July 20, 2020
Dear Topdrawer Community,
In early June, we created a task force of people throughout our organization to address the issues brought up during recent months regarding The Black Lives Matter Movement. Learning from The Black Lives Matter Movement, our diverse team volunteered to spearhead a review of our company in this area to see where we need to improve and how we may play a more proactive part in driving positive change for the Black American community. This is our first update on our progress so far.
We decided to approach it from three angles:
1. An internal audit on our own diversity. Are we diverse in our employee makeup?
2. A review of who we do business with. Are our suppliers diverse?
3. What are we doing from a philanthropic point of view toward this cause?
The team first had to address some sobering facts. The country, and the world, is in the middle of a pandemic, and the economic impact on the country and our company has been severe. Like all other brick and mortar retailers, we are fighting to reopen our business in all of our locations and to hire back many of our people who were laid off. So, anything we work on in terms of diversity has to also take into account the real fact that we need to survive this economic crisis and health pandemic.
Before we started making changes, the Task Force reviewed how we currently stack up in diversity compared to the population breakdown of America as a whole. We found that Topdrawer has a lot of diversity on its executive team and associate teams, but we have work to do, especially in the Hispanic American and Latino American categories, which are not represented well enough in our diversity profile. The Black American community is well represented, but we can improve there, as well. We are especially strong in our representation of the Asian American population.
We are evaluating our suppliers now. Although diverse, we believe we can proactively reach out to more companies that are owned and operated by Black Americans.
Philanthropy for The Black Lives Matter Movement:
Our Berkeley store team, in particular, is leading the way in identifying some ways to support The Black Lives Matter Movement. They donated products to support a drive helping Black homeless women. The Berkeley team and our San Francisco team have also come together and created beautiful masks and bandanas that will be for sale in our Berkeley location soon. One hundred percent of the proceeds from these handmade items will be donated to Planting Justice, an East Oakland organization cultivating opportunities for underprivileged communities through farming organic foods and grass-root initiatives. We plan to roll out a similar program in all our stores and cities. Topdrawer will pay for our employees’ volunteer time to support these local charities in the cities where we operate. Not only will this help the community, but it will help foster camaraderie among our team members, too.
Other achievable short-term plans:
- Provide internal education on injustices and inequalities experienced within Black communities,
utilizing the company newsletter as the communication vehicle.
- Promote and sell an expanded range of books about Black history and Black community causes like
“Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, among others.
- Expand upon our Diversity & Inclusion training into our leadership on-boarding process.
Phase two plans:
- Offer our stores as free gallery-opening venues for diverse artists to show their work after store hours.
- Work closely with the Equal Justice Initiative and possibly carry some of their items to sell for donations.
We view this time as a chance to change for the better. This is an opportunity for all races to come together and stand up for what is right. It won’t be perfect, but by working together, we believe we can make quick and meaningful progress.
We want to thank you, our Topdrawer community, for supporting us during this pandemic and for helping us in our effort to make Topdrawer a leader in inclusiveness.
Director of Stores / Task Force Leader
Itoya Topdrawer Corp