Episode #44: How we’re addressing diversity & inclusion in our businesses

DRIVEN: A podcast for modern entrepreneurs. How we're addressing diversity & inclusion in our businesses

In today’s episode, we have a candid discussion about the approach to anti-racism that we’re both taking in our businesses.


LINKS:

How to Create Diversity within Your Online Business by Rachel Rodgers

Cassy Joy: It seems to me more of a PR type self-protection than really trying to do something meaningful with their statement and their words. So, I would assess. Are you doing something just because you feel like you have to and you’re trying to put out something that’s as benign as possible, and watered down, and not meaningful? Then I challenge you to be as specific and bold as possible.

Welcome to Driven; a show about business, life, and wellness from two confident, curious women who are pulling back the curtain on what it’s like being an entrepreneur. Each week, join hosts Diane Sanfilippo and Cassy Joy Garcia talk about being your best, showing up for your dreams, and kicking self-doubt to the curb.

Diane is a business whisperer, best-selling author, and plant-hobbyist based in San Francisco. Cassy Joy is the founder of www.FedandFit.com, best-selling author, and casserole enthusiast. She calls San Antonio, Texas, home.

Diane Sanfilippo: In today’s episode, we’re going to have a candid discussion about the approach to anti-racism that we’re both taking in our businesses.

Topics:

  1. Shop Talk: Anti-racism [1:10]
  2. Where we’ve been in our business [6:35]
  3. Impact matters over intention [18:40]
  4. Where we are now in our business [30:23]
  5. Where we are going in our business [39:26]
  6. Tip of The Week: Mentors from afar [52:51]

1.  Shop Talk: Anti-racism [1:10]

Diane Sanfilippo: This week we’re skipping What’s on My Plate in favor of collectively talking about what’s on our plates just kind of at large in the meat of this episode. So we’ll just be jumping right into that.

Shop Talk. In this segment, we discuss topics related to business and entrepreneurship that are on our minds and yours. And right now, that is digging into anti-racism. So, Cassy, why don’t you kick us off. I think you have an excellent quote to share.

Cassy Joy: Yes. I think this is a great way to tip off our conversation. It’s by Rachel Rodgers of HelloSeven.co. And we will link to this article where it came from. But she writes in this article; and the article is titled, “How to create diversity within your online business”. And the quote is, “It’s time for all of us to take responsibility for the communities we are creating with our businesses. We must all ask ourselves, “is my business contributing to the progression of our society, or is my business contributing to the regression of our society?”

BOOM! If that’s not convicting, I don’t know what is. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: It really is. And I’ve actually loved following along with Rachel Rodgers. You guys can find her on Instagram at RachRodgersESQ. And we’ll link to her, as well, from our Instagram so that you can find her. And she also held a townhall meeting, which we both were able to chime into, or tune into, for at least a period of time. It was kind of a longer call, and I think we’ll be able to catch the replay of that. And picked up some really great insights from different business owners; a very diverse group of people who were sharing insights, what they’re doing, what they’ve done in the past. How they have fumbled and gotten things wrong.

I believe the founder of Convert Kit was on, which is an email software company. Email marketing. And I thought his insights were fantastic, he’s a white man. And we both thought it was like; oh, what will he be sharing in this conversation. Because, I think we can agree, we’ve largely been in communication with mostly women. Whether white women or black women. And I think it was really interesting to hear him talk about some of the stumbles and fumbles that they made as a company, and how they have corrected and moved forward.

So we’ll link to that. I believe there should be a replay. It was through a YouTube live, which I thought was really interesting. So hopefully we can link to that, as well, and I think everyone can benefit from that.

But we’re going to talk a little bit about what we are looking at in our businesses. Admittedly, we will be imperfect. We may say things today that in a week {laughs} we cringe at. And what I want to do is introduce this topic in a way; we have an assumption that a large majority of our listeners are white women. So I want to put that out there. Because I think whenever we talk about these topics, it’s really important, as I’m learning as well, in the communities where I am learning about this, that we do kind of lay that foundation. That we see you; we know there are black women who listen to this show. I know I have some members of my Beautycounter team who listen to this show, and they love it. Hey Regina, I know you’re listening. {laughs} Just to name one.

But I do think it’s important that we make that statement that we know that largely this is our audience. So when we say, “We can do better”, “We need to do this”, we do know that largely we are talking to white women and we want to make that statement of understanding that when we look at anti-racism work, it is primarily work that as white people, this is our work to do. That doesn’t mean it’s not for everyone in some way, of just attention and consideration. But that’s kind of the big piece of ownership that as white people we have not seen this.

We have not taken responsibility for it as Rachel’s quote says. We’ve not really taken responsibility for it, even if we were sensitive and aware and thoughtful people. I think this has just been a huge awakening and reckoning of the country, and very specifically I think, in the health and wellness communities. We’re stepping up, and I’m seeing that a lot. Because we care about people. And we want to make sure that we’re identifying or acknowledging this blind spot that we’ve all been shown recently.

And admittedly, I have been personally digging into this work for several years. But I was trying to describe it to my Instagram community. I’m like; in the scheme of things, that’s basically one day before anyone else. That few years of my own awakening to my white privilege and what that meant in terms of my life; I only was scratching the surface of what that meant for my business, even in the last year. So I don’t want anyone to think that just because I had paid any attention to this before that means I’m ahead. I just had literally the equivalent of a day before paying attention to this. So I just want to make that clear. That if it at all sounds like; well, she’s been doing this for a while. No. We’re all newborn babies figuring this out right now.

