Actions > Words

Mary Alice Duff

Posted on June 22 2020

Last week the Alice Alexander team came together to discuss the small business anti-racist pledge and the myriad of ways in which we can build an anti-racist company culture. As it's not enough to SAY Black Lives Matter, we must start to live and act as if they DO. 

As a small business with limited resources, initially what came up for me was scarcity, what can my small business possibly do to fight racism. And this is the trick of white supremacy. The patriarchy and white supremacy will have us believe in scarcity. That our wealth, our knowledge, our resources are earned and finite, and that to share them is at our own detriment. This is what keeps our inequitable systems upheld--this belief that we are all fighting over a single pie, and that if you someone were to get more, you'd be left with less. So we hoard what we have.  Resisting that urge is like fighting against the current, but when you come up for air, the possibilities of what our work could look like suddenly feels endless. 

At Alice Alexander we will approach our  anti-racism work with abundance. That we do have wealth to share, that there is room at the table for all and that by living into the actions below we will make our company and our community a more just and inclusive place.

Here are the action items my team and I have agreed to:

1. Committing to individual and group anti-racism education: The team agreed to select a new anti-racism book to read each quarter. We'll create an online space that we can utilize to discuss our thoughts, feelings and other issues that come up while reading. We've committed to regular and ongoing anti-racism training with a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion trainer. 

2. Incorporating explicit anti-racism, diversity, inclusion and equity language into our company values: It occurred to us that as a fairly new small business, we haven't actually taken the time to explicitly state what our core values are (even though we know what they are). Over the next few weeks we'll be working to clearly define and articulate those so that it's clear to our community, stakeholders and employees where we stand. This language will send a signal to those that shop with us and those who want to work with us that these are our non-negotiables. 

4. Improving our recruiting practices to attract and retain diverse talent: We will utilize a variety of hiring sites to attract a diverse pool of applicants. Philadelphia is an extremely diverse city so "not being able to find" diverse talent simply isn't an excuse.

5. Working towards a goal of investing 30% of our annual budget into the Black community by end of 2021: We analyzed our 2019 budget and found that 9.6% of our total expenses were invested in the Black community. Reviewing our 2020 spending, we anticipate that this year we can invest 17% of our total budget in the Black community. With a goal of increasing this to 30% by end of 2021. 

6. Redistributing our resources: as a three-person, all-white team we decided that it was time we redistribute some of our resources. Our company will donate $20,000 worth of pro-bono plus-size pattern development and small business consultation to Black-owned businesses between July 1 and December 31. More details forthcoming! 

7. Leveraging the strength of our incredible community to raise funds each month for a variety of organizations benefiting the Black community. More details soon! 

As my team and I work through the aforementioned actions we will share what we're learning and how we are doing. This work will never be done, but I am my team are committed for the long haul. 


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