Pathways to Racial Equity

Accountability Report - May 2021 Update

Please note: The following report deals with whiteness, anti-Blackness, and racism.

The title of this report, Pathways to Racial Equity, was in large part inspired by
East Fork's page on equity. Their work with The Adaway Group led us to discover Desiree Adaway's teachings and workshops, which the team has engaged with. We want to acknowledge and thank these two organizations for their models for accountability.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Hiring & Talent Retention
  • Content & Creative
  • Partners & Vendors
  • Community & The Lounge
  • Internal Policies, Training, & Guidance
  • Giving Back & Fundraising
  • Feedback
  • Dictionary of Terms

Introduction

At Girls’ Night In, we acknowledge that we have much work to do across all parts of our business in the pursuit of racial equity*, diversity, and inclusion.


We are a WOC-owned business** that creates content and products with the goal of helping our audience find ideas and recommendations for downtime. In our work, we acknowledge that regardless of intention, we have at times failed to uphold values of diversity and inclusion — that is, ensuring there is diverse representation in how and what we create, and ensuring our content helps our readers feel seen and like they belong. We have made mistakes and missteps, and must correct these.


As a for-profit business with a majority white staff, we also recognize our own role in perpetuating systems of oppression, structural racism, and upholding white dominant culture. We are committed to openly questioning these systems in which we operate and to actively working towards racial equity internally in our company’s makeup, policies, and practices, as well as how we create our content and products. We also recognize the tensions inherent in building and growing a for-profit business and commit to working through these.


We are not and will not be perfect, and we humbly acknowledge that we will continue to make mistakes. We’re committed to the lifelong process of reflecting, learning, and taking action that this work of racial equity entails, and to learning to integrate new (to us) lenses of understanding the world around us and the needs of our communities alongside actionable shifts in how we create and build the business. 


To be held accountable to this important work, we conducted a company-wide audit in June 2020 and again in March 2021 to identify where we have fallen short and where we have room to be more equitable. We will now be publishing a regular report on our website every six months on our efforts towards racial equity. We also remain grateful to those readers who performed additional emotional labor and gave feedback to better our company; this feedback has also been incorporated into our action plans. 


Below we've outlined how we will work towards racial equity across our business, and what actions we have taken as a company to-date. There is a lot more work to be done: as such, we've identified a clear 6-month action plan and long-term opportunities for change.


*Equity can mean many things. As a team, we have identified racial equity specifically as an area of focus for our ongoing work mentioned in this report. By this, we will continue to ask ourselves, “Does everyone of all racial/ethnic backgrounds have what they need to thrive?” and examine all parts of the business using this lens. We understand racial equity is simply a starting place and that other forms of equity are important. Having this specific starting point, lens, and shared language will provide our team with focus on the path to equity.


**Founder/CEO Alisha Ramos is Asian and Latina.


Introduction

Since our first report in May 2021, our team has met at least once per month to discuss, debrief, and strategize actionable steps on topics of racial equity as it relates to our content, business, and team. Our humble work is put into a sharp context when thinking about all that has transpired (and not transpired) in our society since we put out the first report:  COVID-19 is still disproportionately straining the well-being of communities of color in many areas; the overall cultural conversation in the US and globally on historic racial injustices continues; and the lack of diverse representation in many industries still continues. The resources and recognition for entrepreneurs and small businesses run by people of color similarly remains dismal when compared to those run by their white counterparts. (As I am writing this, the Emmy’s have just concluded, and a measly number of awards were granted to Black actors, creators, and producers, even though people of color comprised forty-four percent of the nominees.)


As a small business, we recognize our responsibility to do our part to challenge these structural inequities that we continue to see, starting with our own work in content and media.  As part of this work, the team and I have continued to make progress towards the 6-month action items we laid out in our initial report; you’ll see the full details of our action plan in full below. As you’ll see, for the sake of transparency with our readers, not all of our action items were able to be completed; we’ve clearly noted the status of said action items to provide clarity.


Overall, this has been a productive exercise in seeing what our team can realistically achieve (or not achieve) in this period of time. This practice also clarified for us the areas that need more intentional strategizing and work (for example, our giving-back strategy) rather than a quick launch, which might result in us being less thoughtful in our approach than is our goal. Undergoing this work has only solidified my and our understanding that this work isn’t easy or fast. It requires ongoing dedication, active conversations, and learning from our mistakes (and from feedback from our readers), and acceptance that sometimes, especially when it comes to something as important as racial equity, there just might not be glaringly “right” or easy answers for each and every task and each and every question — but we’ll continue to try our very best.


I’m looking forward to continuing the necessary work to improve how diverse, inclusive, and truly representative of our readership both our team and content are, and I know this is just the beginning and that we have a long way to go. While 2020 was an eye-opening year for us, there’s clearly still a lot to be done. I’m hopeful that with patience and persistence, we’ll continue to make positive changes and improvements to create stronger and more inclusive content and products for our audience.


If you have any questions, thoughts, or feedback, know that we appreciate your time and energy, and we want to hear from you. Our community is stronger, and more able to battle internal, unconscious bias, when we all contribute. Please feel free to reach out at hello@girlsnightin.co.


Alisha Ramos

Founder, Girls’ Night In


Hiring & Talent Retention

Current Team Makeup

Our company currently employs 8 full-time staff, including our CEO/Founder. The below data is based on voluntary self-reporting from a June 2020 survey, with 100% participation from the team, when we employed 7 full-time staff. This information is not inclusive of extended staff, such as consultants, contractors, or interns. Data is surveyed based on EEOC adherent categories.