2. Where we’ve been in our business [6:35]

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok. So Cassy and I started chatting; which, by the way, welcome back to the show. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: Thank you!

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s been a minute.

Cassy Joy: It’s been a minute. It’s so good to see you.

Diane Sanfilippo: Welcome back to the floor of your closet.

Cassy Joy: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: To record this episode.

Cassy Joy: I can sit on it again. I can fit in here again. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh my goodness! That’s so wild. I remember the last episode we recorded together and you were like; ok. Actually I don’t think you were in the closet, because you were like; I actually can’t sit on the floor anymore. That’s going to be a problem. But I’m so glad you’re back. We started a conversation on Voxer, which is how we talk very often. And we were just kind of brain storming, and then we said; wait a minute. Let’s just grab the mikes and start recording. Because we want this to be pretty raw and just say the things.

So, Cassy, I know you’ve been thinking about this a bunch. I’ve been thinking about this a bunch. Do you want to kick off, or do you want me to start with a kickoff of just little pieces of our own awareness and where we’ve been and where we’re going?

Cassy Joy: You can start there. I’m happy to weigh in.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok. I’ll give a little bit of background of where we’ve been in terms of as a company. So I’m not going to get into this too much in detail of my personal journey and experience with anti-racism work. I will say as background; I believe it was several years ago, and I think this was one of the biggest awakening moments for me, just in the area of white privilege. Which is not the same as really dialing into this anti-racism work in our businesses. I think it’s super important to observe and identify and acknowledge white privilege, and that allows us to move forward, I think, with the anti-racism work.

But for me, just so you guys have this background. I had lost my driver’s license. I think I was traveling from New Jersey to San Francisco on a trip. I was living in New Jersey at the time. Lost my driver’s license. And was like; oh shoot. Well I have to fly back home. And this isn’t the epitome of white privilege; but it was a huge eye opener, ah-ha moment. Just; I don’t know.

I got to the airport after reading; ok, get there extra early, all of these things. Be careful, etc. I felt like I had a VIP escort through security. Like, it literally felt like the opposite of a problem to not have my ID. Basically somebody walked me through. Yeah, they had to do the pat down, all of that. But I essentially got through it faster than I would have with my license. And it was not lost on me that that experience would not have been the same for a person of color; specifically a male of color, but even any black person, that would not have been the same.

And of course, in an airport, I think there are other things that go on in terms of racist tendencies, as well. So that was just a moment for me where I was like; holy cow. That was my whiteness really operating for me. So I just wanted to share that, because I think some people haven’t had a moment where they kind of opened their eyes. Anyway. That was it for me.

Also, there were a lot of other issues that were arising in the Bay area, and just kind of opening my eyes to a lot of different things. I took a course with Rachel Cargle several years ago, and that also truly opened my eyes to a lot of things. But, that being said, it did not put me in a place where I was really examining my business. So I want to just share that. Just because we started thinking and opening our eyes to things; it doesn’t mean we shook our own worlds completely to say, how can we shift the power? How can we look at doing better? So I just wanted to give that background.

So I’ve had this awareness. Last year in November or December, we did a campaign around Giving Tuesday. So we have Black Friday; which it’s named as such because companies go from the red to into the black, so it’s unrelated to racism. But that’s just an accounting term. So Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and then companies do Giving Tuesday.

So for Giving Tuesday last year, what we did as a company what we did was donated to the Loveland Foundation. Which was founded by Rachel Cargle. And it provides mental health and therapy services to black women, young women, etc. So that was kind of dipping our toe in the water as a company. “How can we find ways to give back to foundations that are really meaningful and doing great work. So that was one little toe dip.

Representation efforts. That’s something that I had had a conversation with my team around again last year when we were talking about creating these little ads that we did on Instagram. I call it an ad, because it wasn’t just a typical Instagram post. It wasn’t like a paid campaign or anything. But basically just saying; when we go to look for stock photography, let’s look at all different kinds of people. We’re not selling meals and spices only to white people. And I think it would be so blind to not pull in other kinds of people. That’s just crazy.

But so often, we forget to do that. Because when we search; and I believe there’s a book called Algorithms of Oppression. But so often when we search for a photo, or we search for information, some of the first information we’re presented with is very whitewashed. So we might search for a photo of someone making a pie, for example, and the first 10 images we’re presented with might not be any people of color. So those are things to just be aware of.

So we started to make efforts in representation. Further to that, I had some conversations with a friend who works in diversity and inclusion. I said, “Hey, is the way I’m presenting this; does this seem to feel right?” Just trying to get a second opinion because I know that my opinion is not going to be the end all, be all on this. And really finding ways to not just have the representation, but share a point of view that shares this person living joyfully, and as a happy, productive family, and it’s not about just having the face. It’s about really making sure that we have a positive story that’s being told there. So that’s one of the things I’ve heard a lot from the black communities. It’s like; sometimes we share too much around negativity, and we don’t share enough of the joy. And it was just really about; what’s the story that we can show here that’s a really uplifting story, or representation.

