To our Dôen Community,
Over the last six months, we have increased our efforts on both immediate actionable steps to improve our practices as well as building thoughtful foundations and setting goals for the next year and beyond. Our cross-departmental leadership team meets bi-weekly to track all initiatives, hold ourselves accountable to our commitments, and share new ideas around how to evolve to be an innovator in inclusivity and company culture; simultaneously, our employee-led resource group for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging meets monthly to discuss opportunities for furthering our inclusion efforts and employee education. We recognize that this work is critical to upholding our company values and ethos -- and to creating a workplace and community that is compassionate, integrous, equitable, and actively anti-racist.
Our Vendors and Partners
First and foremost, we are excited to announce our long-term partnership with Kindred Space LA and their non-profit branch, Birthing People Foundation. As a community-supported birth center in South Los Angeles, offering home birth midwifery, doula support, lactation education, and more, Kindred Space LA has worked towards training more than 200 birth workers of color. Birthing People Foundation is raising funds to support the first Black-owned birth center in Southern California with the aim of combatting the historically disproportionate maternal mortality rate of Black women in the United States. Founded by two Black midwives -- Kimberly Durdin, CPM, LM, IBCLC and Allegra Hill, CPM, LM, IBCLC -- Birth Center LA is dedicated to creating a safe birthing home for parents and babies of color, and ending systemic racism and implicit bias in the healthcare system for people of color and LGBTQ+ communities. Kindred Space LA and Birthing People Foundation join Room to Read and Planned Parenthood LA as our third continuous partner, and as published in June, we are recommitting to reallocating our annual donations to be divided equally amongst these three organizations.
Last year, we donated upwards of $20,000 to Black Lives Matter LA, Kindred Space LA and Birthing People Foundation, and the New Georgia Project; this is in addition to our annual donations to Room to Read and Planned Parenthood LA, as well as our contributions to Border Angels through our drive.
We have researched our financial relationships extensively, and have opted to open an account for a new banking relationship with a local, Black-owned institution, Broadway Federal Bank, that will house our sales tax dollars. Since 1947, Broadway Federal Bank has been serving their communities -- and recently announced plans to merge with Washington, D.C.’s City First Bank, a Black-led financial institution committed to community development. As these tax dollars eventually serve our local government, we deeply believe in the significance of keeping these finances local and available to underserved communities to help them build wealth through a strong, dedicated, and Black-owned financial institution.
Since June, we have also committed our resources to partnerships and collaborations with Black-owned businesses to maintain a minimum of 15% representation, including floral arrangements in our store, artwork for our postcards, and third party products that we carried for the holiday season. In 2020, 23.5% of our partnerships were with Black-owned businesses or artists.
As part of our reexamination of suppliers for our office headquarters, store, and Distribution Center, we have divested from U-Line due to their history of supporting political candidates and efforts that are grossly misaligned with our company values, such as their assailment of transgender rights and worker’s rights. We are also in the process of transitioning to a Black- and female-owned coffee distributor, while maintaining relationships with a brokerage whose owners identify as female and minority, and minority-owned freight forwarder and cleaning companies. Last month, we launched returns with Returnly in anticipation of eventually shifting some of our shipping to USPS and supporting this critical public operation.
Content and Creative
We have continued to pursue the development of a more diverse, inclusive, and representative Dôen community in our content and creative output -- as well as in our behind the scenes team, from photographer to caterer to prop stylist. In 2020, we have maintained an average of 60% gifting to self-identified BIPOC recipients and content creators; our goal for 2021 is to create standardized compensation for these efforts. We have actively worked towards casting more Black models for our campaigns and content, as well as featuring Black women and Black-owned businesses on our Journal. It is our responsibility -- and our commitment to our community -- to continue to center Black voices, enterprises, and experiences in our content, and to reflect, respect, and represent the abundance of beauty, diversity, and humanity in our shared world.
Inclusive Hiring and Talent Retention
As published in September in our Hiring Update, we are now posting jobs on the college recruitment platform Handshake; specifically, we are using this resource to recruit from four HBCUs with Fashion Degree programs: Bowie State University, Clark Atlanta University, Cheyney University, and Howard University. In addition, we are posting open positions with LA Trade Tech and Indeed.com under their Diversity Initiative, and are thrilled to join Black in Fashion Council’s job board as well as the CFDA diversity platform for recruitment in Spring 2021.
We have holistically revised our company values, mission, and handbook; notable edits include a core value specific to anti-racism and allyship, and a new policy regarding hair discrimination, and a company-wide observance of Juneteenth. These core values for hiring and career development are now included on all job descriptions and discussed in all interviews.
We have comprehensively reviewed and worked to solve gaps in our hiring practices, and identify initiatives to dismantle bias in the hiring process. This includes the creation of a hiring panel of 3-4 rotating employees of varying title levels and departments; interview and hiring training available to all employees; posting jobs internally to encourage and nurture career development and expand opportunities for growth from within Dôen; and the rewriting and standardizing of our job descriptions, interview questions, and interview projects to better reflect our values and unbiased practices. New team members will have a chance to meet with a Culture and Values independent contractor to review the hiring process experience, and offer any ideas for improvement or innovation.