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  • 100% women 

--

  • African-American/Black: 0.00%
  • American Indian/Alaskan Native: 0.00%
  • East Asian: 14.29%
  • Hispanic/Latinx: 28.57%
  • Middle Eastern: 0.00%
  • Pacific Islander: 0.00%
  • South Asian: 0.00%
  • Southeast Asian: 28.57%
  • White: 71.43%


From this data, it is evident that we have a majority white team. A key takeaway is that we must revisit our recruitment and hiring practices and make changes to ensure the process is equitable. What worked for us as a fledgling startup (that is, looking within our own networks for hiring, and fast-tracking part-time staff into full-time roles), does not work if we are to build a truly diverse team. To work against systemic racism and to build a more equitable future, we must examine and rebuild our own systems, and take a more critical lens to when we may represent white dominant culture.


Recruitment & Hiring Practices

Over the prior six months, we have tackled the following areas in recruitment and hiring with the goal of decreasing conscious and unconscious bias wherever possible in the recruitment and interview process. If we are to build a diverse team, we must take a critical look at our hiring practices.


Actions taken:

  • We developed an interview process for full-time hires, with details on how to recruit and how to develop an interview rubric.
  • We invested in recruitment software, allowing for greater transparency across the organization on our recruiting pipeline, and encourage our existing staff to refer a diverse pool of potential candidates.
  • For our most recent full-time position opening, we invested in Black and POC-centered job boards and professional organizations’ job boards, and increased an effort in personalized outreach to Black and POC candidates. Hiring for this role is currently on hold.
  • In order to avoid any unfair negotiation, we now have a standard policy of hiring managers sharing transparent salary bands with candidates at the first step of the interview process, typically the phone interview stage.


Compensation & Pay Equity Practices

While hiring is important, it is also important to provide employees with what they need to thrive at the company once they are employed. Too often, “diversity pushes” welcome new POC hires into an ultimately unsupportive environment that neither values inclusivity and diversity nor invests in existing talent. As such, since Q4 2020, we have tackled the following areas with two goals in mind: (1) preventing unfair wage gaps that typically occur based on race/ethnicity and gender (white women earn 82 cents for every dollar their white male peers earn; Black women are paid 63 cents for every dollar compared to white males; Latinx women are paid an average of 55 cents for every dollar compared to their white male peers) [source] and (2) providing clarity and guidance from management on how employees can advance professionally within the company and gain promotions and raises.


Actions taken:

  • We developed a clear compensation philosophy (i.e. how we compensate, and why) that provides every team member with transparency on how the total compensation and total benefits package that the company provides is developed, and what benefits are included in those.
  • We developed clear, firm, market-based salary bands, set per level, to actively limit unfair salary negotiations and wage disparities internally. 
  • We developed a clear, firm, market-based entry-level salary of $50,000 that starts all employees off with fair compensation.
  • Managers host regular, semi-annual performance reviews, guided by a level advancement framework which provides employees with a clear rubric and guidance for professional advancement and removes as much unconscious bias as possible.
  • Managers are expected to host regular 1:1 meetings with direct reports to discuss both short-term feedback and goals as well as long-term career development and goals-setting.


6-Month Action Plan:

  • We will create recruiting and interview standards for every role (internship to Director) that aims to eliminate unconscious bias.
  • We will develop a database of a diverse array of Black- and POC-centric channels and job boards our team can look to when hiring for full-time or part-time staff, as part of the recruitment process.
  • We will host a team discussion and brainstorm on how to make our contractor/part-time hiring process more equitable as we know that relying on our own network leads to unequal opportunities.


Long-Term Opportunity Areas for Future Improvement:

  • We must recruit and hire more POC and in particular Black candidates at all levels of the organization — especially in leadership positions as our business grows — and develop a clear hiring strategy for doing so as the business grows.
  • Partner with more POC- and Black-owned consultants and creatives and track our efforts, when the opportunity arises and as our business grows.
  • Improve professional growth opportunities and promotions within the company, in order to foster equitable career advancement, especially for junior employees. Historically, POC employees at companies are concentrated at the junior levels, with no clear path for advancement; it is important to invest in our existing internal talent.

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Team Makeup, Internal Practices, & Training

This section covers what our team looks like and what practices we are developing in pursuit of racial equity.


Progress Report

Our company currently employs 6 full-time staff, including our Founder. The below data is based on voluntary self-reporting from an August 2021 survey, with 83% participation from the team. This information is not inclusive of extended staff, such as consultants, contractors, or interns. Data is surveyed based on EEOC adherent categories.


Current team makeup: (see our previous breakdown in our first report)


6 full-time staff

--

100% women 

--

White: 60%

Southeast Asian: 20%

Hispanic/Latinx: 20%

East Asian: 20%

African-American/Black: 0.00%

American Indian/Alaskan Native: 0.00%

Middle Eastern: 0.00%

Pacific Islander: 0.00%

South Asian: 0.00%


As you review our data it is noteworthy to keep in mind that we are a team of six full-time employees. Our team has also decreased in size since the last report. In addition, we have no plans to hire more full-time staff in the near future. While we realistically are unable to change the makeup of our full-time team in the short-term, we’ve identified ways in which we can work against systemic racism and take a critical lens to ways we represent white dominant culture as a team. 

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These include:

  • supporting our existing team at all levels and promoting advancement within
  • incorporating processes and standards now so that we can scale equitable hiring practices later
  • and looking more closely at an area where we can affect shorter-term change (that is, ensuring our part-time and extended team member recruitment process is equitable).


These actionable steps are what you’ll see in our 6-month plan, below.

Goal

Progress

We will create recruiting and interview standards for every role (internship to Director) that aims to eliminate unconscious bias.

Incomplete. We paused on this goal due to the fact that we are not actively hiring for full-time roles now or in the near future, and to prioritize other goals.

We will develop a database of a diverse array of Black- and POC-centric channels and job boards our team can look to when hiring for full-time or part-time staff, as part of the recruitment process.