And then inclusivity efforts as a brand. This is something that’s really important to us. And we had never; I’ll admit. I say we. I had never really thought of it as much of a racial thing as I did just inclusivity for anyone. Because I know that some of the products that we sell are out of a price range for some people. And look, there’s always going to be some of that when it comes to business. Unless you’re starting a certain type of business where the products can be sold very inexpensively, or at any price.

Like, if you have a service, that’s totally up to you to price it how you want to. But when it comes to a product; I can’t have a business where I just price the spices wherever I want just so people can afford them at every price point. Because they have a cost to them. And I can’t change that cost, until maybe the business grows. You know what I mean? So there are some fixed barriers there for me, as the business owner.

That being said, we have always had this intention around; we want to be inclusive so that if someone comes to Balanced Bites there’s something they can get from us no matter how much money they might have. We can help them with something. And that begins with education and information; whether it’s health education, whether it’s recipes. You don’t have to buy the spice blends, the recipes are in a lot of our books and maybe those have a one-time price and then you can make them as many times as you want. Etc., etc. So that’s been a consideration. That being said, it didn’t go really much deeper than that at the time.

So, that’s kind of where I want to start. Is sort of, where we’ve been as a company and a brand. And at this point, the way I see my brand is largely in creating products. We have two lines of products right now, and obviously that kind of free space is we do share recipes, education, information, etc. But not largely content creation. Which is, I think really where, at this moment, the primary root of what your business is creating is a lot of content. So maybe you can share a little bit about where you’ve been, and then maybe next we can get to where we are in this moment, and then we can talk about where we’re headed.

Cassy Joy: Ok. That sounds good. I mean, where I’ve been is very similar to, I think the sentiment you’ve already echoed. I’m in a business that is created because we care about people. However, it was a huge blind spot that my unknown bias; what is it called? {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. Like an unconscious bias.

Cassy Joy: Unconscious bias. Thank you.

Diane Sanfilippo: Which the world is stacked that way right now.

Cassy Joy: Oh, sure. And I’m going to continue to have unconscious biases in every which way direction. And I recognize that. This was a huge blind spot of mine, though. I didn’t even think that my content could be hurtful to anybody. So that’s kind of where I’ve been. We were operating in this protected bubble of my privilege, not thinking that anything that I could be putting out that could help one group of people; other white women, right? Could potentially be harmful to black women, people of color, people who are not exactly like me.

So that was a massive awakening with regards to my business. And the team; I think we all got there kind of on the same page. Went through this huge realization of our own white privilege and what that meant in our business. And we just put the pause on everything.

I think what convicted me the most was, not only if I can do better, I must do better. But also the thought that I needed to get up to speed, at least a little bit, so that I didn’t cause more harm. I’m going to continue to make mistakes like you said eloquently at the beginning of this episode. I’m going to continue to make mistakes, and I want to be held accountable for those. But if there’s something I can do to kind of edge out the majority of the hurtful words or content that I could put out, that’s what I wanted to do. So, that’s kind of where we’ve been.

And also a product of new life going on. But that’s where we’ve been. Fed and Fit has been a vehicle for empowering healthy lifestyles. That is everything that underscores all of our content. And no where in that does it specify a specific demographic or a specific type of person. In our hearts, we mean all people. So that’s what we’re out to do. Really right size that.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. I think that’s kind of where a lot of entrepreneurs in the wellness space have been. And then I think to wake up to the fact that; wow, we just didn’t realize what we weren’t seeing. I think that’s so important.

3. Impact matters over intention [18:40]

Diane Sanfilippo: So to your note about the thoughtfulness around not wanting to cause more harm, or unintentionally just use words that maybe were; wow, if I had spent two days reading, I’d have known to word it this way or that way. So I just want to touch on this briefly, because I did say it in the introduction. But you and I were both talking about how where we are right now, and writing essentially blog posts/letters to our readers and customers, etc. I made a choice not to send a separate email to our customers about this in particular, because truthfully, the customers that we’ve had who follow me on social media. Which is not everyone. Not everyone who is shopping with us is following me as a person. But those who have, which is a large percentage. They’ve been on this ride with me for a while. This is not the first time I’ve talked about white privilege, and race relations, and things like that.

But, I think that I didn’t want to send it as a separate email because everyone is suddenly getting an email about this from every single company. But, we did address it in terms of what we’re doing with a new product launch. Anyway, I want to come back because I’m losing my train of thought. But I will come back.

So, we both kind of were taking some time to write these posts or letters or whatever it is that we wanted to say to our communities. And I think it’s really something to just observe that we have this great thoughtfulness about what we want to say. So we’re going to take our time and not just rush. And you were kind of joking about how quickly you normally work, but in a thoughtful way of; I’m not just going to breeze through this post. I really want to give it my time and attention and thoughtfulness as best I can.

So I want to share that with people; this might be a topic that does give you a little more pause than others, and appreciate the thoughtfulness in that. And then remember that perfect is still the enemy of the good in this case. Because by trying to do it perfectly, you will not do it. And that’s all of us; not Cassy, anyone. I kind of suffer from that same paralysis in the moment of; how do I say this the best way possible. That people understand my intentions, that I don’t cause more harm.

