At Yours Truly, Brooklyn and our sister store Greenlight Bookstore, we are making long-overdue spaces within our organization to actively discuss and implement the work we must do as individuals and as a business to be truly anti-racist. We are working to identify and correct the aspects of our store culture that have unfairly and unkindly affected Black people within our community.
To that end, we are making changes to our policies, procedures, and the ways in which we audit our practices to prioritize the creation of safe, anti-racist environments for our communities. There will be immediately corrective changes, as well as long-term plans, to focus on doing more and better for our Black communities. Here is what we're starting with, with updates about actions taken so far:
Policy Updates: We are rewriting our policies and training regarding customer interactions, removing poorly-developed directives to staff which have led to racial profiling. We will also thoroughly revise our Employee Handbook to include explicit policies against racial bias.
* Our Employeed Handbook is currently under review by management. We have created and implemented diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) best practices into training procedures for all new staff. We also updated our Code of Conduct to explicitly include anti-bias in our spaces. This code is posted and will be enforced in our stores, and we ask that all customers and staff come into our spaces with kind, equal, and fair treatment toward all in mind.
Anti-Bias Training: Our staff will participate in mandatory and formal anti-bias training before the end of this year, and we will incorporate it into our ongoing training for new and existing employees.
* Our first formal anti-bias training with all staff took place in September 2020. We hope to implement another round of training in 2021, specifically focused on the retail environment. In the meantime, we are implementing ongoing anti-bias training for customer service on the floor of our stores and in our communications.
Hiring: We will do a full review of our hiring and review practices and implement changes to decrease racial bias and increase diversity in hiring and management. This includes auditing the way we recruit, screen, shortlist, interview, and promote candidates, and ensuring these processes are not discounting or hostile to Black prospective and current employees.
* We revised our job posting and interview procedures, implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion standards as well as safeguards against bias in our most recent hiring process in Summer/Fall 2020 for all store locations. We are working to make sure new staff are actively supported in an environment where applicants and employees of color are respected, valued, and continually able to voice concerns.
Neighborhood Context: We will better educate employees about the neighborhoods and communities that our stores exist within and the effect gentrification has had on Black people in these neighborhoods, and make it a policy to engage in conversations about gentrification with our neighbors non-defensively.
* We have spoken with several neighborhood organizations about their experiences with us and opportunities for mutual support and improvement.
Feedback and Response: We will put safe, actionable structures in place for employee feedback that are consistent, non-threatening, and encourage continuously addressing instances of racism and prejudice that employees either experience or witness. We will respond more quickly to staff or management misconduct, both customer facing and peer-to-peer, which disproportionately leads to unfair and harmful treatment of Black people if ignored.
* We conducted a comprehensive, anonymous employee survey covering our company culture, safety policies and procedures, and anti-bias efforts, and continue to engage with staff's responses. We created and implemented an online reporting form for incidents of bias or other issues. We have made addressing bias and racism through transparency and feedback a key aspect of our Human Resources Manager position.
We will continue to hold ourselves accountable for these pledges. We are also open to feedback and welcome community engagement. If you would like to get in touch with us specifically about these issues, you can reach us at [email protected]. We will read every message. We commit as owners and managers to being more present in our business, to be aware of and address issues as they develop, and to respond as quickly and thoroughly as we are able.