the civil unrest that champions BLM. She wrote an insightful blog that is a proactive and offers a practical and personal action that promotes your values regarding diversity and inclusion. During my interview with her for the SO Shire Sustainability Podcast Series she shared her two big issues that influenced her decisions to live more sustainably.
- Farming and Manufacturing process of meat products and goods.
- Slavery. ‘We have 27 million slaves on this planet, people in countries who do not engage in ethical employment.’ This is where manufacturers take advantage of the ‘cheap or free labour’ industries and in particular the fashion which predominantly employ women, making it a gendered and racism issue.
Shannon honestly shares that engaging an EDI coach for her business shone a light on her own business blindspots. “I don’t think we can ever know what it’s like for black people, they have been dealing with this systemic issue for centuries.”
Her research and awareness is having an impact. She actively employed a women of colour to produce her Podcast – The Clean Living Podcast and in the first month of her sustainability fashion online course she gives her students an assignment that explores EDI from the very beginning, in the idea stage.
If your’e not quite sure how Racism Impacts on the Fashion Industry, read here,
So below, I wanted to share how Shannon encourages you to take action and invites you to share your own statement. You can also find her blog by clicking here.
BY SHANNON LOHR
As I’ve been listening and learning over the past months, BIPOC leaders have been asking brands to come forward with a public anti-racism statement.
This is something that can be viewed on your website, as one way to stand in alliance with Black people and People of Color.
It’s a commitment to building and maintaining an anti-racist business.
One of the most important parts of this request is for the statement to be made thoughtfully, knowing that the words are nothing without action.
- How will you reallocate funds to Black-owned businesses?
- How will you diversify your team and ensure Black representation?
- How will you represent Black Folx in your marketing and branding, without perpetuating tokenism?
These questions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating a more equitable brand.
Shannon has shared two calls to action for her fellow business owners and Factory45’ers today:
1.) Create your own statement and publish it publicly on your website (if you haven’t already). My statement is above the footer of my website if you scroll down. Feel free to use the words to make it your own, as mine is an adaptation from Rachel Rodger’s Anti-racist Small Business Pledge found here.
*It goes without saying, but the actions are more important than the words. This is not a marketing tactic or a branding opportunity, rather it’s a way to hold your business accountable to the commitment you’re making.
2.) If you haven’t made it a priority to reevaluate your business and how it can be more inclusive and diverse, then I have a free exercise for you here. It was inspired and guided by another DEI consultant Erica Courdae.
This public declaration is one step.
It’s one small thing we can do to ignite change.
And there’s no question that the world needs it.
And just like you I found this when I recently started producing a sustainability podcast with Environmentalist and Marine Scientists, Sarah-Jo Lowbein.
Sarah Jo is a passionate eco-warrior, co founder of SO Shire, a collective of local groups, individuals and businesses in the Sutherland Shire working towards environmental goals, including single use plastic reduction. You’ll find her on the beach, picking up plastic ear cleaners or scuba diving monitoring the habits of our native marine life.
Why I am sharing this is because Sarah Jo has a great philosophy in ‘doing what you can.’ What we all know is that when we know better, we do better and that can be in every area of our life.
If you would like to know more or what you can do to encourage inclusion and diversity, reach out and follow other thought leader like Tommy , who has developed an adaptive range which was launched in the US in 2016 for children with disabilities and extended to adult clothing last year. This social responsibility continues to be extended across other avenues of business.
Social Responsibility and Sustainability are values admired by loyal clients and develop trust and respect with customers.
Just sharing the words is a the first step – making the decisions and taking action will provide social proof. If you would like help forming up an impactful, EDI statement for your company or business, get in touch with the WordStyler.