So I’m just kind of reiterating the fact that we might put out a letter or a post, and we still might do something wrong, and someone might actually tap our shoulder and say; “Hey Diane. Hey Cassy. I see what you’re trying to do, but this part right here needs a little work and maybe wasn’t really right.” And I think the thing we all need to own, if you are a white woman listening to this, or white passing, or experience, or enjoy any sort of white privilege in this world, that we need to stay humble.

And I do think it’s just important to remember that if somebody is experiencing pain, that we have inadvertently caused, that the impact matters sometimes more than the intention. That’s something I really had to take to heart in the last year, thinking about the way we move around on social media. Because I sometimes forget how powerful my own words can be in different situations. And there have definitely been times where someone is like; Diane, that really hit me hard, and I feel like that was more intense than it needed to be.

I mean, story of my life. Type 8, super direct, steam roller type of person. And the last several years, really trying to reign in that power to hold some responsibility around the way I use my words. because I recognize how important it is to know that the impact matters more than the intention in a lot of cases, if you have caused harm. That doesn’t mean that you’re not a good person. It doesn’t mean that you didn’t have a good intention. It means, don’t get defensive. Thank someone for letting you know. And then do right by them. Or ask them, how can I fix this. What would make this fixed in your eyes. What would be the best way for me to right this for you. And I think that’s something that’s really hard for a lot of us. We’re so prideful. And we’re so prideful about our positive intent, that we often lose sight of the fact that; if we cause harm, let’s just own it. And it’s ok.

So, I just want to give everyone permission around that, to show up and do this no matter what. And yes, take the beat to listen. because two days a week, two weeks of learning, is a ton. You will learn so much. Like, how many of us learned recently that saying black is ok, and in fact better than saying African American, when you may not know that somebody is actually from Africa? They may not be from Africa, but they may be black. So I feel like, to the black women listening, you’re like; yeah, obviously. And to the white women we’re like; we didn’t know. We didn’t know.

Cassy Joy: Mm-hmm.

Diane Sanfilippo: So, you’re thoughts?

Cassy Joy: Yes. That’s a great point. I do want to add something to what you were saying earlier about not being paralyzed by fear, or wanting something to be perfect before you publish it. Because A, you may never publish it if you’re trying to make it perfect. And B, if you want to make it perfect in as benign as possible, it’s likely that you’re going to put out something that’s so watered down, that it’s not actually meaningful.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s a really good point.

Cassy Joy: Because we’re all watching. We’re all watching what businesses are doing right now. And what kind of statements are they making. And I can’t tell you; Diane, you said something on Voxer the other day in a different group we’re in. You’re like; 2020 is the year we see who is behind the curtain of all these businesses. And I’m not saying that these businesses are not dynamic, and they can’t come and do something differently in the future. But it has been very interesting to see the public statements that different businesses have made.

Some have been very specific and very bold and very, I think they put a lot of thought into their statements, and they might be making mistakes but they’re making them boldly and they’re owning them boldly. And then there’s other companies who are like; we’re going to put out 100 words on this, because we’re afraid if we do any more, who knows what could happen. and I understand that intent to not want to cause harm, but I also think it seems to me more of a PR type self-protection than really trying to do something meaningful with their statement and their words.

So I would assess. Are you doing something just because you feel like you have to, and you’re trying to put out something that’s as benign as possible and watered down and not meaningful? Then I would challenge you to do more. I challenge you to be as specific and bold as possible.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. And this is something I learned from Rachel Cargle especially. She’s one of maybe three; two in particular. Layla Saad is the other one I’ve learned a lot from. And when I say that; even having gone to a workshop with Rachel Cargle. I cried my white woman tears and was so embarrassed for my ignorance. I was so embarrassed. I don’t cry easily. And I was like, I was just; there was no other word. Shame and embarrassment. She really hammered home this concept of, especially as white women, we really have nothing to lose by standing up for what’s right.

And when you think more deeply into that; if there’s a family member or a friend, etc., etc. Is that a loss? If that person decides to distance themselves? Or maybe you really holding your ground on something that is meaningful to you will cause a shift in that person. And I’ve heard stories where they’re like; you know what? My dad felt this way before and he really hadn’t thought of it differently, but at the thought of losing contact with his daughter over it, he really reconsidered it.

And listen; I’m not telling everyone to just go disown your families. But I really think that recognizing we have nothing to lose. As a white female business owner, I really could not care less if somebody sees my stance on what it means to say Black Lives Matter, not being particular to any specific organization or another or who the money is going to, etc. Because I think there’s been a lot of confusion around that, but that’s another topic. But to say those words, and to say we do stand with that, I would rather people who don’t like that not be shopping with my brand. Because they’re just not going to jive with everything that I talk about forever.

And frankly, if it wasn’t clear enough by labeling my spices as a rainbow and arranging them such on the website, we are for everyone in terms of who we feel inclusive around and all of that.

I want to just call out specifically Ben and Jerry’s, is one of those companies that is boldly unapologetic; this is not day one for them. They have been here for a long time in this conversation. And their website; if you go to their homepage, it’s like, here’s who we are. Articles on their website include five questions about reparations answered, 12 ways you can help eradicate white supremacy, then it’s three ways to avoid turning climate change into the next global crisis.

