Milk Bar stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement
CHECK BACK HERE FOR UPDATES ON MILK BAR’S COMMITMENT TO BETTERING OUR COMPANY FROM THE INSIDE OUT
Updates from Milk Bar:
JULY 31, 2020
Last week, we completed our 6th internal company forum, All About Donating! Below is an overview of the topics discussed company-wide, in an effort to learn, share, and grow.
- FORUM 1 - All About Voting: a discussion on the importance and impact of donating, sharing resources and voting dates and deadlines across all of our markets. In the past 6 weeks, we’ve also implemented 8 additional hours of PTO for voting.
- FORUM 2 - Internal & External Education: a deep dive into Black history and how it led to the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement. Also discussed was white privilege and allyship, and various educational resources for personal and family self-education were provided.
- FORUM 3 - Using Your Voice: a look at how Milk Bar has historically used our voice and how we vow to strengthen our efforts moving forward, as well as individual anecdotes from team members on how they use theirs. In the past 6 weeks, we’ve established a Legal Support Initiative at Milk Bar to help support those at the company who are protesting, and we’ve formed a Black Affinity Group at Milk Bar that will help ensure Black voices are heard and are affecting change within our own walls.
- FORUM 4 - Supporting the Black Community: a look at the history of Black corporate America and inequalities that Black professionals face, and ways both Milk Bar as a company and as individuals can support the Black community.
- FORUM 5 - Taking Care of Mental Health: led by guest speaker and therapist Jamila Bates, we took a deep dive into mental health, learning more about its impact on the Black community, as well as mental health support at Milk Bar and coping mechanisms and tips from team members. In the past 6 weeks, we have implemented flexible mental health PTO and discrimination and harassment hotline.
- FORUM 6 - All About Donating: a discussion of ways in which we can donate our time, money, skills and other resources, as well as goals for long term charitable partners and progress made so far. To date, we’ve made a corporate donation to Campaign Zero, and through the integration of a donation add-on on our website, thousands of customers have opted in to donate thousands of dollars and counting to Black Lives Matter and The Innocence Project.
While this series of forums are complete, our work is far from over. Within the next 4 weeks, we will:
- Assess company-wide feedback surrounding these forums in order to build a program for forums on an ongoing basis
- Conduct mandatory, company wide training on unconscious bias, diversity and inclusion, and microaggressions
- Conduct deep dive sessions with our Front of House and Customer Experience teams focused on mental health.
- Host Back of House management meetings on diversity and inclusion
- Confirm a long-term charitable partner and program
BAKE CLUB UPDATE: If you've been able to catch an installment of Christina's Bake Club (on her Instagram Live), you know that as the height of the pandemic began, she made a commitment to show up daily with an hour of inspiration, positivity and joy through baking. In an effort to uplift and amplify Black and POC voices, she also has brought on her friends and special guests to share recipes that they love, from author Kristina Gill, Queer Eye's Tan France, Bake Club members Eli & Jonah, student Jade Atkins from the Food & Finance School, and Milk Bar’s very own Meme Wilson sharing her family’s incredible pineapple casserole recipe.
Christina also hosted various fundraisers through Bake Club, through a partnership with The Peanut Board and a tie-dye bandana sale, benefiting organizations like the Food & Finance High School, Equal Justice Initiative and the ACLU.
While Bake Club’s daily format ended after day 101, starting on August 10th, you can expect to see the following from Bake Club:
- Live Bake Club sessions each Monday at 2pm EST on Christina’s Instagram Live, with a continued commitment to giving the Bake Club platform to diverse voices, whether it’s a special guest or guest host
- Additional baking content found on YouTube and through Christina’s Instagram, from Christina and friends
- Bake Club will also continue to highlight charitable organizations, donation and volunteer opportunities on an ongoing basis
JULY 1, 2020
In an effort to remain as transparent as possible, below is an up to date list of action steps, policy changes and progress made to date, in an effort to make Milk Bar a more inclusive and diverse place.
