The State of The BE’s Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives
We have also been asked to open our eyes to the lack of diversity among our staff and clientele. In the past we assumed that if we simply continued driving our mission and vision of inclusivity, that it would magically result in a colorful community representing all of St. Pete. After all, we never considered ourselves to be just a neighborhood studio. We envisioned The BE as a destination for EVERYONE looking for a peaceful, supportive place.
Well, we were wrong. That dream of diversity by and large has not happened. And now we realize that it’s going to require more effort, new ideas, and a greater commitment of resources to create something that’s more than lip service. To stay relevant and meet the demands of our very own mission statement, we have to prioritize our diversity and inclusion work, and not let it flounder when things get tough.
We are prepared to show up for this work.
In the months and years ahead you will see external manifestations of our D&I efforts in the forms of:
- Amplification of marginalized voices in the yoga and mindful movement communities, especially those of local thinkers, teachers, coaches, and activists.
- A formalized plan for our philanthropic efforts, allowing for more transparency, impact, and with a focus on improving health equity in St. Pete and beyond.
- More racial diversity in our staff, as we prioritize it in our recruitment, programming, and retention efforts.
- Retail product in our stores by BIPOC-owned vendors, with an emphasis on local small businesses.
- More racial diversity in our clientele, if our efforts are successful, in creating a space that better understands and serves the needs of BIPOC community members.
Internally, The BE is:
- Creating The BE Mentorship Program, ensuring better communication, support, and a heterogeneity of voices to lend guidance and feedback to our new teachers and trainers.
- Reaching further and deeper into our local community to better learn how we can serve those who have felt excluded from the benefits of yoga and mindful fitness in general, or The BE specifically.
- Re-evaluating, discarding, and making new systems around hiring, evaluations, opportunities, raises, and communications. It has become clear that our lack of transparency and failure to implement consistent systems created an atmosphere of confusion, and sometimes mistrust and frustration. We are still learning how to run a business!
- Creating an internal plan, spelling out our diversity and inclusion goals, and how this initiative will be implemented in all of our systems: staff hiring, training, class and events programming, employee evaluations, opportunities, philanthropic efforts, and community outreach.
- Creating a zero-tolerance internal policy, defining bigotry of all kinds, including common microaggressions and problematic language.
Personally, we are also committed to continuing this soul work. Yoga philosophy teaches us to identify unconscious patterns of thought and habit, and then discern if those patterns are helpful, hurtful, or benign. And when we conclude that a pattern is not helpful, we set about replacing it with a new habit that IS helpful or benign.
We believe strongly in The BE, in what we stand for, and in what we DO. We’ve heard hundreds of stories of healing over the years. For some people, The BE is the only place they feel safe, or where they can be free of anxiety and noise. We passionately want to be able to continue that work, and do it better. We are prepared to rise. We hope you’ll all be coming along with us.