Look; silence is not an option. They have been a social justice-oriented company for as long as I know. But it’s almost like; you know, when there’s a moment that you’re going to speak up on it, you speak up on it. And listen; I get it that there are probably some really big companies that don’t know what to say. And saying something is often better than saying nothing if it is the true values of your company. But then of course we’re watching; what’s next. What are you going to back it up with? Because just saying it is one thing, and doing it is another.

Now, if you’re a super small business owner; most of you listening probably don’t have a huge following. Some of you may. We’re trying to really know our audience here. We’re not saying everybody needs to write a letter to their readers or their followers. And we can talk about this more as we move forward, because we are going to add a question to when we bring some guests on to interview them. This is the conversation we had ahead of this call; you know, we want to ask people the same questions. All of them the same handful of questions, so that we can just get a really great feel for people and their business. And now this is something that’s been brought to our attention. Hey, we should ask them what they’re doing, how they’re handling things, and how they’re going to do better in their business.

Anyway. That was one. I don’t know if there’s any companies we want to call out on the other side, but I will say. What’s it called? Pull Up For Change? There’s an account that, I think it was specifically for the beauty industry initially. But I think it’s expanding to a lot of different companies. Where this Instagram account is just kind of saying; show us what your organization is made of. Show us who is in your organization. Who is in your leadership? What kind of breakdown do you have in terms of diversity? And it seems to be; they’re not really saying anything one way or another, they’re just saying; tell us what’s happening right now so that we can have that transparency, and I’m presuming there will be something in the future in terms of; ok, what are you doing to balance that out.

I would presume relative to the population. I would think a company should, at the very least, be a representative of the population. There’s no rule to be like; you should be X percentage of this or that. But I would say; if it’s not representative of what’s out there, and I could be wrong but that’s kind of my assumption.

Cassy Joy: That makes a lot of sense.

4. Where we are now in our business [30:23]

Diane Sanfilippo: So, where we are now, in terms of Balanced Bites. Here’s something that I had not considered at all. And I had kind of; I don’t want to say buried my head in the sand, but had just been like; that’s the situation. In thinking about when we have a job opening, or when we have work that can be done by a contractor, we had solely really listed the job on our website and through social media.

Now, I will say, in defense of that approach, over the years, the candidates that I’ve had apply who know my business. And just, obviously then, if I look at the breakdown of who is in my audience, it is largely white. But I have found that if somebody knows my business, the transition to getting to work and doing things in the business has been better. Because I have hired from an outside company before, and it just didn’t seem to work as well.

So that was kind of, I think, imposing more of a blind spot for me on what I could benefit from in terms of our organization and our point of view, and how we see the world, by saying, I should actually seek out candidates through resources and websites that have a more diverse population.  Because if my following is mostly white people, then of course mostly white people are applying. And I don’t think I’ve ever; I don’t remember noticing certain names or anything like that. It doesn’t… maybe that’s my privilege. It hasn’t occurred to me that I’ve ever seen two qualified candidates and had any feeling whatsoever on what their name was. So I can’t identify that having happened. But I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten to a point where I’ve interviewed someone who was black. Just on a video interview. And I don’t think that’s by virtue of anything in terms of qualifications or whatnot, I just think it’s our applicant pool has been our community. And our community has obviously not been diverse enough.

So I need to make a concerted effort, when I go to hire again, that we do cast a wider net, or that we are much more specific in saying; where are there some places I could say, hey is there a community board here to share this job listing? So that kind of thing. I don’t know, it just didn’t occur to me before. It was like; this is how I list my jobs. But hello; face palm. Duh.

And so that’s kind of in the background, and that’s actually not going to happen that often, because we don’t hire that often. We’re not that big of a company. We don’t have that opportunity as often as we would on the front side. Actively seeking out a more diverse community to support and feature when it comes to things like working with influencers, people who are contributing recipes. Maybe when we have people who are affiliates who are promoting things like meals and spices and all of that.

And we have done that to some degree; just by virtue of my own friends. I mean, my closest friends are a very diverse group of women. Those are the people, you know, whether it’s someone like you, or my friend Jenni, or Naomi, or Charlotte. That’s a cross section of all different types of women, not just white women. But, really making a concerted effort to say; how can we reach out in different communities?

And next step beyond that, I have kind of pie in the sky thoughts around; are there ways I could work collaboratively. And this is; I just don’t know what I’m capable of financially. So I don’t want to say this, and then someone is like; well you said you were going to do this! These are my pie in the sky dreams. Wouldn’t it be cool to create a spice blend that has a background in African flavors? But it’s done in collaboration, and in a way that will benefit a community in a certain way, where we’re not just taking the profits from that, we’re not just appropriating. We’re saying; who can we work with that has this expertise, and this flavor profile, and then how can we take the funds that we generate from it and give it back.

Because that’s a way to use business for good, and not just say we’re going to capitalize on this. But to say; we have an audience that might love these flavors. It’s not my culture to introduce you to. So I need to work with someone who’s culture it is, and then further from that say, what’s the organization that creator perhaps.

So that’s where my mind always goes. I always think that way, of what can we do that’s bigger and out there? And then I have to also bring myself back down to earth and say; ok Diane. We’re not in that place yet with your business. But maybe, sooner than later.