Incomplete. While we started a list internally, we paused on this goal due to the fact that we are not actively hiring for full-time roles now or in the near future, and to prioritize other goals.

We will host a team discussion and brainstorm on how to make our contractor/part-time hiring process more equitable as we know that relying on our own network leads to unequal opportunities.

Complete. Our team held a productive brainstorm with ideas we intend to utilize as we hire more contractors and part-time team members. Strategies include: developing a proactive database (prior to the hiring need) of candidates from diverse backgrounds, looking outside of our own networks by posting publicly about available roles, and developing longer-term relationships with our existing contractors and part-time team.

Host regular (1x month for 3 months) team sessions to debrief and discuss the Whiteness at Work series.

Complete. We held 3 total monthly team 1- to 1.5-hour long sessions with active discussion, engagement, and workshop activities, with the assistance of a third-party facilitator for 2 of these.

Bake in training into the official employee onboarding process and the manager development and expectations process around these topics: diversity, inclusion, racial equity, handling microaggressions in the workplace, and more.

Incomplete. We have updated the scope of this goal to be more focused on providing resources and always-on training options to managers to be prioritized throughout the next 6 months (see below).

Bake in our team’s DEI goals into our accountability systems software to accurately track progress on a regular basis.

Complete. We actively tracked our progress in our internal accountability software, Asana, along with regular check-ins with the team.

Recognize and observe Juneteenth as an annual, paid US holiday, and research other holidays that may deserve observation or time off for staff.

Complete. We now recognize and observe Juneteenth (since drafting, it is also now a Federal holiday).

Research and sketch out a budget for hosting and facilitating active and recurring DEI conversations with our internal team, led by a third-party to create a safe space for discussion.

Complete. We hired a third-party facilitator with 14 years of experience in this area to assist in facilitating team discussions.

Develop an established timeline for our accountability report, including a set process

Complete.

Establish a paid parental leave policy.

Complete. We have established a progressive policy of 12+ paid weeks of leave, with assistance from an expert in this area.

Research and sketch out a budget for partnering with a third-party to project manage and review the report.

Complete.

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‍Next 6 Months’ Goals

  1. Develop a database of a diverse array of Black- and POC-centric channels and job boards our team can look to when hiring, as part of the recruitment process. This will allow us to reach our goal of having a more diverse and representative team, and combat any unfair advantages to candidates who exist in our personal networks during the sourcing phase of recruitment. We would like to expand our network and look outside of our own, a practice that can often lead to racially homogenous teams.

  2. Further develop our existing database of freelancers and contractors to pull from for future needs, ensuring majority are POC, taking a more proactive approach to hiring extended teammates. Because we are a small business and hiring needs often come up quickly, having this resource on hand will allow us to meet our hiring needs on time while also being cognizant of which candidates we are sourcing.

  3. Develop a database of free and paid training modules around these topics: diversity, inclusion, racial equity, handling microaggressions in the workplace, and more. These resources will help us develop an internal culture that recognizes and prioritizes racial equity, and equip us with the tools and language to work towards it.

  4. Host regular team discussions to debrief and discuss our ongoing work towards greater diversity and racial equity; discussion topics may vary as-needed and as they arise. Our team expressed a desire to keep these discussions ongoing, top-of-mind, and relevant to our content and work. 

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Content & Creative

Our content is the most direct way we interact with our readers. What we write and how we curate recommendations is a key part of the reader experience for subscribers to our newsletter and followers on our social media platforms. We define content as anything that appears in our weekly newsletter, on our Instagram channel, or our website. 


Audit Summary
During the latest company-wide audit, we reviewed feedback from readers, specifically those who self-identify as Black and people of color; evaluated our current internal processes and best practices; and worked as a team to explore opportunities to create more equitable content and content opportunities at GNI.

Specifically, we took a closer look at the below to 1) better understand our current state of bias, structural and otherwise; 2) measure success and shortcomings of past anti-racism efforts; 3) reflect on where whiteness, privilege, and power have shaped our editorial process; and 4) identify where we have more room to create equitable content products and processes at GNI.


Our Voices

Who on the full-time GNI team contributes to Friday newsletters?
Roughly 75% of editor’s notes came from either our founder (Asian, Latinx) or one of two members or our content team who are white and white/Latinx respectively.

Who do we bring in to add to our editorial voices?
Out of 68 total issues of the weekly Friday newsletter in 2020-2021, we featured 14 guest editors. 


In 2020-2021, we conducted six editorial interviews with authors, artists, and founders. We chose to remove one of these interviews from our site in June 2020 to reduce harm when we learned of racist behavior perpetuated by the interviewee via news and social media coverage.

 
Our aim was and is to feature editors and interviewees from diverse backgrounds. However, because we did not ask the editors and interviewees to self-identify for this report, we do not want to misrepresent their backgrounds and share any identity-based data. For future reports, we hope to reach out ahead of time, and ask for their consent to share how they identify, in order to hold ourselves accountable to the equity in content we aim to create.

Our Content

We also conducted an internal audit of not just WHO contributed to GNI content, and WHAT topics we covered week to week, but HOW we covered them. During 2020 and into 2021, for example, we covered climate justice as social justice, finding a therapist as a person with a multicultural identity,  Black Lives Matter, the importance of Black stories, white supremacy and anti-Asian racism, representation, allyship, how to support Black leaders creating more equitable access to wellness, and community care via mutual aid networks; and by reviewing feedback from readers we were able to learn where we missed the mark, too.

We learned that we cannot cover these topics without first reflecting on and acknowledging how whiteness, privilege, and structural racism are prevalent in our own work — and how we can hold ourselves accountable to actionable change. We also learned that the way our content made people feel is not quantifiable. It is not just about what we did cover, but also what we didn’t: where we weren’t inclusive and didn’t take an intersectional lens to address both racial trauma and Black livelihood in our conversations about care.

