Summer 2022 Update
In our on-going work to be a more proactively anti-racist organization, we are sharing a progress report on where we are focusing our attention, making progress, and noting the areas where further work needs to be done. First, it is important to reflect on our community and nation over the past three years. While diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) conversations are more present and out in the open over the past two years than in the past, since our last update, there have been many more murders of innocent Blacks by police here and around the nation – just as we witnessed two years ago with George Floyd. The systems that allow for the mistreatment of and racism against the Black community continue. Looking at the inequalities in our education, housing, employment, and many other systems that many take for granted, there is a harsh reality of racism that exits toward our BIPOC population. And sadly, even with positive intentions and desires from many in the community, we seem to be in a perpetual one step forward, one step back.
Reflecting on the work of our organization as we enter the third year of our anti-racism journey, there are areas we’ve seen success and made progress. We have increased our resources and focus on DEI with: 1) the hiring of Michael Hodges, our DEI manager, 2) the creation of an employee DEI committee, and 3) dedicated time at our quarterly manager meetings to focus on DEI issues. In the community, we have strengthened our relationships with the Du Nord Community Foundation and have focused our Change Matters giving on organizations serving the BIPOC community. Our purchasing teams at have expanded relationships with small farmers or aspiring vendors from traditionally underserved communities. Our marketing efforts have been more inclusive, and we have focused on broader representation within our events and storytelling. And we have made strides in improving our hiring practices to be more inclusive through changes in our job descriptions and partnerships with Twin Cities Urban League and Minneapolis CPED – resulting in an increase in hiring of BIPOC candidates.
While there have been some wins, we will be the first to admit that we have not made the progress we need to. We learned that we need to reevaluate and redefine how we approach our initial initiatives. For instance, we talked early on about being a continuous learning organization. But, in honesty, we have not sustained our initial efforts around training; we were successful prior to Covid in providing all employee DEI training, but our training during Covid has been harder to execute for new and experienced employees – and we need a better system for ongoing learning opportunities. We are working on a comprehensive timeline for training and internal development. This will include formal training as well as informal conversations to better learn and understand each other. Next, we’re digging deeper into our business partnerships. We understand there is work that needs to be done to fulfill on the promise of “Everyone Welcome Every Day.” We are working with people from different communities to understand what they experience when they visit the co-op – and believe we need to go further to break down barriers. We’re digging deeper into how we collectively create an environment that is equitable, inclusive, and diverse for those we seek. While our efforts have been focused on attracting new BIPOC employees to join the organization, we recognize that we need to place as much focus on what new employees experience when they join and make sure they want to stay. And notably, we recognize that BIPOC employees are significantly underrepresented within our management ranks and on our board of directors.
This is hard work. But we are committed to doing the work and having the difficult conversations. And we want to invite our owner community into the dialogue. Whether it is through sharing feedback, attending events, or running for the board of directors, we want to hear from you. We are always striving to bring new perspectives into our conversations. We would love to have new people with new perspectives join our board. One of the best ways we can accelerate our work as an organization is by broadening our participation. We welcome you to visit: https://wedge.coop/board-of-directors/ to learn more about board service or reach out to email@example.com to receive more information. We are a community organization, and we truly want to represent the whole community we serve – and we can only do it through your engagement.
Spring 2021 Update
Twin Cities Co-op Partners supports the Black Lives Matter movement and believes that work needs to be done to dismantle a racist system that has led to repeated violence against the Black community
Last July, TCCP released its anti-racism journey statement outlining goals and initial plans to become a proactively anti-racist organization. In the statement, we acknowledged a process that starts with listening and learning, and ultimately, one that will result in actions and not just words. We are committed to continuing this important work. To remain transparent, we will share updates during this humbling journey. Below summarizes our first eight months.
In recognition of the importance of the work we need to do around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), we hired our first-ever DEI Manager: Michael Hodges. Michael brings great experience and perspective to the organization through his work at Carleton College and Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) in helping create more inclusive and equitable communities. Michael is working closely with management and the rest of the organization to help assist our efforts in this important work. Learn more about Michael on page 4.
We acknowledge there is a lot of work to do to better reflect the diversity across Minneapolis and increase the racial equity in our organization. Since the beginning of the fall, our hiring of people who identify as “non-white” has increased by 65 percent. And specifically, we have hired more Black employees—starting the year about 5 percent of our employee base was Black, and this year 16 percent of new hires are Black. We’re in the process of building a more consistent and transparent hiring process. Currently, we are restructuring our job postings to be more inclusive and consistent across each location. Application review, interview practices, hiring, onboarding, retention, reporting, training, and development are a part of our restructuring efforts. Human resources, along with our DEI manager and upper management, are all committed to constructing a better, more consistent, and inclusive hiring process that aids in recruiting and retaining a more diverse workforce.
Along with employing a more diverse staff, we have increased our partnerships with local vendors that better reflect our diverse community. Since the beginning of the fiscal year (July 2020) we have added 16 new products from companies that are BIPOC-owned. And specifically, within that, there are nine businesses that are Black owned. We are proud to be partnering with great, locally Black-owned businesses. Additionally, we are working to better showcase BIPOC-owned businesses in our stores to grow brand awareness and increase sales of products.
Staff Survey and Training:
Late last year, we completed our first-ever staff survey focused on DEI issues. It gave us a baseline to understand how staff perceive inclusion at TCCP today. We drew some valuable lessons about where we are doing well, where we have opportunities and what areas we need to focus on for improvement. These important lessons will be integrated into our staff training this spring. The training will focus on intervention, de-escalation, and engaging in challenging conversations and situations from a cultural-competency lens.
An important part of community building is creating connections and listening. That journey starts with meeting new people to build bridges in the community and to frankly listen to what needs are out there. Over the past few months, we have met with community organizations like Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church and Northpoint Health to better understand the gaps and specific areas lacking support so that TCCP can develop programs or services to meet the needs of the Black community. To date, there is a common understanding of injustices that exist in the local food system, which is an area on which we can focus on for future investment.
In our ongoing financial support related to community giving, our 2021 Change Matters register round-up program is focused on supporting organizations that serve BIPOC communities. By coordinating these donations from customers and re-investing in the community, we are working to address gaps in food access, job training, and community development in the underserved communities and empowering Black, Indigenous and communities of color. All proceeds from our Black Lives Matters signs go to the Du Nord Foundation, which has committed to rebuilding Black businesses impacted by last summer’s civil unrest. We are also exploring opportunities to increase our support of their Community Market, which offers online ordering and curbside pickup of free, culturally relevant groceries for people in need.
Finally, we are furthering education in the community around race issues through a virtual event series called “Co-op Community Conversations: Exploring the intersection of racial, social and food justice” in partnership with Seward Co-op, Mississippi Market, and Eastside Co-op. This four-part series started in February with the “Jim Crow of the North” documentary and discussion around the history of racial covenants for housing in Minneapolis.
While we are optimistic about our efforts and progress over the past eight months, we remain humble and focused. We will continue to work to better reflect the ideas, spirit, and stories of our beautiful, diverse community more fully into