1. Protecting our people with internal policy changes:
- We have established weekly Black Lives Matter open forums for all active employees where anyone can share thoughts, concerns, and hear more from the company - each forum is dedicated to different topics, from Black history and Black Lives Matter education to how we can all use our voices.
- We have partnered with a third-party company to provide a hotline available to all active team members specifically for the purpose of reporting harassment and/or discrimination, in addition to our existing communication channels. We’re also working on adding more anonymous surveys for the team and physical comment boxes onsite at all flagship locations and commissaries.
- We will continue to roll out our unconscious bias training on a more frequent basis and expand this training to all team members, and are looking to add more D&I training similar to this, especially for our team members in leadership positions.
2. Shifting our structures:
- We have begun the creation of a Black affinity group and are building the structures for additional affinity groups to form in the near future.
- We are taking time to revitalize our hiring practices and make them more diverse by means of expanding our recruitment channels, looking at ways that we can introduce removing areas for bias from resume reviews and anonymizing job applications, and increasing our unconscious bias and D&I training for hiring managers and soon-to-be-hiring managers.
3. Empowering our team to vote, and making it easier for them to do so:
- We established an additional 8 hours of paid time off for employees to vote, register to vote, canvass, or volunteer in a campaign.
- We’ve shared resources internally and dedicated a forum entirely to voting so our team is more informed and motivated to vote.
4. Supporting the Black community:
- As a company and as individuals, we are committed to uplifting and amplifying Black voices and businesses, particularly in the food space. We have shared many resources to our active team members and our public around how they can support the Black community, too. We have a lot of work to do here, and like everything else, will continue to keep everyone as up to date as possible.
- We felt it was important to survey the entire company and hear from them where they’d like us to donate. The majority chose Campaign Zero, which we proudly donated to.
- We are working through some meaningful ways to partner with organizations long term, to not only donate money, but also our time, our resources, know-how, and access to our networks — this will not happen overnight, but we will keep everyone apprised on the latest.
- Along with our Campaign Zero donation made from the company as well as through our participation in Bakers Against Racism, we implemented a donation element on our website that allows anyone shopping there to add on a donation to either Black Lives Matter or The Innocence Project, also chosen by our team.
6. Empowering our team to use their voices:
- It’s more important than ever that our team feels empowered to use their voice - not only in supporting the Black Lives Matter movement (whether it be through protesting or sharing information on their personal feeds) but also within the walls of Milk Bar. For this reason, our weekly forums have been more critical than ever.
- We recently established The Milk Bar Legal Support Initiative to provide Milk Bar team members (many of whom are out protesting daily) with resources, legal aid connections, and help with legal fees associated with arrests made during peaceful protesting.
- We’ve also developed a Sponsorship Team, composed of directors and senior leaders, that team members can reach out to if for any reason they are not comfortable talking with their direct manager. This team will also be responsible for working with our team members to develop the Black affinity group listed above and holding the company accountable to short and long term D&I goals.
- We have also committed to educating the team and sharing educational resources that we hope will empower them to use their voices, now and always.
JUNE 20, 2020
#BakersAgainstRacism: On Saturday, June 20th, we are participating in Bakers Against Racism, a series of bake sales across the globe that benefits organizations fighting against systemic and structural racism. Stop by our New York East Village, Williamsburg and Upper West Side locations, or our LA location on Melrose, for a limited-edition PB&B Cookie (peanut butter, chocolate chips, banana!). All proceeds will be donated to Campaign Zero. Available while supplies last! For more information on Bakers Against Racism, visit www.bakersagainstracism.com
JUNE 17, 2020
It’s been a few days since we shared our statement in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We know that change needs to happen from the inside out, so we’ll be sharing what Milk Bar is doing with you here.
As of today:
- Milk Bar has made a donation to Campaign Zero, an organization working to end police brutality in America with research based policy solutions. To learn more about Campaign Zero, visit www.joincampaignzero.org
- We’ve implemented a function on our website that allows customers to add a donation to Black Lives Matter and/or The Innocence Project to their carts while they shop.