Beyond what we covered (and what we did not), we were also able to closely examine HOW we covered these topics and when/where we have room to more inclusively and equitably approach content in the future. (See below: key learnings). 


Our Key Learnings


From this audit, we walked away with key learnings about content team practices, processes, and products, which were as follows.

Bring more Black and POC voices into the content creation process. As we’re able to hire new full-time members to the content team, this will be a conscious part of our recruiting process. But we also must broadly take action to create more opportunities for Black and POC creatives to get involved in sustained and compensated ways at GNI and ensure that this goal is baked into each step of our process, rather than simply an addition that can fall to the wayside.

Recognize the ways we represent whiteness and dominant culture in our content. Building more equitable content processes and products starts with our people. It’s important that we each are committed to anti-racism and equity so we can recognize when our perspective represents privilege and dominant culture through whiteness, specifically; and work actively to include more voices and experiences of people from historically marginalized communities.

Recognize the diversity of Black and POC readers and creators and their experiences.  We need to make room for Black and POC livelihood, joy, creativity, interests, business, and thought — not just trauma. We are a newsletter that at times touches on all of the above aspects of life, and it’s important to our readers and to our team that we represent Black and POC contributions to these topics in our content, not just after traumatic events.

Tighten the scope of GNI’s content so we’re able to create room for more thoughtful content, produced with equity and inclusion in mind. Narrowing the scope of our newsletter and defining what we do and do not cover will allow us to focus more energy on key aspects of creating more racial equity at GNI: research, transparency, program development, inclusion, accountability, and persistent and ongoing anti-racism.

Revisit our content standards. In order to create more equitable content and content opportunities, we will create refreshed standards and content guidelines. This will help us hold each other accountable to creating content that reflects our values and equity goals. In the next six months, we aim to set standards around: what we cover, the inclusive language we use, our accessibility guidelines, how to avoid cultural appropriation in content, and anti-racist content guidelines that we can continue to build upon on an ongoing basis. 


Think about content through an intersectional lens.
Creating a space that prioritizes racial equity is important to us at GNI, but our content must also continue to recognize people in their entire personhood and make room for intersections within race, gender, sexuality, religion, disability, and other historic sources of marginalization. Intentionally making space for these intersections can add nuance and care to our content creation at GNI. We will add to our content standards a list of the specific resources and works by Black and POC writers that inform how we create content with an intersectional lens.

6-Month Action Plan:

Our People & Voices

  • Launch a rotating board of paid guest curators representing a diverse range of identities.
  • Build a more transparent and equitable pipeline and criteria for how we hire contributors, reach out to guest editors, and select interviewees.
  • Implement guest and reader recommendation programs in our Friday newsletter to build space for ideas from outside our team.

Our Processes & Standards

  • Create a copy style guide complete with inclusivity and accessibility guidelines, anti-racism standards, content warning standards, pronoun standard for bylines, and appropriation standards to ensure we do not recommend any products that benefit from appropriation. By creating consistent standards our content team follows, we hope to hold our team accountable to these standards and prevent future harm.   
  • Create standards for when we might pause content/programming, revoke an interview/site post, and/or issue a newsletter or social correction.
  • Create a vetting checklist for how we pick what we curate and publish in our emails and on social media with a goal of minimizing bias in the editorial process.
  • Launch teamwide monthly discussion series focusing on creating equity in content. Include any decisions we make about our editorial process in our forthcoming external content guidelines.

Our Content Products

  • Develop a diverse and inclusive content product that passes the mic to a new collaborator each week on a central GNI topic. Ensure the content framework is defined and designed to be actively anti-racist and inclusive.
  • Implement a quarterly content survey, seeking feedback from readers.

Our Curation & Recommendations

  • Launch a small business feature (within an email or newsletter), and develop/track quantifiable goals to ensure we feature Black-and POC-owned brands. This will also include a simple, low-barrier-to-entry form for self- and peer-nomination.
  • Develop and track quantifiable goals to ensure racially and ethnically diverse representation in weekly newsletter recommendations.
  • Develop and track quantifiable goals to ensure articles that we amplify in the newsletter are created by and/or feature a diverse cross section of people, in particular people of color.
  • When featuring images from creators, ensure we ask for permission first 100% of the time.
  • Bring in voices outside of our internal team into the book pick selection process.
  • Set renewed standards for how we pick our monthly book selections. 


Long-Term Opportunity Areas for Future Improvement:

  • Explore how we can develop intentional, sustained, longer-term collaborations and partnerships with Black and POC content creators, vs. one-off collaborations, specific to holidays or special events.
  • Further research and develop a strategy for readers to opt out of emails covering sensitive holidays and topics.
  • Create a collaborator contract that includes our commitment to anti-racism and clear expectations for any content contributors or collaborators. 
  • Explore launching a reader board that helps shape GNI content initiatives and share feedback on a regular basis. 
  • Research, develop, explore, and launch methods and strategies for readers to provide feedback to the GNI team (example: focus groups)  so that we can gain outside feedback and perspectives on the state of content from a diverse group of readers. 
  • If our editorial program grows and we begin accepting pitches, we should set clear standards around how we accept those pitches and remain transparent around compensation and rounds of edits.
  • Work with a sensitivity reader to audit our content and newsletter archive once content inclusivity standards have been set.

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Giving Back & Fundraising

Past 6 Months' Progress 

Using our platform and business as a mode to elevate and support causes we believe in has long been a practice of Girls’ Night In. Following our first report, we set out to be more intentional and less reactionary about how and when we give back, and what organizations we support. Our goal is to create strong and ongoing relationships with nonprofits and/or organizations aligned with our mission and values in order to have a greater and more focused impact.