In order to center employee feedback and encourage year-round dialogue, we have updated our internal review processes with the aim of giving employees more opportunity to review goals, voice any concerns, and receive mentorship from their manager. We have also created various new avenues and opportunities for employees to report any concerns to management or HR, and methods for anonymous reporting.
We are implementing a semi-annual, confidential employee survey in order to better understand, analyze, and improve company culture. We are particularly focused on gathering insights from our team on their experiences with diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging within the company.
We have created an internal mentorship program and we are actively searching for the right partner. We hope to share more details soon!
Lastly, as our team has grown and shifted over the past 3 months, so has our voluntary self-reporting regarding self-identification. As of January 5, 2021, and based on voluntary self-reporting from approximately 67% of our management team, our executive and leadership team identifies as:
0% declined to self-report
21% declined to self-report
For our next 6-month update, we are committed to reporting the voluntary self-identification breakdown of our team for all layers of the organization. We are looking forward to continuing our work with both Black in Fashion Council and Dr. Akilah Cadet on improving hiring and recruiting processes, as well as our own workplace environment as we strive for a culture of inclusivity, belonging, and community for all team members.
Internal Training and Guidance
We are currently establishing a budget for 2021 for internal anti-racism training and meeting with Black-owned consultants and businesses for scheduling company-wide training. Our goal is for all managers to receive both non-discrimination and unconscious bias training in 2021 and continue bi-annually, as well as to provide non-discrimination training to all new hires upon their start with Dôen.
We are thrilled to have signed the Black Fashion Council pledge, alongside many other brands, as a part of our commitment to securing the advancement of Black individuals in the fashion industry. This three-year agreement with the BIFC will enable us to work closely with their Executive Board members and their partner, Human Rights Campaign, who will provide feedback, insight, and counsel on our ever-evolving inclusivity plans. We are thrilled to be working with the Council towards meaningful change.
We are also allocating a budget for our employee-led resource groups -- including Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging -- to bring in speakers throughout 2021.
Our Supply Chain
We are proud that, despite the incredible challenges and hardships of 2020, we have remained committed to our close partnerships with our international vendors, and refused to undermine our relationships by neglecting to pay for their impeccable and thoughtful production of our designs. We are conscious of our inextricable link to workers around the world -- the majority of whom are women; we are also hyper-attuned to the compounding crises of COVID-19 and its impact on food insecurity, precarity, and women in the workforce. We have continued to pay our vendors in full and on time throughout this year.
While hindered greatly by the pandemic in 2020, we have also been able to make small steps towards a more ethical future: We are continuing development on a compostable, toxicity-free alternative to poly bags for a transition in 2021, and we are beginning to transfer our production of any branded sticker in our packaging and store to an eco-version that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council for its ethically sourced materials from a responsibly managed forest. We have also continued to increase our responsible fabric integration into our collections, from organic cotton to our first recycled yarns, while setting deadlines for phasing out fabrics that are not meeting our standards of responsibility: This year, in spite of obstacles, we offered 26% of all cotton assortment in organic cotton and organic cotton blends and 36% of all knits in recycled yarns -- and we are setting goals for higher percentages in our assortment moving forward. Additionally, we are publishing a CA Supply Chain Transparency and Modern Slavery statement in 2021.
While we are leading multifaceted initiatives in order to make our apparel more eco-conscious and responsible, we do not make a claim to be a “sustainable brand.” We know that the true net impact of manufacturing apparel -- from agriculture to textile manufacturing to sewing to distribution and all the steps in between -- is nearly impossible to measure. We strongly believe that “sustainability” is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and will require the amalgamation of progress amongst several sectors, from supply chain to marketing. Perhaps most importantly, we find the claim of “sustainable” to be at best genuinely misconstrued and misleading -- and, at worst, conscious greenwashing for marketing purposes. However, to remain innovators in this space -- continuing the research and implementation of technology and resources at our disposal to create the most comprehensive approach to sustainable solutions whenever and wherever applicable -- we know that we will have to work collectively to improve our practices and find new ways to engage responsibly in design, retail, and the creation of apparel. With this in mind, we are hiring a Director of Sustainability & Compliance in 2021 to spearhead these efforts.
Our work continues, and our next report, combined with an update on our upcoming 2021 Resolutions, will be published in 6 months on our website and in our email newsletter -- and hopefully, this integrated reporting will enhance our collective understanding of the intersectionality of racial, environmental, social, and economic justice. We urge feedback from our community; any questions or ideas can be sent to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are looking forward to continuing to share our progress with you!
Find our Anti-Racism Accountability statement, first published in June, here - and our 3-month Hiring Update here. See here for a list of informational anti-racism resources and organizations to support.