Diversity & Inclusion ~ A Focused Journey for Spell
We are committed to ensuring the unique lived experiences and perspectives of our team, stakeholders and our global community are acknowledged and championed; it’s these lived experiences and perspectives that form the tapestry of our organisation, wider community and humanity as a whole.
From age, race, disability status to gender identity, we strive to build and nurture a business culture that is open, honest and inclusive. We aim to also foster a business culture that humbly values continuous learning.
We understand that a diverse and inclusive culture does not happen without effort and commitment. In 2020 we shared in a collective awakening and acknowledge our responsibility to play an active role in dismantling the racial, physical, mental, sexual and gender inequalities in our society.
In the weeks and months following the murder of Mr. George Floyd, as a great reckoning rippled out around the world, our founders and leadership team began a process of self-examination. This process is ongoing, as all anti-racism work has to be, and we are currently examining our own prejudices and conditioning and how that affects our organisation. Initially, what this examination exposed was a passive non-racism and underlying lack of awareness around our white conditioning that, we as a white owned brand, could not hide from any longer. We realised we could not demand change outwardly in our society until we examined and challenged ourselves inwardly. Today we continue to educate ourselves in Diversity and Inclusion across all functionalities of our business – this journey of continual improvement is being facilitated by experts in the field and guided by a RAP (Reconciliation Action Plan) framework.
A Note from Co-Founder Elizabeth Abegg:
Since Spell’s founding in 2009 we have operated our business from the Northern Rivers, New South Wales, on Bundjalung Land. As a white-owned business operating on unceded land, we acknowledge our extraordinary privilege and hold ourselves accountable in the wider Reconciliation movement – that is, to play our part in strengthening relationships between our First Nations Peoples and non-Indigenous Peoples to the benefit of all Australians.
We pledge to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander run organisations local to our community and around Australia. We are committed to using our platform to amplify and diversify ALL voices and sharing what we learn to raise others up. We’re committed to doing the work required to walk a path of anti-racism, to being vocal around issues of racism, (even though at times we will get it wrong), and to creating a culture where our BIPOC community can feel safe to pull us up when we get it wrong.
We are committed to engaging with more women and men of colour, (as well as men and women of varying age, gender and disability status) across our business and all its faculties. This will mean broadening the reach of our current hiring processes and creating more opportunities for individuals seeking experience within our industry.
We are committed to doing the work to better understand how to partake in dismantling the underlying racism and other prejudices or inequities within our society which undeniably infiltrate our organisation at some level. We are committed to engaging with experts, as well as working internally, in areas of diversity, inclusion and cultural awareness to help us identify areas in our policies that need work.
So what does this mean? Since June 2020 we have been working on lots of different areas in our business. Admittedly, initially our approach felt a bit ‘scatter gun’ as we honed our awareness, but over the year we have narrowed in on areas that are most important. We invite you to let us know how/where you believe we can be doing better and what you’d like to see into the future. (Email Us).
OUR ACTIONS AND COMMITMENTS:
1. Continuing robust learning with experts in Diversity and Inclusion + D&I Board
We are employing experts across a spectrum of fields within the D&I space, so that we may operate from a best practice framework. Engaging in facilitated learning across different areas and functionalities within our business. Secondly, a Diversity and Inclusion Board is in the process of being formed in line with our Diversity & Inclusion objectives and will meet in early 2022 after the aforementioned period of facilitated learning has been completed. Board members will be a combination of Spell team and external stakeholders who represent different diversity groups within Australia, (offering expertise in race, gender, disability status etc) and we will develop a suite of charter and policies based on collective input.
2. Implementing a Reconciliation Action Plan
Respect, educate and immerse ourselves in the culture of our First Nations Peoples and continually explore how we can honour the traditions and creativity from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, particularly paying respects to the People of the Bundjalung Nation. The Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program contributes to advancing the National Reconciliation movement by supporting organisations to develop respectful relationships and create meaningful opportunities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We have formed our RAP working group and are in the 1st stage of our RAP which is the ‘REFLECT’ stage. This stage can be up to 18 months, and we are using this time to reflect with the immediate action plan in points below:
- Engage with more First Nations run organisations, the first being our Carbon Offset partner.
- Our co-founder and other executive team members taking part in allyship programs, the first being our Co-Founder working with First Nations educator, Dixie Crawford.
- Engaging local First Nations educators to do cultural workshops with our wider team, including a cultural tour of Bundjalung Land to learn about significant sites and history of the land we conduct business on.
- Seeking Indigenous (paid) partnerships when it comes to content creation.
- Solidifying relationships with local Aboriginal Owned not-for-profit as part of our giving back program, specifically giving back and collaborating with local not for profit Bunjum.
- Ongoing collaborative work with Indigenous creatives - including a Spell apparel collaboration
- We are committed to seeking training and education in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history via our local community leaders for our team in the areas of cultural awareness and communication. We understand this education must come from multiple sources and multiple voices. These training workshops are already underway but as this is an ongoing journey, we will continue to engage with Aboriginal owned businesses to gather knowledge as part of our professional development strategy.
- Engaged with local elders (for shoots and events both locally and nationally) to always hold a Welcome To Country when possible.
3. Policy Updates
Update and continuously revise our policies to ensure they reflect progressive, inclusive views;
- Implement Code of Conduct that incorporates and recognises the Traditional Owners.
- Review and publish our Modern Slavery Policy/Statement. Although this is a voluntary statement, we have followed the structure outlined by the Australian Modern Slavery Statement Act legislation.
- Update Anti Discrimination/Anti Bullying and EEO Policy.
- Incorporate a recruitment framework outside of our usual recruiting processes that enables us to connect with talent within local communities that include Indigenous groups, those with disabilities and transgender, thus working to improve diversity of candidate pipeline for all roles, and foster a recruitment process that does not include systemic barriers to entry for people from underrepresented groups.
- Work toward completing Cultural Awareness Workplace Accreditation.
- Implemented an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to encourage our team to acknowledge the importance of checking in on their mental health, mood, resilience and emotional intelligence and support those who experience personal hardships.
A note from founders on use of the term ‘sisters’ in our communication.
As we continue to learn in areas of Diversity and Inclusion, language is very important. Over the years our Spell community have often used the words ‘sisters’ when speaking about each other. We adopted the term for one of our Facebook groups, ‘Spell Sisters’ and sometimes use the term in general communication. Our founders Isabella and Elizabeth are sisters and the kindred relationship between them has been a big part of the founding of this brand. However the term, when used by our brand is extended to all of our community regardless of gender identity.