Pathways to Racial Equity

Accountability Report - October 2021 Update
(read the previous report)

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 attended and learned from. We want to acknowledge and thank these two organizations for their models for accountability.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Team Makeup, Internal Practices, & Training
  • Giving Back & Fundraising
  • Equitable Pay & Access to Opportunities
  • Diverse Representation and Inclusivity in Content & Creative
  • Accessibility in Content
  • Feedback
  • Dictionary of Terms

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


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. 

‍

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.

‍

‍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. 

‍

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.

‍

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

‍

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.

‍

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.

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.

‍

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.

‍


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. 

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

‍