- Any employee of Milk Bar can take 8 hours of additional paid time off to vote, register to vote, canvass, or volunteer in a campaign. We will be modifying our store, kitchen, and office hours on election days. We want to empower our team to exercise their right to vote, and make it easier for them to do so.
- We have established The Milk Bar Legal Support Initiative, dedicated to providing Milk Bar team members with resources, legal aid connections, and help with legal fees associated with arrests made during peaceful protesting.
Much more from us soon. Thank you all for your support along the way!
JUNE 13, 2020
#PullUporShutUp: We chose to participate in the #PullUpOrShutup initiative in the spirit of transparency and accountability. We’ve always been proud to have a diverse team, but that’s not enough for us - we can’t be complacent in our status quo. We are wholeheartedly committed to bringing more Black and POC voices to our table, across the entire company. We look forward to sharing our progress and continuing to be transparent with you all as we make Milk Bar a more inclusive and representative place to work.
And 60% Female-identifying
Our leadership team (VP level and higher) is:
JUNE 3, 2020
Read our full statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement here.
To our community,
The past few days, our team has dedicated our time to listening, researching, and organizing. Milk Bar has not been vocal or direct enough about the issues that face marginalized people, or been adequately representative of who we are and who we serve. That stops now. Systemic and institutionalized racism has plagued our country since its very beginning, and Black people have faced extraordinary bigotry, harassment, and trauma every single day since. Police brutality and the murders of unarmed Black people are examples of this rampant racism, and we have lost too many lives as a result: George Floyd, Nina Pop, David McAtee, Rekia Boyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Shantel Davis, Mya Hall, Alexia Christian, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Michael Brown — to name just a few. We unequivocally believe that Black Lives Matter and we must recognize that white supremacy exists within every facet of our country before we can move forward. We must take action to ensure that we participate in dismantling this racist system, starting now.
It is our duty and priority to ensure the wellbeing and safety of our team, today and everyday. We have been listening to you and to our country, and we have seen many in pain. We brought our teams together this week and heard from many Black voices in our company who are heartbroken. Heartbroken because of the pain they feel facing these injustices day after day, because of the conversations they will have to have with their children about being careful just because they are Black, because the only thing they can do is to go out and protest knowing the risks involved in staying out. In these times and beyond, we will do everything we can to protect and empower the people who make Milk Bar possible. We will offer additional paid time off for our employees’ mental health, we will continue to host open forums for our team to express their concerns and engage in open dialogue about what is going on and what we can do, and we will close stores as necessary to preserve our employees’ physical safety — property can be replaced, but lives cannot.
Milk Bar is also fundamentally reassessing our internal structures, creating a culture grounded in anti-racism that allows for those members of the community to be heard and made safe in historically white spaces. We are beginning this work by creating avenues within our organization where affinity groups can find community and support from Milk Bar, both in and out of crisis. Furthermore, we are committed to making sure our investors, partners,suppliers — anyone who joins the extended Milk Bar family — also share in our values.
We see a lot of sentiment out there, which isn’t as impactful as action. We’re guilty of that, too. We have benefitted from a system and structure that has allowed us to succeed and we must give back to the communities who have not had the same opportunities because of the color of their skin. In pledging to do better, we have asked our entire company to help in choosing the organizations where Milk Bar will donate, and we will keep you posted on our donations and long-term partnerships. We will also launch the option for Milk Bar’s online customers to contribute to Black Lives Matter and The Innocence Project. We hope you’ll consider donating to them, too. We will continue to learn from our internal and external community and will share more linking to these organizations, as well as other ways you can get involved beyond donations.
We also recognize that we have a responsibility to the neighborhoods in which we operate and the communities in which we live. The current presidential administration does not align with our company values or beliefs. With elections at local, state, and national levels already at hand, we urge our following and our staff to VOTE at every opportunity to make sure that the people making decisions for our country will act on the right side of history. We will accommodate our staff to be able to vote on a workday by any means necessary. If you need support or information on your local elections, visit Rock the Vote.
We pledge to do better, and this is not the last you will hear from us on the subject. In the meantime, stay safe, stay strong, let us know how you are feeling, and don’t forget to find joy where you can.
Team Milk Bar