Nothing changes if nothing changes.
Dear fellow humans—
Nothing changes if nothing changes.
DECIEM has always believed in science and truths. One of our colleagues wrote the below, which puts a scientific lens on how unjust it is, that a difference in our DNA make-up can still be used as a weapon of hurt.
“Melanin, chemical formula C18H10N2O4, molecular weight of 318 g/mol. A beautiful creation present in all human bodies, meant to protect our DNA, the instructions to everything that we are, from the damaging effects of UV radiation. A true gift, a miracle of adaptation allowing us to survive on earth, given in abundance to black people by means of geographical evolution.
Yet, this truly remarkable molecule has been a burden to you, black people. My ancestors used it to dehumanise you. Now, it is still used as an excuse to hurt you.
Yet, some pretend they don’t see it, colour. Fellow white people, saying you don’t see colour is doing the greatest disfavour to melanin itself as it is to the centuries of irreversible damage inflicted upon the Black community. The way forward is not to pretend you don’t see colour, but to see it and honour it, respect it, support it."
2020 is a landmark year. A year where we have all woken up to how we must no longer be silent about the changes we need in the world. If we want to see change, we must be actively focussed on it. To be not prejudiced is simply not good enough.
Whilst I hope DECIEM has always embraced diversity, I will now make sure we do far more than embrace. We must actively focus on those groups who have been disadvantaged in life, for simply being.
Over the last few weeks we have:
- Given all colleagues a paid day off to educate on racism, discrimination, and oppression
- Allowed paid time off to all colleagues for protesting
- Set up counselling sessions for all team members who are looking for support in relation to this topic or to process their experiences
- Conducted an internal survey to understand where our employees hope we can do better
- Opened our Instagram platform to amplify voices fighting for justice and equality
- Donated $100k across the NAACP Legal Defence & Educational Fund and Black Lives Matter
Our HQ is in Canada, and as such collecting the socio-demographic data of our global team has never occurred, as it is not a requirement like it is for US-based companies (with over 100 employees). I realise we must do better, and must actively seek this data so that we can be held accountable, but please be patient with us as we collect it, and respect our team members who don’t wish to disclose. We have always been very proud to celebrate our team, and although some of our faces are missing (but soon to be updated!), we would welcome anyone who wishes to see our beautiful make-up here: https://deciem.com/people
There are three of us at the C-level, we are one POC and two White humans. I lead side by side with Prudvi, our Chief Scientific Officer, who immigrated from Andhra Pradesh in India. Prudvi chose to come to Toronto in 2011, for the opportunity and diversity it offered, and we were very lucky he joined our journey shortly after. And Stephen, our Chief Operating Officer, who left South Africa with his wife in 1987 before apartheid was abolished, because they couldn’t live and raise a family in a country that institutionalized racism, and by government decree, allowed the white minority to prosper on the backs of the BIPOC majority.
Whilst we have strong diversity in our entire team, including Black representation in our Leadership team, we can and must do better in our senior positions. This is why we will be implementing mentorship and progression plans for all of our colleagues from diverse backgrounds, starting with our Black community, so that there are no glass ceilings for any human at DECIEM.
We are committed to meaningful, measurable change in the lives of our employees and in the communities where we operate. We will now work to take the following next steps:
- Create a new Inclusion Board which will be made up of representative employees across geographies, teams, levels, and demographics. This Inclusion Board will contribute to all plans and decision-making at DECIEM
- Hold listening forums with myself, Ashley our VP of People, and each diverse group at DECIEM to hear how we can better support
- Implement mandatory diversity training for all employees, including deeper bias and inclusion training for leadership
- Provide one to one counselling to all colleagues who have felt disadvantaged in life for simply being them
- Introduce a Community Fund of $120,000 this year that will empower our store teams to work with local grassroots organisations that support the Black Community
- Assess and diversify our Product Offerings, Suppliers, and Sales Channels, with the help of our new Inclusion Board
- Continue to offer paid time off for voting and protesting
- Become more intentional in our hiring practices and succession planning to increase the number of Black voices in our leadership team
- Formalise representation targets across all levels, with senior leadership as our top priority for change
- Develop a two-way mentorship programme, partnering senior leaders with BIPOC and other minority group employees for two-way mentorship
- Partner with a Toronto based organization to create internship and employment opportunities for BIPOC individuals
- Publish our Inclusion and Diversity progress yearly
- Enhance zero-tolerance anti-racism and anti-oppression agreements in contracts for all employees
- Assess diversity scorecards for all people leaders, as a part of their performance evaluations
- Introduce an anonymous feedback line for comments, concerns, and ideas
To everyone who has ever, or feels now, discriminated against or disadvantaged for being them, we are standing up and ready to fight alongside you.
To our colleagues, to our customers, to our suppliers, and to our partners. If you ever feel discriminated against in your interactions with DECIEM, or that we are not being true to our commitment of inclusion for all, I wish for you to come directly to me so I can make it my highest priority to correct. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Wishing strength to our world as we fight for permanent change together.