In order to do so, during the past six months, our team dedicated time and space in both meetings and emails to refining and defining our core company values, with the intention of using these as guiding principles to inform the action items we had originally committed to. Narrowing in on the core principles that matter most to us as a team helped crystalize the direction of our giving back strategy and fundraising efforts.

As such, we are now in the process of actively addressing the action items we initially slated to complete in the past six months and look forward to sharing more in the coming months.

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Progress Report:

Goal

Progress

Develop an annual give-back budget for the second half of 2021 and 2022 and a quarterly roadmap for giving, focusing on organizations tied to racial equity.

In progress. See above and below for more details.

Develop impact partner standards, looking internally and externally. Be able to answer, “What types of organizations do we support and why?”

In progress. See above and below for more details.



Next 6 Months' Action Items

  • Form relationship with 1-2 non profit organizations and plan the roll-out of a giving scheme and/or campaign
  • Identify ways to engage our audience in volunteer efforts and/or pro-bono work

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Partners and Vendors

Our partnerships are an important driving force behind our business.  We define a partner as any external group or individual that identifies as a brand, which we work with in a paid, organic, or strategic capacity. We seek to work with partners that align with our mission and offer products and services that support our audience’s lifestyle. 


Our business model is built on revenue that comes from our brand partnerships (i.e. advertising), and affiliate content on the Girls’ Night In channels. We work with partners so that we can deliver the newsletter each Friday free of charge. These channels include and are not limited to, the Girls’ Night In Weekly Newsletter, the Girls’ Night In Instagram, and through the Girls’ Night In website. 


Audit Summary

As a result of the recent internal audit, we took steps to provide clarity to our partners on our stance as a brand when it came to anti-racism and partnerships. This included drafting an anti-racist rider for our partnerships agreements that holds all partners accountable to our values and standards and allows us to discontinue any partnership that does not abide by them. We will be implementing this rider in all future agreements.


Through this audit, we investigated the definition of equity when it comes to our paid partnerships, both in terms of the partners that approach us and the partners we reach out to. We also investigated accessibility in terms of the relationships our audience has to our partners, taking into account price point, geographic location, and who the products we feature are made for or marketed to.


Our Key Learnings

Through reflection on our partnerships program, we’ve identified that our current approach to equity and inclusion within our content does not provide enough long-term or sustainable support to Black and POC-owned businesses. Moving forward, we are working to institute a consistent and multi-pronged offering across all partnerships. This means not only rethinking when and how we can support these partners, but also the framework of how we’re pricing and pitching to our partners. We are building proactive spaces and opportunities to work with and feature Black and POC-owned brands across all of our content. Through feedback from our audience, we’ve also learned we have an opportunity to more critically examine the nature of specific partners (i.e. is this product an explicit result of cultural appropriation?) in order to understand whether they align with our values.


6-Month Action Plan:


Standards & Practices

  • This statement could include and is not limited to:
  • Clearly defined examples of what denotes a paid partnership on GNI across all of our channels (newsletter, Instagram, website)
  • A basic outline of how our business model works and a definition of our revenue streams
  • Opportunities to nominate Black and POC-owned brands for a feature or sustainable partnership
  • A form to nominate an impact partner for charitable contributions or a sustainable partnership


Paid Partnerships 

Any partner that is paying NPI to advertise their products or services 

  • Explore new ad placements across all GNI paid channels that will be accessible to Black- and POC-owned small businesses, with clear criteria for brands that qualify
  • Set clarity in the accessibility of the products we feature for our audience, we will develop internal product placement and sourcing guidelines across variables including product price points


Strategic Partnerships

Any partner who is working in a non-paid capacity with NPI to drive awareness, growth, and/or impact

  • Create quantifiable diversity goals for all strategic partnerships in an effort to include more Black- and POC-owned and founded brands
  • Develop a formal process for brands to be nominated for a feature across our email, website, and social media content. This form will be open to the NPI audience
  • Diversify our strategic partnerships network to include more Black- and POC-owned businesses


Affiliate Partnerships 

Commission-based content partners across NPI

  • Ensure our virtual shelf space (i.e. the GNI Shop) makes space for Black- and POC-owned and founded businesses, and will develop a quantifiable goal to track our progress
  • Set standards for including shoppable products across a variety of price points, and clarify with our audience where our business stands regarding price points
  • Establish a system to collect item and brand nominations from our readers to be featured on the GNI Shop site


Long-Term Opportunity Areas for Future Improvement:

  • Initiate a strategy to help bring Black and POC-owned entrepreneurs into categories we inhabit, such as home goods, etc. to create more opportunities to get their businesses off the ground
  • Further investigate the desires of our audience to present them with more diverse partners to meet their needs 
  • Update our partnerships standards and vetting processes to ensure our partners reflect our brand values and within those, pathways to racial equity

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Equitable Pay and Access to Opportunities

This section is about prioritizing  equitable access to opportunities — for people, brands, and our own employees — whether that means getting in front of our audience, getting equitable opportunities for advancement, or opportunities for pay. Previously, some of these goals were categorized differently, but we feel that “equitable pay and access” suits these goals better.


Progress update:

Goal

Progress

Launch a small business feature (within an email or newsletter), and develop/track quantifiable goals to ensure we feature Black-and POC-owned brands. This will also include a simple, low-barrier-to-entry form for self- and peer-nomination.

Incomplete. We have yet to launch a regular small business feature, and it remains an important opportunity to continue to work on this for the next cycle.

Build a more transparent and equitable pipeline and criteria for how we hire contributors, reach out to guest editors, and select interviewees.

In progress. Now that we have a process down for how we reach out to contributors, editors, and interviewees (as of September 2021), we are working on more documents to share with the contributors such as further guides about the brand and expectations. In terms of transparency and equity, we currently have active and continued conversations involving benchmarks we want to hit involving Black and POC contributors.

When featuring images from creators, ensure we ask for permission first 100% of the time.