So where we right now, as well, just kind of my last point, is we did this with COVID where we made a way for us; I took $5000 just of my own money, and I was like, we’re giving this. And then, hey community, do you guys want to contribute? Whether you’re buying meals or not, do you want to contribute meals to health care workers? Because that was just a glaring need at the moment. And now obviously this is something that’s an ongoing need. So finding ways to not only give back of our own revenue, but we just installed an app on the Spices website. We’ll get it over to the Meals site soon. To allow people at checkout to just round up their order, and have their donation go to an organization. Or maybe they add a little bit more. Whatever they want to do.

But basically make a way so that our customers can see some organizations that we feel strongly about. And it’s not mandatory, but just giving people that opportunity. I always love that, when someone is like, yeah, sure. I’ll just round up 50 cents. Make it really easy for people to not only see what we care about as a company and what we stand for, but to also take part. And I think that that’s really important, when you have a business. Giving people that opportunity. Because I’m sure we’ve both seen it. When somebody asks us, almost every time we’re like; yeah, ok. Sure. Here. You know what I mean? But we have to be asked. We have to be invited to participate in that ability to give back.

Cassy Joy: Ok. Where we are at in Fed and Fit as a company is, currently, we’re just doing a major deep dive on education. We’re trying to learn as much as possible. We are roughly forming plans to move forward in the future. And that’s where we’re at.

It’s an interesting stage right now, because we have so much; especially with my being on maternity leave. Baby girl will be 8 weeks old in a few days. And we’ve built content for about 3 months of maternity leave. And the team has been working the whole time that I’ve been out. So it’s just interesting, because we have all of this content that I want to, and the whole team, wants to pause, reconsider, recollect. We have partners that we have, and we want to do an audit of all of our partners. Right? So just make sure that our current content is in line with how we see our role in the world right now, and moving forward.

So that’s an interesting riddle. But we’re learning. We’re reading. We’re listening. We’re watching documentaries. Listening to podcasts. and that’s not really; that’s just the educational piece of the work. When we’re really getting down to it, is what’s coming next. And that’s implementing all the things that we’ve learned, or as much as we can implement as possible. And then committed to continue learning. So that’s really where we’re at.

And Fed and Fit in general; I’ve been really quiet on social media, if you’ve noticed. And part of that is because I’m very distracted with my own personal life. Understandably, right? I mean, I’m in the middle of taking care of my family. But also, like I said before, not wanting to unknowingly cause more harm and knowing that it’s better; to be really honest with y’all, everything is down right now. Which I have peace around, and that’s important. Because that’s worth the cost of what it takes for us to pause, and learn, and not cause more harm. So that’s where we’re at. I’ve been really quiet.

I’ve gotten lots of messages; people wanting to know if I’m ok {laughs} and if anything has happened. And so I did a little; hey, all is well over here kind of note the other day. But I think it’s important to be able to tell our community; this is where we’re at. And this is where we see ourselves going. And then we will be able to start with what is going to be our new normal going forward.

5. Where we are going in our business [39:26]

Diane Sanfilippo: That sounds good. So, let’s talk a little bit about where we are going. What is kind of the future of what you’re hoping to lay out. And I don’t want to make this like; ok, this is in stone, because we’re all learning and trying to do the best we can. And a lot of these plans that we make; you were saying this on our quick chat before this. You’re not going to see everything that people who are really digging into the work. You’re not going to see it today or tomorrow. It’s not going to be on our Instagram. Right? {laughs} It’s going to be behind the scenes. A lot of heart change. A lot of thought process change.

And a lot of the work that we all do, it takes a long time to actually come out. But that doesn’t mean it’s not being done. And I think that’s really important to remember. And that we not jump into things like cancel culture, and have these expectations that are unrealistic. Because sustainable change doesn’t happen overnight. Really implementing change.

So I just want to highlight Chris Kresser made a really beautiful statement on his Instagram about seeing things totally differently and addressing things differently with his business, with his practitioner program. I really applaud him. He has always been; I don’t put anyone on a pedestal. People can all make a mistake, and I’m not going to publicly cancel everyone or whatever. But he’s just one of those men who has always been really upstanding. Has never; I don’t know. Has never been {laughs} gross. I don’t know how else to explain it. I don’t have a more eloquent word.

There are a lot of problematic people in the health space, and he’s a person who I just always am like; you know what? I think he’s going to do the right thing. And he really always does. And it’s not about politics. And it’s not about my standards or whatever. It’s just about being a good human. And he put something out there that really was deeply thoughtful. And I think you guys should listen to it, because when you hear it, you will hear what I’m saying now. None of that is stuff that you will see on his Instagram tomorrow or next week or next month. It’s going to take time.

But it’s about real change when you open your eyes to where we’ve been, and not being defensive about the fact that newborn baby deer, you know. Oh my goodness, I haven’t done anything about this. I’m waking up, and now I will. And that’s ok.

So what are some of the things that are kind of on your plate, as a moving forward point?

Cassy Joy: Ok. Like you said, Fed and Fit is different from Balanced Bites in particular. So Fed and Fit, if you’re new here, is really a content; it’s an online editorial. A content machine. And we partner; we have already started to be very selective in 2020 with the companies that we partner with. And this is bringing that scrutiny into a whole new light. But we partner with big brands. I have a small team of three other women that I work with that are full time Fed and Fit employees. And then myself; I would be the fourth. And we are primarily recipes on the website. But we do a lot of lifestyle articles. We educate on meal prep, all kinds of things. So, that’s the context.

