While we felt it was important to make a public statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, we are well aware that statements only go so far. This blog post will outline the initial steps we’ll be taking as we look both inward and outward in response to this vital movement. In keeping with the democratic workplace culture of Modern Times, we gathered ideas from our employee-owners and then conducted an internal poll of our 276-person team to decide where to place our emphasis.
We want to be very clear that this is just the beginning of our work here; we are not going to take the following steps and declare victory. We will remain ready to enact new ideas and approaches indefinitely. Like everyone, we have a lot of work to do--both inside and out--to live up to the values we hold.
So, here are the steps we’re committing to today:
1) Of the various action items polled, the clear winner was holding anti-oppression training for our staff, which our People Operations team has already been charged with scheduling as quickly as possible. This will be required training for all Modern Times employees. Anti-oppression training is a specific approach to addressing biases and power imbalances within groups that reflect society's broader hierarchies of oppression. If any of our peers in the industry want to learn about who work with on this and the results, please email email@example.com, and we’d be happy to share.
2) When it came to external action items, our team voted strongly to pursue collaborations with Black-owned breweries and roasters and to offer technical assistance (such as access to our lab) along the way. We have already begun working with our leadership teams to reach out and develop plans for these collaborations going forward. Of course, we will let our collaborators drive the timing and focus of these efforts, but we are eager to make this happen and have already identified a couple of great opportunities to contribute. Again, if you’re interested in participating in this, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
3) Developing caucuses representing BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and female employees to drive internal processes was broadly popular, as well. Our employee-ownership committee has already begun the discussion on how to implement this, and will be dedicating time in their upcoming meeting to figuring out the best approach to making this happen.
4) Leveraging our political influence and supporting grassroots movements drew a meaningful amount of support as well. On the legal/lobbying side, we will certainly look for any opportunities to weigh in with our elected representatives. In supporting grassroots movements, we will look for ways to support our employee-owners as participants in these movements. As per one of the wonderful suggestions we received, we will make an effort to offer our tasting room spaces (when allowed by public health rules) to support groups looking for a place to meet or hold an event, along with other ways of leveraging our resources. If you’re reading this as a leader/organizer of a movement group, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
5) Hiring a diversity, equity, & inclusion manager received a relatively high number of top priority votes, but results were more mixed on the focus scale. We can understand why this step might feel like a band-aid or a bureaucratic step to some people, but we believe the task internally requires it. Diversifying our company, ironing out internal processes, and addressing myriad social & cultural issues are major on-going projects that do not have an endpoint, which more than justifies the position. That said, we are currently in a hiring freeze--outside of backfills & opening Anaheim--due to the disastrous financial effects of COVID, so this hire will have to wait until finances allow for it.
6) Support for voting efforts and switching to vendors that more closely align with our values were generally popular, and so these efforts will continue, although with slightly less urgency than the steps listed above. Voting efforts will continue to focus on social media and voter registration drives, with additional efforts in merchandise and informational collateral. Seeking out new values-aligned vendors will be an on-going project for our procurement folks.
7) You’ll start seeing a simple reminder printed on the bottom of Modern Times cans -- Black Lives Matter. You’ll see this on the next million cans we produce out of Point Loma, to start. This effort holds no stated goal other than to remind folks exactly where we stand on this particular issue and to hopefully spur some important conversations.
8) Finally, another suggestion we received was to create a BIPOC internship program. This is a major undertaking that will take some time to put together properly, but we believe it's a truly valuable way for us to contribute our resources to diversifying our company and our industry as a whole. If this is an area where you as a reader have resources you think may be helpful to our efforts here, again, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are not experts here. And we will at times come up short in our efforts, both internally and externally. But we can say, without a doubt, that everyone on our team is doing their absolute best during this critical moment. It is our goal now to channel that intention into effective, lasting change.