Complete. This is now baked in as part of our process.

Explore new ad placements across all GNI paid channels that will be accessible to Black-and-POC-owned small businesses, with clear criteria for brands that qualify.  

Incomplete. We will develop internal standards and terms by which BIPOC-owned businesses may receive a set discount on our regular partnership placements. We are actively researching and developing this effort now.

Develop a formal process for brands to be nominated for a feature across our email, website, and social media content. This form will be open to the NPI audience.

Complete. The link to the nomination form can be found here.

Ensure our virtual shelf space (i.e. the GNI Shop) makes space for Black- and POC-owned and founded businesses, and will develop a quantifiable goal to track our progress

Being mindful of inclusivity and diversity is now part of our process for curating and building GNI shops and our shopping newsletter content. We decided not to develop a quantifiable goal for each newsletter but rather to create a new holistic practice to ensure we are always keeping Black- and POC-owned businesses top of mind.

Establish a system to collect item and brand nominations from our readers to be featured on the GNI Shop site

Complete. The link to the nomination form can be found here.

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Next 6 months’ goals:

  1. Establish standards for when and what we pay editorial contributors and work toward sharing our rates externally.
  2. Explore avenues to develop a small business feature in our newsletters, for BIPOC-owned brands specifically.
  3. Create standards around when we may link to products from larger retailers versus directly linking to a small business’s website. 
  4. Utilize forms on our website to collect nominations from our audience for non-profits and small businesses and use them to source ideas for increasing inclusion of small businesses, nonprofits, and organizations in our content.
  5. Research and sketch out a professional development budget to encourage learning and internal advancement within the company.

Community & The Lounge

Since Girls’ Night In’s inception in 2017, community has been at the core of what we do. We define a community as a group of individuals who connect over common interests and values on a regular basis. A primary mode we built community was through The Lounge which operated from September 2019 - April 2021. During that time, we sought to create a community that was rooted in care, connection, and curiosity.

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The Launch and Closing of The Lounge

After years of planning and ideating, the Girls’ Night In team beta launched a paid membership offering for Founding Loungers in our hometown of Washington, D.C. in September 2019. The membership largely centered around a digital platform to meet fellow members IRL in your neighborhood and beyond with the purpose of fostering connections.

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The original vision for The Lounge centered on connecting through IRL gatherings. As with many other businesses last year, COVID-19 forced our team to pivot The Lounge’s model in new directions from when we publicly launched in July 2020. Soon, our membership numbers outgrew the number of staffing and resources it truly needed to thrive and slowly, it became clear that The Lounge was no longer a sustainable model for us operationally or financially.

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After more than a year of creating space for building community, we made the very hard decision to close The Lounge in April 2021. This decision was carefully made after considering a variety of factors, including resources available to our team, the business’s overarching long-term goals, and the safety of our members.


Our Key Learnings

While diversity is something that can be counted and seen, inclusion is something that is felt. After receiving feedback from our community members, it became clear that many of our Black members and members of color did not feel The Lounge was an inclusive space.

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Moving forward, we hope to approach audience- and community-centered efforts with intention, actions rooted in our values of racial equity as well as sustainability, in the hopes that we’ll curate more inclusive and safe experiences for our readers.

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The Lounge is no longer in operation, thus the team has no 6-month action plan to share. Regardless, as a team we have baked in short-term goals towards diversity, inclusion, and equity across our various departments, including how we'll engage with our readers and audience in the future.

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Diverse Representation & Inclusivity in Content and Creative

This section is about who we represent in our content, and whose voices and work we include in the development of that content. This can mean: Who is writing our content (is the majority white individuals)? What brands are we featuring? How diverse and representative are we in our marketing imagery and efforts? And how are we including our audience in the development of our content? Previously, some of these goals were scattered across various departments; we feel that greater representation and inclusivity is a company-wide goal and thus we’ve marked it as a major category for our work.



Progress update:

Goal

Progress

Launch a rotating board of paid guest curators representing a diverse range of identities.

Incomplete. This has not been started—we prioritized creating many systems for working on our guest rec and guest editor program. At this time, we do not plan to create a board as we are still scaling up other editorial programs involving guest contributors.

Implement guest and reader recommendation programs in our Friday newsletter to build space for ideas from outside our team.

Complete. This is now part of our regular program. Every Friday newsletter has recs from either readers, outside guests, or both.

Create a copy style guide complete with inclusivity and accessibility guidelines, anti-racism standards, content warning standards, pronoun standard for bylines, and appropriation standards to ensure we do not recommend any products that benefit from appropriation. By creating consistent standards our content team follows, we hope to hold our team accountable to these standards and prevent future harm.

Complete. Though we aspire to have everything we do be anti-racist, we acknowledge that anti-racism needs to be baked into all of our content standards across the board, no matter the type of content. After researching and reading resources created by organizations such as the National Association of Black Journalists, Native American Journalists Association, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Asian American Journalism Association, Studio ATAO, and more, we created an internal style guide with inclusivity and accessibility guidelines, as well as standards to help us identify cultural appropriation. In terms of pronoun standards, when we need to refer to pronouns, we use what the person refers to themselves as.

Create standards for when we might pause content/programming, revoke an interview/site post, and/or issue a newsletter or social correction.

In progress. We have had a teamwide discussion involving when we say something in terms of pausing content, revoking content, and issuing corrections. At this point, these are still case-by-case determinations.

Create a vetting checklist for how we pick what we curate and publish in our emails and on social media with a goal of minimizing bias in the editorial process.

Complete.

Launch teamwide monthly discussion series focusing on creating equity in content. Include any decisions we make about our editorial process in our forthcoming external content guidelines.

In progress. We have held accountability conversations more frequently than once a month, though not all have been content-focused. We will continue folding in content-related conversations to the larger schedule.