So, one of the things that we’re looking at. This is in no particular order. I just made notes from the letter I had written that has not been published yet. But number one I want to do; I actually spend a considerable amount of money on products to vendors. So let’s say, for example, I’m making bags. Shopping bags, like I did promotional bags for Cook Once, Eat All Week, my second book. You know, this is a conviction I want all of you to also carry through. Because this is an easy one, I think, a low-hanging fruit to implement.

We can vote with our dollars who we’re supporting when we’re buying things like that. It’s easy to just pull up and say; click the first brand that you see. But jut like we buy fair trade coffee, and chocolate. And just like I buy organic dairy, because I really believe in the organic dairy industry. I can vote with my dollars and I can support black owned businesses that are doing a phenomenal job that maybe I would not, because of my unconscious bias, not have gravitated towards in the past. I can really support that community by putting dollars into those businesses. So that’s what we’re looking at. Beautycounter; for example, mugs and T-shirts and all kinds of things. I can vote with my dollars. Lucky and Lovely is an example of a business.

The next one on my list is bring in content creators who can authentically share and speak to their own cuisine. Cultural appropriation of dishes is actually a big issue in the food editorial world. And just to give you a very brief; and y’all, I’m definitely not an expert on this. I’m learning it alongside you, just like Diane said. We’re all babies together. And we’re blind to the things that we didn’t see or know and realize until you know better. But by publishing a recipe that is a significant cuisine of another country, another culture, and claiming it as something that is your own, that you’re profiting off of without really giving any credit. Without redirecting the income that could come from that kind of exposure back to that community, is cultural appropriation. So we really want to be mindful of that.

Again, like Diane said, this isn’t something you’re going to see right away. But I want to bring in content creators into the fold; whether they become part time, as contractors for Fed and Fit to help write these, and we compensate very fairly for their work. Or I bring them in the fold as full time people who can really speak and write and create recipes specific to their culture and their heritage and very specific things.

Diane Sanfilippo: Can I add something to that too?

Cassy Joy: Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: When we look at; when you were talking about vendor money, and then previously talking about sponsorships. I’ve been thinking, too, about brands that; and I don’t really want to take part in this moment and call out culture. But there’s at least one brand that’s been on my mind where the product that they sell has very clear cultural roots. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the only place those foods or ingredients have been used is in one culture, but it very obviously has a significant rooting in one culture. And I did some digging. I was like; is anyone who founded this company of that culture? And I couldn’t. It was white women. And what is white culture, aside from white supremacy, I don’t really know. It’s a confronting thought.

But that occurred to me. Where I was like; you know what? I’m going to be more conscious about not supporting that brand particularly when I want to support this type of food product. I’m going to make an effort to seek out a brand that is founded by people of that culture. Or, if to your point, as a company they were saying we are very specifically redirecting X amount of our revenue or profit to, you know, this organization that serves this community, etc. Do you know what I’m saying? Those are just levels of awareness that we can all have. Just like when we were talking about changing over your products to cleaner, safer products. It’s not going to happen overnight. But now that you’re aware, you can do better.

And to your point about buying products, like branded products. It might not have just been your fault that the first page was all results that were not black owned businesses. That’s part of that algorithm bias, as well. Where certain brands and businesses. Maybe they had more money to spend on ads from the beginning. So what gets presented to us; we often have to dig deeper. And I think that is where we’re starting to see that ownership. Ok. Sorry. I just thought those were great points.

Cassy Joy: That’s great. I’m glad you underscored all of those. The next one I have on here is diversifying my own mentorship, which is very important. Like Diane said; yes, I have a diverse friend group. But my friends, while they do pour into my life, and I believe I am a part of all that I have met, and all that I love. Yes, they are a part of me. But when I’m seeking out business mentorship, I want somebody that really has a totally different perspective than I have, and a totally different background than I have. And I’ve already invested; she’s actually a friend of mine who has a coaching business. But why not bring in that extra perspective? And compensate my friend for coaching in an official capacity. But diversify my mentorship.

Because if I think about it, the people who are keeping up with my business are a lot of people that are white. Several of them male. And with the exception, my dad is a white-passing Hispanic man who has built this business. And yes, he has experienced his own kind of racial discrimination, which is a big part of his story, and also a big part of his business; it’s different. He’s not in the wellness space. And he doesn’t understand, necessarily. He’s working. He’s also a baby. But getting up to speed on what’s going on in the world. So, diversify my own mentorships, specifically with a black woman who is coming on as a coach for me right now, who I’m compensating very well. Which, I want all of you to consider that. Don’t just go out and start asking for free advice.

Implement diversity and inclusion training for my team. I don’t have a plan for this yet. I’m currently looking at all of the companies that offer this, but I’m going to bring in a real deal diversity and inclusion trainer. And this is going to be a part of Fed and Fit’s culture.

Something that Rachel Rodgers said in that article that we’re going to link to, how to create diversity within your online business at HelloSeven.co, is as a new company; as a young, smaller company, you actually have the luxury of creating a culturally diverse business now. This is great. Fed and Fit is teeny, right? I mean, there’s four of us that are just spinning and trying to create something big. Which is great. That’s an awesome opportunity to start this from the ground up and weave this into who we are moving forward. This is a harder adjustment if you have hundreds and thousands of people that work for you. So I just want you to know that that’s a great thing. So I’m going to start this training now.

