Over the past weeks, the Dôen leadership team has humbly embarked on self-education, committing ourselves to the immense learning -- and unlearning -- required of whiteness. We recognize that it is our responsibility to be an actively anti-racist company. Recently, we have been using our platform to educate, inform, and provide resources for direct action and engagement in challenging deeply embedded concepts and constructs (please see our saved BLM highlights on Instagram to view our Stories). We are dedicated to the continuation of such work, and to the use of our platform as a vehicle for insight and action.
The Black community deserves better from us. We have identified areas of short- and long-term accountability, and have committed to the following plans that we wish to share with our community.
Our Vendors and Partners
Since our launch, one of Dôen’s company values has been a commitment to closing the gender gap and advocating for gender equality. We have maintained long-term partnerships with organizations that support the education of young women and girls in the areas where we produce our product (Room to Read), as well as women’s access to respectful healthcare here in the States (Planned Parenthood LA). While our focus has been on gender equality, we now recognize that our approach did not allow for a deeper understanding of intersectionality and the ways in which Black women and girls are under-resourced, underfunded, and underrepresented in this country.
We will be adding a third long-term partner to specifically support Black women in our community and continue to actively contribute to anti-racist work, and will announce this new partner as soon as details are finalized. We will be reallocating our annual donations so that they will be divided evenly across these three organizations moving forward.
Following the lead of Aurora James’s 15% Pledge, we in turn pledge to partner with Black-owned businesses for at least 15% of all annual collaborations. Black artists will be regularly featured in our newly launched Artist-in-Residence program at our store location.
We are making a new commitment to partner with Black-owned vendors in our store and at our office and Distribution Center. We are reexamining our vendors and partners in order to divest from any corporations that donate to and fund pro-police and pro-prison industrial complex entities. Additionally, we are actively seeking out alternative local vendors and credit unions that are aligned with our company values.
Content and Creative
We are thoroughly examining our processes around the production of our creative content and campaigns, and want to acknowledge not only our past failures to represent diversity and size inclusivity, but also our failure to understand the scale and depth of white supremacy and its perpetuation via photography, location scouting, casting, and content creation. We are sorry for the harm we have caused. We have been complicit in propagating beauty standards heavily rooted in Euro-centric whiteness, and we are committed to change.
We have learned from past failings to acknowledge size inclusivity, as well as errors we have made regarding locations and casting steeped in white privilege. In our 2020 Resolutions, we committed to expanding our knowledge and range of perspectives and to making strides in our practices of inclusivity, diversity, and representation. We will continuously challenge preconceived notions of beauty, womanhood, and representation, and are reconfirming our dedication to the evolution of representation across our channels.
We will continue to partner with creatives of color in order to celebrate all women-identifying individuals.
Inclusive Hiring and Talent Retention
Dôen is an equal opportunity employer and is dedicated to constantly bettering our inclusion practices and cultivating a diverse community and workplace. We collectively celebrate differences in life experience, perspectives, self-expression, knowledge, and education as qualities that deepen our understanding, challenge the status quo, and make our company stronger. We are working with external HR consultants to help guide our hiring practices to increase diversity and eliminate areas of implicit bias.
Based on voluntary self-reporting from 72% of our management team, our executive and leadership team identifies as:
28% declined to self-report
33% declined to self-report
This isn’t good enough. We will do better. We have set goals for a more diverse team, as well as the development of a mentorship program and paid internships over the next 18 months. To make the necessary changes, we are actively networking with recruitment programs specifically created to place Black candidates. In 3 months, we will provide more details to our community regarding the programs we’ll be working with.
Internal Trainings and Guidance
Our leadership team has been in consultation with Dr. Akilah Cadet for the past year in order to develop employee resource groups (our three internal, employee-led committees), and will continue that partnership. With Dr. Cadet’s advisement, we will be offering regular training to our staff as well as opportunities for them to learn. We have compiled a list of educational resources for all employees, and would like to make this available to you here. We are providing our employees with additional tools, including online workshops, for educational and training purposes.
Each committee is budgeted for speakers and training, and our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee was thrilled to bring in social justice activist, author, and speaker Sonya Renee Taylor to speak to our staff in March. Our committee co-chairs have been appointed as advocates for staff, creating a safe place for voices to be heard and actions to be taken.
Our Supply Chain
A cornerstone of the Dôen brand mission is supporting women in the workplace and in the supply chain. We remain steadfastly committed to this: It is our guiding principle and North Star. We believe that today’s sustainability conversations, which have been centered around environmental impact, are crucial -- but have obscured the invaluable interconnectedness of environmental, economic, racial, and social justice. We commit the resources of our company to the practice of and the advocacy for ethical fashion, which addresses not only ecological and environmental impact but the interdependence of social justice and financial systems.
As we have navigated the impact of COVID-19 throughout the past few months, we have been dedicated to keeping our team safe and employed. As a clothing company with international vendors, we are inextricably linked to the employment of people around the world, and we have observed with heavy hearts as cancellations of orders from brands have caused humanitarian crises in the countries where they manufacture. We have continued a close dialogue with our overseas and domestic partners to ensure that their teams are paid and able to return to jobs. We have continued to pay our vendors in a timely manner, and refused to engage in leveraging.
We are working with our external consultant on implementation and evolution of our commitments, and setting clear timelines and benchmarks for each change. We plan to externally publish reports via email newsletter and on our website every 6 months to hold ourselves accountable to our commitments. We also want to encourage feedback: Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you should have any questions or ideas that you’d like to share.
The work of active anti-racism is not finite, and neither is this list: Progress must never stop, but increase in continued forward momentum internally, existentially, and interpersonally -- and we must always support Black lives.
See here for a list of anti-racist resources that we have found helpful.