Last June we released a statement called Fellow’s Commitment To Change. We laid out our role in perpetuating racism and white supremacy and acknowledged that we need a formalized approach to supporting BIPOC perspectives and diversity at Fellow. 

In our statement we promised transparency and accountability as we work towards the ultimate goal of supporting lasting change in the coffee industry. We have focused our efforts on inclusion and in increasing access to the coffee industry for all people. We also recognize that we have a responsibility as a growing company with a sizable footprint to address broader systemic racism in the communities in which we operate. We celebrate small strides in the fight for accountability when faced with racial injustice but refuse to become complacent. Fellow holds a steadfast dedication to playing even a small role in upholding standards of belonging, equity, inclusion, and diversity.

In this update we will share our progress on what we have accomplished in the last nine months. We will also speak to areas where we will increase focus and improve as we move forward. Fellow will continue to pursue progress over perfection, as this work has no end—it’s a way of being.

Guidance and Accountability

Fellow has formed our first DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging) committee which is tasked with oversight of the company’s diversity efforts, including updating our company policies, improving our hiring and retention processes, hosting internal educational events, and supporting the wider coffee community. We’ve also created an external oversight committee composed of Nji Nnamani Brown, Director of Strategic Planning and Global Demand & Supply Management at Nike, and Phyllis Johnson, Founder & Chair of The Board at The Coffee Coalition for Racial Equity. We formally meet with our committee two times per year.

Education

We mentioned in our last statement how unaware we can be of our own personal bias and how unaware we can be to the millions of small and large actions we take that influence professional and personal lives. We continue to work on creating space for existing employees to explore their own biases to drive a culture that leads to success and a welcoming environment for any employee. 

Here’s what we’ve done over the past ten months to work to dismantle the biases inherent in ourselves and our operations:

We have conducted our first company-wide DEIB events and sessions, including:

  • A company-wide anti-bias training
  • Screenings of documentaries 13th, John Lewis Good Trouble, No Single Origin by HOME Storytellers
  • Team discussions surrounding Juneteenth and the Capitol Riot
  • Team bonding activity to learn to understand each other better

Future: We are aiming to create a yearly internal calendar to host these events in order to encourage a frequent cadence for social justice conversations.

Policy

We have several policy updates we are currently in the middle of implementing. Here is an overview of where we are with each project:

  • We are updating company principles at Fellow with a focus on inclusion and belonging.
  • We hired our first People Operations leader, focusing on candidates with experience building diverse and inclusive workplaces. She will be tasked with increasing diversity in our hiring process, creating inclusive programming, supporting diversity training efforts, and overseeing career development and review processes. The People Operations leader isn’t here to solve the challenges faced with having a lack of diversity, but rather, be a guiding light to help steer the direction and provide opportunities. The work remains on the company, the leadership, and throughout the entire system to help create the type of organization where diversity can thrive.
  • We are working on career ladder development and salary band revisions to ensure everyone is clear on how to progress and that everyone is fairly compensated. 

Hiring

To increase diversity in hiring we need to get more candidates in the funnel and ensure they make it through the funnel. Here is where we stand today:

  • We have increased proactive sourcing of candidates from historically underrepresented groups.
  • We have updated our interview process to reduce bias, although we will continue to improve this process, especially as we bring in our People Operations leader. We have moved from having no consistent process across functions, roles or even interviews, to one process for every potential hire.
  • Next, we will train all hiring managers to reduce bias. This was a goal of ours over the past months that, unfortunately, we have not been able to achieve, but plan to have training in place by June 2021.

Data

We conducted the first internal survey with both demographic data and questions on how people perceive the company. From a racial diversity perspective, we saw BIPOC employee representation increase by 40%. In fall 2020, 22% of Fellow employees self-identified as BIPOC (with a 90% reporting rate). In winter 2021, that number rose to 31% (with an 80% reporting rate). Gaps remain for all levels, although most evident amongst leadership. 

Here are a couple of the questions from the internal survey and highlighted answers:

How can we make Fellow more inclusive?