Like Diane said; I’m going to echo that. We’re rethinking where we post job applications, and pay to post in diverse forums that are different from before. Just like Diane; when we posted a job application, it went on www.FedandFit.com to all of our white women readers. Right? And it went on my social media, which is probably also a bunch of white women. Because that’s the content we put. And that’s, when you pull up my profile, that’s who you see. And you follow the things that you feel comfortable with, and that’s really all we were speaking to. And then also I would share them at colleges and universities that were nearby, but again, those were all very privileged universities in predominantly white neighborhoods.

Fed and Fit foundation. We’re starting something called the Fed and Fit Foundation. I’ll go into this later, but this has been on my heart for years. And it’s something that we’re really going to kick off later this year. But it’s in the amoeba phase, and I’m not quite sure what that’s going to look like. Like Diane said, I donated $5000 actually also of my own money during COVID. And then again in the month of June towards anti-racist groups who are really out there doing the good work.

I was like; I don’t know what else to do right now, because like she said, you’re not going to see change in my organization right away. I’m starting these conversations with my family. I’m buying the books so my children have them on their bookshelves, and we can use them as conversation pieces. And I can learn. But I can donate money right now to the people who do know what to do. Right? So that’s a piece that falls under the Fed and Fit Foundation. We’re going to be doing good every single month, and pick a different initiative.

And then I am also, with regards to Beautycounter. If you don’t know, Diane and I both lead very sizeable Beautycounter businesses. And we have weekly training; a 30-minute call with my Beautycounter team. And every single week, we are having a segment in every single one of those calls on diversity and inclusion. Because there are so many blind spots, especially in the beauty industry. And I have a responsibility to be able to make change there.

And then the last thing that I’m doing is I really want to invite other online influencers, or you, listening. Even if you don’t self-identify yet as an online influencer, if you think of yourself as an entrepreneur, then this is for you. I want to invite you, especially those of us in the food and wellness space, to do the same. Look at your own organization, however large or small you might think it is, and assess your own impact. I want you to weigh it carefully. Consider how you too can really affect meaningful change.

6. Tip of The Week: Mentors from afar [52:51]

Cassy Joy: Tip of the week. In this segment, we give you one tip you can take action on this week to move your business or life forward.

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, well I’ll give you guys a tip this week. And I just need to say again how much I love hearing you read that.

Cassy Joy: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I just really love your voice. So, to piggyback off of what Cassy said about having more diversity in her own mentorship, I think; we don’t all need to have a lot of extra funds to be able to get mentorship from afar is what I’m going to call it. Now, to your point, Cassy, we don’t want to send people to follow others; especially black women, who are teaching about anti-racism. Or just anyone. Maybe you decide; I’m going to follow some new entrepreneurs that I haven’t followed before. And we’re sharing some over on The Driven Podcast Instagram account, as well. Some content creators and business owners that we all can learn from.

So, just following from afar. What do they share? What can they teach you? What is it that we as a collective really can be learning from each other? And I think we have to make a concerted effort. And I think that’s part of what happened in a little bit of that Blackout Tuesday, and the pause to amplify melanated voices. We started following tons of people. And that doesn’t mean that you’re going to resonate with everyone. But I have tried over the years to consistently follow people who I’m like; I think I might like their content. And then maybe over time, it’s not what I was looking for. And that’s ok. But what that does is it helps to expose you to a lot of things that you were just in a whitewashed Instagram before. And there’s a whole other world that we can all learn from.

So whether that’s going to be mentors in business, maybe you just want to follow other plant ladies like I do, who do not just look like you. I think we can all just learn so much from that, and our lives will be enriched, and we will then be opened up to seeing a whole other world. And I think, as much as we can do to kind of defeat the default of the algorithm is always going to be helpful.

Again, then maybe we will share our job openings to our websites and to these other sources. But maybe someone will come in through our website and our audience as it stands. And maybe we will be able to have a more diverse audience by doing more work where we incorporate into all different kinds of places.

But I do want to say; I’ve said this before as I share different content creators; those of you who follow me on Instagram know that I have created very strong boundaries. I’m going to tell you right now, I’ve learned a lot of that watching black women anti-racist educators. Because they’re like; listen. I’m teaching you. I have books. Please don’t DM me for more labor. Many of them have said the same thing. Layla Saad and Rachel Cargle, again, are the two that I have learned the most from on that. And I’m like; I am learning even more about my own boundaries from them. Because we need to respect people for the work that they’re doing. We don’t climb behind the scenes and say; spoon-feed me, give me more. That’s just ridiculous.

But to that point, there’s so much we can learn by quietly following, listening, observing, seeing the conversation that’s happening, and just taking it all in. So we can diversify our Instagram feeds. That’s a free thing to do. Just watch. And diversify what I call those mentors from afar, where you’re following along, listening, and learning. And really kind of internalize that.

That’s it for Driven this week. If you liked this episode, be sure to subscribe in Apple podcast, on Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can follow us on Instagram @TheDrivenPodcast. Cassy is @FedandFit and I am @DianeSanfilippo.

Tune in next week where we will cover more topics that hopefully you love to hear about. We’ll see you then.

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