The worldwide Black Lives Matter protests over the last two weeks have been confronting, enlightening, inspiring, devastating and galvanising. As individuals, and as a business, these events have forced us to reflect on the injustices and racism that exist here in Australia, and to examine our own role in both the problems and the solutions.
This process has been necessarily uncomfortable. We are a values-led business, and have always strived to use Market Lane for good. And yet we profit from living and conducting our business on the traditional lands of the Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung (Wurundjeri) peoples of the Kulin Nation. As a company that operates on these lands, we have been examining our privilege and looking for ways to confront the systemic racism that exists in our country; identifying actions we can take to contribute to real, meaningful and lasting change.
We believe that change is possible, and we’re determined to be part of it. We don’t have all the answers, but we are starting by listening, and by unlearning and learning. By asking questions, and having conversations. By challenging each other and holding ourselves accountable to the fact that our actions and statements are painfully overdue. And by exploring ways to use our platform and our voices to promote and demand meaningful change. Our silence has been born of our privilege, and we apologise for not doing more, much sooner.
Here are the first steps we are taking to address this. We are in the early stages of this process, so if we have missed something, or if you have suggestions or feedback, we welcome you to get in touch. We aim to listen and learn, and to be an actively anti-racist business. Here are some ways that we are putting our words into action:
We commit to listening, and to learning, to having conversations, and educating ourselves and our team. We acknowledge that this is an ongoing process that will take our regular investment and conscious consideration. We plan to provide cultural learning opportunities for our team that focus on increasing our understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, history, traditions, belief systems and ongoing achievements. Further to this, the leadership team will be completing a Cultural Competence Program to ensure that our head office, roastery and cafes are safe, respectful and inclusive spaces for every single person on our team, as well as for our customers.
We are committed to ensuring that we are not only not racist, but that we’re actively promoting and pushing for an anti-racist framework within our company. To this end, we are in the process of reviewing our practices, and rewriting some of our policies. Some examples of procedures already under review are recruitment, induction, training, and feedback channels for – and management response to – staff complaints or concerns.
3. Reconciliation Action Plan
With the purpose of strengthening relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, we will create a Reconciliation Action Plan for Market Lane. We will engage with experts to help us develop a structured framework through which we can advance reconciliation. This ‘roadmap’ will help us identify where we can grow and change, and we will use it to develop a long-term, measurable plan.
We have researched and discovered several organisations we’d like to support. After consulting with our staff, we have decided to donate $5,000 to Children’s Ground. In addition to this, we are looking to partner with organisations that focus on the advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We are starting conversations and taking the time to listen and learn so we can understand what kind of support would be the most beneficial and where we see an alignment with our areas of expertise and their needs. Our goal is to have this up and running in the next 12 months.
Perhaps the most important thing we have learned from all our recent reading, learning and discussion is that anti-racism is not about a quick fix or a one-off donation; it’s not something that can be achieved with one social media statement or a single journal post like this one. Examining and deconstructing the deeply-embedded racism in our country with the goal of achieving a just society is an ongoing, lifelong process – for us as individuals and for Market Lane Coffee as a company. We don’t take this responsibility lightly, and we plan to honour the above goals and commitments, in full and into the future.
Thank you for your time, and wishing you our best,
Fleur Studd, Jason Scheltus and Jenni Bryant (Owners of Market Lane Coffee)