  • “Celebrate everyone's different experiences and backgrounds. Not sure if this will work but I think your questions/closed convo sessions from a month or so ago were really powerful. More riffs on that.”
  • “Hiring more women on support and more non-white folk in general!”
  • “Hire more inclusive people”
  • “I think we have room to improve with onboarding.”

What can the DEIB committee do better?

  • “Would like to see some indigenous events/stories be presented.”
  • “I'm curious about how we can apply the practices inwardly within the company. What impact has this had on the company like even hiring?”
  • “We have great conversations, but the missing piece is maybe the call to action”
  • “Scheduling some sort of volunteer activity (post COVID-19 world) would be awesome”

External

We made a commitment to donate $20,000 worth of products annually to individual baristas and $80,000 worth of products annually to businesses owned or co-owned by a person representing a marginalized or underrepresented group in the industry, including but not limited to: people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA+, and womxn with 50% of the donations reserved for the Black coffee community. Here is where we stand as of April 2021:

Barista Support

Getchusomegear Partnership

  • 62 Stagg EKGs ($10,230)

Glitter Cat Barista - $10,588

  • 49 Stagg EKGs ($7,300)
  • 64 Custom Glitter Cat Carter Everywhere Mugs ($2,048)
  • Shipping Expense ($1,280)

Total Barista Support YTD: $20,858 out of the $20,000 goal

Business Support

  • We have donated $59,785 of Fellow products so far to 34 businesses.
  • In February 2021, we kicked off a marketing campaign to reach more businesses in need and have received 100 applications. We will disperse the rest of the product donations in April and May to fulfill our $80,000 goal.

Total Business Support YTD: $59,785 out of the $80,000 goal

Marketing Changes

In the past, our marketing team’s first reaction was to use Fellow employees or their own network as models in our campaigns. As a mostly white company, this led to photos and videos with mostly white people. The lack of diversity was evident in our product launches, social media, and website images. In June we set a target for all brand partnerships, influencer collaborations, and models to meet or exceed 50% representation as those who identify as  BIPOC. While our marketing team has made significant internal changes to seek out diverse talent and partnerships, upon reflection, we’ve recalibrated our thinking and want to ensure we’re not just trying to ‘check a box’ by hitting 50% representation. We don’t want to meet a quota to just meet a quota. Our new goal is to work with a diverse set of content creators who better represent the make-up of the specialty coffee community.

The ComeTogether Cafe Fund

Additionally, our team helped organize, manage, and solicit donations for The ComeTogether project with Glitter Cat Barista, Mage, and GoFundBean. The ComeTogether Cafe Fund focuses on supporting small specialty coffee cafes and businesses with 100% of the fund reserved for those who self-identify as being a member of an underrepresented or marginalized group in the coffee industry including but not limited to: BIPOC, disabled, LGBTQIA+, womxn, and racial and ethnic minorities. 50% of the fund is reserved for Black-owned/co-owned businesses. Additionally, The ComeTogether Cafe Fund seeks cafes and roasters not only owned by these groups but who also hire diversely.

To date, The ComeTogether Cafe Fund has raised $19,000 for five small speciality coffee businesses with an additional $18,500 currently being disbursed for our second cohort of cafes.

Commitment To Accessibility

Fellow is committed to making our website's content accessible and user friendly to everyone. If you are having difficulty viewing or navigating the content on this website or notice any content, feature, or functionality that you believe is not fully accessible to people with disabilities, please email our Customer Experience team at hello@fellowproducts.com with "Disabled Access" in the subject line and provide a description of the specific feature you feel is not fully accessible or a suggestion for improvement. Fellow takes your feedback seriously and will consider it as we evaluate ways to accommodate all of our customers and our overall accessibility policies. Additionally, while we do not control such vendors, we strongly encourage vendors of third-party digital content to provide content that is accessible and user friendly.

Looking Forward

Moving forward, we’re focusing on continued progress over perfection. We still have a ton of room for improvement in the internal and external efforts outlined above. In addition, we are still searching and brainstorming new ways that Fellow can support the specialty coffee BIPOC community through collaboration and bringing more awareness in our networks. If you have any ideas on how we can partner or collaborate, please reach out to us at community@fellowproducts.com