Develop a diverse and inclusive content product that passes the mic to a new collaborator each week on a central GNI topic. Ensure the content framework is defined and designed to be actively anti-racist and inclusive.

In progress. Several products involving guest contributors have recently been greenlit and are starting to rollout this fall. Guidelines are still in process.

Implement a quarterly content survey, seeking feedback from readers.

Incomplete. We do not plan to make this quarterly. The first step is a larger survey about the overall brand, happening this fall.

Develop and track quantifiable goals to ensure racially and ethnically diverse representation in weekly newsletter recommendations.

Incomplete. We consider representation every week, but have not yet put numbers around it. We are still discussing whether and what kinds of goals (quantifiable versus qualitative) we should have to ensure intersectional representation in recommendations we feature.

Develop and track quantifiable goals to ensure articles that we amplify in the newsletter are created by and/or feature a diverse cross section of people, in particular people of color.

We consider representation every week, but have not yet put numbers around it. We are still discussing whether and what kinds of goals (quantifiable versus qualitative) we should have to ensure intersectional representation in articles we feature.

Bring in voices outside of our internal team into the book pick selection process.

 N/A. We no longer have monthly book picks, though we do feature books and other entertainment recommended by guest contributors or readers.

Set renewed standards for how we pick our monthly book selections.

N/A. We no longer have monthly book picks so we no longer need these standards.

Create quantifiable diversity goals for all strategic partnerships in an effort to include more Black- and POC-owned and founded brands.

Incomplete. We cannot guarantee the number of strategic partnerships that we do and therefore we are expanding this goal to create more diversity in the content that we control.

Diversify our strategic partnerships network to include more Black- and POC-owned businesses

In progress. We’ve developed relationships and incorporated and promoted them into our partnerships and newsletter content and will continue to do so.


Next 6 months’ goals:

  1. Create an avenue to work and collaborate with contributors on a sustained basis .
  2. Create standards around the inclusion of size-inclusive brands.
  3. Further develop branded content standards that include diverse imagery preferences and inclusive language guidelines for our partners.  
  4. Ensure our virtual shelf space (i.e. the GNI Shop and shopping-centric editorial products) holds space for Black- and POC-owned and founded businesses.
  5. Diversify our strategic partnerships network to include more Black- and POC-owned businesses.

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Internal Training, Policies, & Guidance

Teamwide trainings provide team members with a shared framework of understanding and language that can be used to more effectively communicate with each other around issues of equity, personal boundaries, cultural differences, and more.


In January 2021, our team viewed  The Adaway Group’s Whiteness at Work pre-recorded summer series. We plan to debrief this series together as a team in the coming months, led by an on-staff facilitator, to examine our own individual privileges, how white dominant culture and white privilege manifests in our workplace, how our organization’s systems could contribute to a more equitable future, and continue to provide open avenues for discussion within our team.


Currently, we have some internal policies that exist in order to give team members space to recharge as-needed. These policies are relevant in our pursuit of racial equity as we would like every member of the team, regardless of race, ethnicity, or background, to thrive. These internal policies include:

  • A paid time off policy of 20 days
  • Paid time off for holidays
  • Bereavement leave
  • At least 1-2 “Breaksgiving Days” per quarter, where the full team collectively takes time off to recharge


Audit Summary

We currently have in place various benefits and processes for our employees to take care. We have recently begun to explicitly and actively discuss topics of diversity and inclusion with the team through the help of existing workshops and materials, such as The Adaway Group. While this is a good start, there is room for improvement in further baking in anti-racism and equity into our company culture, policies, and practices, and for us to remain critical as we make decisions about who best to learn from. 


Our Key Learnings

After examining our existing training, guidance, and policies, as well as soliciting feedback from the current team through a team brainstorm, we’ve learned that while we don’t have a large financial budget to put towards items such as paid trainings, facilitations, or workshops, there still exist opportunities to make changes in our processes, policies, and spaces of discussion to encourage and work towards a shared understanding and active practice of diversity, inclusion, and racial equity.


6-Month Action Plan:

  • Host regular (1x month) team sessions to debrief and discuss the Whiteness at Work series.
  • Bake in training into the official employee onboarding process and the manager development and expectations process around these topics: diversity, inclusion, racial equity, handling microaggressions in the workplace, and more.
  • Bake in our team’s DEI goals into our accountability systems software to accurately track progress on a regular basis.
  • Recognize and observe Juneteenth as an annual, paid US holiday, and research other holidays that may deserve observation or time off for staff.
  • Research and sketch out a budget for hosting and facilitating active and recurring DEI conversations with our internal team, led by a third-party to create a safe space for discussion.
  • Develop an established timeline for our accountability report, including a set process
  • Establish a paid parental leave policy.
  • Research and sketch out a budget for partnering with a third-party to project manage and review the report.


Long-Term Opportunity Areas for Future Improvement:

  • Invest in an external consultant/coach to assist with various departments’ work on an ongoing basis with a lens on racial equity, as well as hosting and facilitating regular trainings and debriefs.
  • Develop an ongoing professional development budget to promote career growth and skills development internally.
  • Set aside regular time “off” with the team to learn and build skills through coffees with industry experts, take courses and host discussions on anti-racism, and self-educate.
  • Integrate mental health benefits into our company-wide benefits.
  • Develop a clear professional development budget to offer existing staff resources & training needed to advance and promote within the company.
  • Explore salary bands transparency internally.
  • Explicitly define our company values and align with all business activities, including but not limited to hiring, policies, and more.
  • Explore digital safety tools and processes to support staff who manage channels such as social media.

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Accessibility in Content

This section is about who can access our content, website, newsletter, and the products that we feature.


Progress update:

Goal

Progress

Publish an active statement on our Advertise/Partner Page on our website to clarify what kind of partners we aim to work with and why.

