By Dan Kurzrock, CEO
We started ReGrained with a mission to create solutions, but this past week we shifted our focus. As CEO and co-founder, I am slowing down, taking a step back, listening, and critically examining our own role in the problem. I use the present participle deliberately, as this is an active and ongoing process.
In no uncertain terms, we believe that systemic racism and the ongoing oppression of the Black community must end. Black Lives Matter. More broadly, we stand with all who experience injustice and commit to the process of being antiracist and a better ally.
George Floyd’s murder is just one of the most recent in the horrifically long list of Black lives brutally and unjustly taken. This is not a new issue, nor the origin of our concern. Yet, we have never before used our platform to specifically participate in the much-needed conversation on race, equity, and systemic injustice—and how we can actively break down the barriers that preclude the pursuit of dignified lives.
ReGrained is a Certified B Corp and registered Public Benefit Corporation. Our values are literally embedded in our corporate governance structure. We have pledged to put people and the planet over profit. The environment and society are inexorably linked, but traditionally, environmental movements have ignored racial justice. It is becoming increasingly clear to us, and to other environmentally-conscious organizations around the world, that to protect the planet, we must also protect people. And to improve the lives of people, we must improve the health of the planet.
As an example, consider ReGrained’s mission to revolutionize our industrial food system that globally wastes 1/3 of all food produced, while hundreds of millions suffer from food insecurity, disproportionately POC. The same is true of the consequences wreaked by climate change more broadly.
As CEO, I feel it is our responsibility to use our platform and privilege to urgently progress justice in order to also achieve equity, diversity and inclusion. As one small step, we are updating our mission statement to own this. Currently, it reads “To Better Align The Food We Eat With The Planet We Love.” Our updated mission adds just two words, but represents a much more inclusive ideal: “To Better Align the Food We Eat With The Planet and People We Love.”
Words are important to set intention, but how will we act to fulfill the updated scope of our mission? Per our ongoing commitment to learn how to be a better ally, we welcome your feedback and ideas on how we can improve this list.
- 1. Advocacy: We are committed to adding our voice to endorse progressive policies and campaigns that confront racism and systemic injustice. There are many pathways of advocacy we can take, and the “how” will be an ongoing conversation with our team and community. Some advocacy will be as simple as signing this sustainable business industry letter or asking our mayor to enact 8 Can’t Wait use-of-force policies. Other efforts will be more involved such partnering with community activists and minority run organizations to support the important work of uplifting marginalized communities and dismantling the status-quo systems of oppression. We will continue to proactively seek and respond to opportunities to advocate for justice.
- 2. Activism: We stand with protesting against racism. As a new policy, we support individual team members who wish to participate and exercise their democratic rights, without deducting take time off.
- 3. Amplification: We can, we have, and we will use our platform to amplify voices and views to better educate ourselves and our community. Along with resource links at the end of this post we pledge to promote voices of color across our own channels (such as Instagram) and others that we participate in (such as speaker panels).
- 4. Donations: As 1% For The Planet members, we already donate 1% of all sales to environmental non-profits. Our primary current partner is FoodShift, whose approach to fighting food waste focuses on building resilient communities and just food systems. As a small business, our financial resources may be limited, but we will proactively seek other organizations to support at the intersection of the People and Planet. What we lack in cash, we can offer in-kind product donations. For example, in the past we’ve supplied food to organizations like Brown Girl Surf and others, but would like to extend our reach to support protestors and activists on the frontlines. We are reaching out to local organizers and responding to all inbound inquiries.
- 5. Team: We are a small team and do not (yet) have the opportunity to hire frequently. Still, we already have some structural measures in place to hire for diversity. We highlight diversity in our job descriptions and actively seek diverse referrals, but can do better. Going forward, we will post on diverse job boards, advertise in diverse channels, and seek opportunities to create targeted internships. Diversity will also be a key consideration as we expand our Board of Directors in the future.
- 6. Supply Chain: As a food manufacturer, one of the most impactful ways we can live our values is through our supply chain decisions. As a small business, cost will always be a factor, but we already seek suppliers that share our values (for example, other B Corps, third-party verified supply chains, etc). We seek to extend these efforts to include considerations for who owns and operates those businesses. Frankly, we have work to do on the “how” for this one. If you know of any resources, please suggest and share!
The world is a complex ecosystem, but one thing is simple: we must all hold ourselves accountable to do more good and be better humans, to all humans. This is true as individuals, and also as a business community. As members of the food justice community specifically, we consequently pledge to educate ourselves on both the root causes and modern realities of systemic racism. We promise to find ways in our own lives to become more anti-racist. We commit to taking action that elevates Black voices, and to support movements for Black justice. Whether it's through social advocacy, monetary or product support, or engagement in genuine and constructive dialogues with the people around us, ReGrained is committed to the campaign against violence and systemic racism.
This post was written as an acknowledgment, not the work. We will keep you updated, and would truly love to hear your thoughts. I can always be reached directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Open, honest, and constructive dialogue is key!
Before we get to it, here are is a short list of resources that we have really appreciated:
- -Ally Resource Guide
- -Anti-Rascism Resource Guide
- -CivilEats: Want to See Food and Land Justice for Black Americans? Support These Groups.
- -FoodTank: 19 Individuals and Organizations Building Stronger Black Communities and Food Systems
- -List of Black Owned Food Businesses
ReGrained CEO and Co-Founder