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The Appleyards

Implementing Anti-Racism + Change Management In Small Business

Consistency is what makes a brand solid, and it will be consistency that makes anti-racism a pillar of our brand values, with every new lesson we leave ourselves open to receiving. We’ve started working with an equity specialist as we establish a sense of direction when it comes to this work, and we want to share some insights we’ve gained with other businesses owners who may be in the same place…

Is “inclusivity” one of your brand’s core values?

Sweet — us, too.

But, when you take a content inventory, how aligned is what you share on the outside with what you feel on the inside?

Is your passion for inclusivity reflected regularly in what you share online about your business? And what about your weekly – maybe daily – practices as a business owner?

There are several marketing tools we (white business owners) use to “prove” inclusivity from a place of optics — but we are in the midst of learning deep lessons about the damage of optical allyship.

We’ve heard many times lately, that being not-racist isn’t enough. We must be anti-racist.

In this same theme, claiming inclusivity isn’t enough.

We must be consciously assessing our messaging on an ongoing basis to make sure it isn’t perpetuating hate.

The way we’ve come to understand our role, as founders of a creative agency, is one of constant + continual CHANGE MANAGEMENT. An ongoing journey, with steps, goals, assessments, evaluations, and lifelong learning.

Consistency is what makes a brand solid, and it will be consistency that makes anti-racism a pillar of our brand values, with every new lesson we leave ourselves open to receiving.

We’ve started working with an equity specialist as we establish a sense of direction when it comes to this work, and we want to share some insights we’ve gained with other businesses owners who may be in the same place.  

01 // DETERMINE YOUR LEARNING STYLE

I’m not a big reader. I’m not a big history person. I learn through life, I learn through doing. And a lot of the time for me, that means reading a little, feeling a lot, sharing, engaging; and forming new understanding from the conversations that come up. Recognizing that it’s the things I’m *not doing* that are the problem, I’m seeking out things to *do*.

Frank, on the other hand, learns well by watching + listening. Lectures, podcasts, and books, with a good amount of self-reflection on the side, will be his path to adjusting his beliefs + acknowledging his privilege.

Our journeys in anti-racism will look different, because our lives have looked different. The book your best friend raves about isn’t necessarily going to be the resource that changes the world, for you. Take time to assess your best learning strategy.

02 // APPLY WITH RELEVANCE

Rather than jumping into all the education recommendations that are out there right now, think about what really gets you excited, and start there. If your passion is in the beauty industry, start with resources that are relevant to that space.

Not only will this ensure the content is engaging for you, it will also allow you to reflect + share with your peers from a place of confidence. Deepen your conscious understanding of the things you already love, from someone else’s perspective.

03 // BUILD PERSONAL + BRAND VALUES

This process is about determining what specific values and boundaries we can implement into our brand promises that pertain directly to anti-racism.

Like anything, these will evolve and grow as we learn. But we’re asking ourselves: what decisions must we make in our everyday operations, as humans and business owners, that create an impact? 

We’ll evaluate and set our values as individuals first, and then come together to determine what criteria impacts the decisions we make for our brand. Who we collaborate with, what projects we take on, what brands we endorse directly (by investing in them), or indirectly (by using them in our photo shoots), our work with affiliates… and the list goes on.

04 // UPHOLD YOUR VALUES

We’re taking time to develop our list of values, because it’s easy to say, “we want to be anti-racist” but it’s harder to determine exactly HOW that fits into our practices – and more, we want to make sure that the promises we make can be upheld, and measured. Upholding our brand promises means finding ways to integrate them daily, weekly, monthly – and setting benchmarks to hold ourselves accountable.

05 // EVALUATE THEIR SUCCESS

This means making our anti-racism values measurable. Finding concrete + conscious ways to evaluate ourselves along the way – willingness to make mistakes, make adjustments, and move forward with purpose.

This process is ever-evolving, and never complete – as we learn more, experience more, dive into different conversations, and share our experiences along the way, we’ll be looking back on these steps at every stage and leaving ourselves open to the shifts that come along with it.

Fostering an increased consciousness for the way we show up as businesses owners and humans is a catalyst for change that we can be actively applying today, and every day.

It’s deep work, it’s reflective work, it’s uncomfortable work.

It will be messy.

It will be worth it.

And we’ll be with you, every step of the way.