Complete. This statement can be found here.

Set clarity in the accessibility of the products we feature for our audience, we will develop internal product placement and sourcing guidelines across variables including product price points

Incomplete. We are planning an internal meeting to create these guidelines with a deadline of the end of the year.

Set standards for including shoppable products across a variety of price points, and clarify with our audience where our business stands regarding price points

In progress. We aim to include a variety of price points across all shoppable products. The goal is to ensure equitable accessibility. In order to formalize our standards, we are meeting as a team to set these moving forward.

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Next 6 months’ goals:

  1. Create standards around alt text usage for the newsletter, site, and social media in order to make our content more accessible to more readers.
  2. Set standards for including shoppable products across a variety of price points in order to better address accessibility and namely, the millennial wealth gap that persists today. 

Giving Back & Fundraising

Trigger warning: anti-Blackness, racism, death. The below section discusses recent incidents of anti-Black violence and the murder of Black people via the state.


In 2020, as a company we wanted to give back to communities in need and amplification. We chose to contribute to efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as efforts that worked towards racial equity and justice, particularly in light of the summer of protests in the United States and abroad after the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.


As a company, we donated 21% of our annual profit to organizations, including organizations that promote social justice and well-being. These organizations include: The Equal Justice Initiative, The Loveland Foundation, The Black Schoolhouse, World Central Kitchen, and Crisis Text Line.


Audit Summary

In reviewing our actions in giving back and fundraising, we know that our company has contributed financially in the ways we are able to as a small business, beginning in 2020. The impetus for our giving back activities was largely following the Black Lives Matter protests, our team’s desire to contribute in a meaningful way, and recognition that our business was growing and that we were able to give back. 


Our Key Learnings

We have a few key learnings after reflecting on this audit. First, there is an opportunity to be more intentional in our giving and less reactionary. Second, and relatedly, there is an opportunity to clearly define our values and align our giving activities to those values. Third, while the dollars we can give at our stage of business are not in the millions, we can still contribute and make a material difference. Lastly, we have an opportunity to look beyond our personal knowledge and networks and tap into our audience for ideas on what organizations to support.


6-Month Action Plan:

  • Develop an annual give-back budget for the second half of 2021 and 2022, a quarterly roadmap for giving, with specific organizations tied to racial equity we will give back to.
  • Develop impact partner standards, looking internally and externally. Be able to answer, “What types of organizations do we support and why?”

 

Long-Term Opportunity Areas for Future Improvement:

  • Introduce an employer donation matching scheme.
  • Explore community impact fundraising efforts led by our brand.
  • Give sustainably and create long-standing impact partnerships, impact partner check-ins, long-term giving plans.

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Feedback

Thanks for reading. We know this is just the beginning and that we can do better as we work to add more action steps in this plan towards racial equity. If you have suggestions on people or businesses we should be supporting, please email resources to hello@girlsnightin.co. We thank you in advance for your energy and your labor, and for trusting us as we learn and grow together.

Feedback

Thanks for reading. We know this is just the beginning and that we can do better as we work to add more action steps in this plan towards racial equity. If you have suggestions on people or businesses we should be supporting, please email resources to hello@girlsnightin.co. We thank you in advance for your energy and your labor, and for trusting us as we learn and grow together.


Dictionary of Terms

Anti-racism: The practice of actively fighting against racism and white supremacy, and promoting racial tolerance.


Diversity: The range of human identity including but not limited to race, culture, background, class, sexuality, and more. Diversity helps us understand ways that we are similar to and different from one another, but it does not necessitate us to do anything with that information. It is a basic level of understanding that does not require connection, collaboration, or compassion. (Source)


Inclusion: The practice of including all people, especially those who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized on the basis of their race, culture, background, class, sexuality, disability and more. While diversity can be counted, inclusion is felt. (Source: Whiteness at Work, Adaway Group)


POC: Person/People of Color


Racial equity: An active process where power and resources are distributed so everyone has what they need to thrive. It is an acknowledgement of power and systemic structures. (Source: Whiteness at Work, Adaway Group)


Representation: Seeing and appreciating one’s race, background, culture, or other form of identity being included and portrayed accurately and fairly.


Structural racism: The overarching system of racial bias across institutions and society. These systems give privileges to white people resulting in disadvantages to people of color. (Source)


White dominant culture: A system in which white people have social, political, historical, or institutional dominance over people of other backgrounds.


White privilege: Social and economic advantages that white people have by virtue of their race, in a culture characterized by racial inequality. (Source)


WOC: Woman/Women of Color

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Dictionary of Terms

Anti-racism: The practice of actively fighting against racism and white supremacy, and promoting racial tolerance.


Diversity: The range of human identity including but not limited to race, culture, background, class, sexuality, and more. Diversity helps us understand ways that we are similar to and different from one another, but it does not necessitate us to do anything with that information. It is a basic level of understanding that does not require connection, collaboration, or compassion. (Source)


Inclusion: The practice of including all people, especially those who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized on the basis of their race, culture, background, class, sexuality, disability and more. While diversity can be counted, inclusion is felt. (Source: Whiteness at Work, Adaway Group)


POC: Person/People of Color


Racial equity: An active process where power and resources are distributed so everyone has what they need to thrive. It is an acknowledgement of power and systemic structures. (Source: Whiteness at Work, Adaway Group)


Representation: Seeing and appreciating one’s race, background, culture, or other form of identity being included and portrayed accurately and fairly.


Structural racism: The overarching system of racial bias across institutions and society. These systems give privileges to white people resulting in disadvantages to people of color. (Source)


White dominant culture: A system in which white people have social, political, historical, or institutional dominance over people of other backgrounds.


White privilege: Social and economic advantages that white people have by virtue of their race, in a culture characterized by racial inequality. (Source)


WOC: Woman/Women of Color