While yet another national lockdown presents difficulties and challenges for all of us, it is also a period of relative calm and an opportunity for reflection. With this in mind, we’d like to take the opportunity to update the HPY community on the work we’ve been doing behind the scenes since introducing our Framework for Change back in June, which outlined the key areas in which we want to meaningfully contribute to the fight against racism and racial inquality. We acknowledge that we’ve made more progress in some areas than others, but we’re in this for the long haul and are committed to transparency and accountability throughout this process of transformation.
We are proud to announce that we’ve commissioned a piece of research with Race on the Agenda, one of the UK’s leading social policy think tanks focusing on issues that affect BAME communities. The research will focus on understanding the barriers that BAME individuals face to accessing mainstream yoga studios, with the goal of helping industry leaders understand these barriers and enabling them to drive real change. Four fellow yoga brands have already come on board with us to back the project, including Kindred Yoga, Yogarise, Yoga London, and Eden East. We ideally need ten studios to take part, and are actively reaching out to other studio owners who may want to participate. If you know of a studio that may be interested, please let us know.
Education & Training
In early August, the entire Hotpod Yoga HQ team completed Anti-Racism and Diversity training led by Dr. Stacie Graham. We are in the process of planning similar trainings for our teaching staff and franchise network, which will take place early next year. We also took the more informal, but equally important step of holding an internal focus group with some of our BAME teachers, customers, and franchise owners, inviting them to share their experiences and insights.
Work is underway on two different bursary programmes, both of which will launch next year. We’ll be offering 4 bursary spots in our 200hr Yoga Teacher Training courses (one spot for each full-time and part-time course) and we are launching our first ever franchise bursary programme, in order to empower aspiring yoga entrepreneurs to start their own Hotpod Yoga franchise. We will actively seek out BAME applicants for each bursary programme, through partnerships with racial justice and equality-focussed social enterprises and charities.
Brand & Imagery
While our creative output has been greatly diminished due to restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have continued to take a strongly multi-racial approach to our brand imagery. We’ve also placed new partnership and ambassador activity on hold, but as we begin to resume these activities, we will be actively diversifying our network of ambassadors and brand partners – to ensure they reflect the communities around us and our desire to establish our brand as a force for change in driving forward racial inclusion in the yoga industry
With our London studios currently closed yet again due to the latest national lockdown, we’ve not yet made meaningful progress on making community outreach a key priority. We are acutely aware that the diversity in our classes does not reflect the communities near our studios, which is something we’ll be working hard to rectify over the coming months.
While we are currently in the midst of a hiring freeze across all areas of the business, we’re optimistic that we’ll be able to begin hiring again early next year, at which point diversity will be a key priority. We will work with a diversity and inclusion advisor to help guide us in re-shaping our recruitment strategy, and have committed to completely overhauling our approach to diversity in recruitment of teachers, HQ staff and franchisees. We’ll also be keeping a record of key diversity measures and tracking this progress over time.
As ever, we welcome your thoughts and feedback.