The outpouring of pain & anger and the renewed drive for justice and equality that’s come on the back of George Floyd’s death has shone a light on societies, communities, businesses and people all over the world. It’s brought to the fore an issue that so often goes ignored or unconsidered, by so many. And the truth is, it’s shone a light on the fact that it doesn’t occupy enough of our thoughts, nor is it addressed sufficiently by our business practices.
On Blackout Tuesday, we hesitated when it came to posting a black square on our social media channels. We hesitated because, while we deeply wanted to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement, we also need to acknowledge that we’re not doing enough and haven’t done enough. Not through a lack of care, but through a lack of attention, and because we hadn’t taken the time to listen and really understand. In the end, we chose to post to show our solidarity, but with the knowledge that we need to do more.
We have benefited from undeniable privilege, which has helped us to build a business with hundreds of thousands of customers around the world. The world we operate in is a diverse one, yet our customer base, our network of franchise owners, our team at HQ and our team of freelance teachers doesn’t reflect that fully. This is true across much of our industry, and is rooted in deep systemic issues that we as business owners have unintentionally played a part in perpetuating.
As business owners, we have an opportunity to be an agent of change – to push to help create a better society. If we don’t, but instead idly stand by, our businesses end up reflecting society’s injustices, its immorality and its prejudices. In this instance, it reflects society’s racism. We’re genuinely proud to have had inclusiveness and accessibility as central principles of our brand since we launched, but we acknowledge that we haven’t taken enough action to ensure that those principles are truly embedded in practice. We must do more to ensure our business reflects the society we want to see.
We know we could have made this statement earlier or acted more quickly, but we wanted to avoid a knee-jerk reaction and ensure we approached this in a considered way. We believe that in order to act meaningfully, we need to learn. We need to learn how we can be an actual force for good over this issue – to use the platform we’ve created to drive change. Our learning starts now.
This learning will feed into a multi-focus strategy that we’re working on across all levels of our business from the inside out, so that we can make a real impact – whether it be through our freelance teaching team, our management team, our teacher training academy or our network of franchises. The sheer scale of our business and network means we’re in a unique position to enhance opportunities for black and minority individuals in our industry, to empower them as business owners or yoga teachers and to ensure we set the right example to the whole industry and to the communities in which we operate.
If you are a member of the HPY community and would like to be a part of the conversation, we encourage you to reach out and we welcome your insights, experiences, and feedback, but we ultimately understand that it is our responsibility to do the work, educate ourselves and be the drivers of change.
Max & Nick