TCCP’s Anti-Racism Journey

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.

DEI Manager: 
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.

Hiring:
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.

Products:
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.

Community Building:
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.

Community 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.

Education:
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
our organization.

July 21, 2020

In the aftermath of the brutal murder of George Floyd and the protests that followed, the focus has been on how the community rebuilds and how we address the long-standing systemic mistreatment of and racism against the Black community. 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.

At Twin Cities Co-op Partners, we are on a journey to become a more proactively anti-racist organization. Like many in the community, we are evaluating our actions and practices, and asking how we can continue to be better allies of our BIPOC community and challengers of the cultural and legal systems designed to perpetuate institutionalized racism. It’s clear there is much for us to learn and understand and we have more questions than answers. But we are starting from a place of listening and working together with our employees, owners, and community on this journey.

Our statement is the result of very deliberate thought and discussions by our board of directors and leadership team over the past year – and the conversations have become more frequent in the past two months. But at the end of the day it is just a statement, and we realize that we will be judged by our actions – not just our words.

Actions to date include:

  • Continued partnership with YWCA to conduct mandatory training for all employees on microaggression and bias.
  • Banning customers who have made racist remarks to our staff and other customers from shopping at our stores.
  • Building a better defined and structured Diversity, Equity, Inclusion strategy with our board of directors to include steps for collaborating with organizations that serve diverse and/or underserved community members.
  • We continue to invest (food and donations) in hunger relief efforts through our partners: Twin Cities Food Justice, Loaves & Fishes, First Nation Kitchen, Sister’s Camelot, Groveland Food Shelf, Joyce Food Shelf, Open Arms MN, The Sheridan Story, Second Harvest Heartland, and Minnesota Central Kitchen. Minnesota ranks near the bottom of states on many racial equity measures – household income for black families is less than half of that of white families, poverty rates for black households are quadruple, and as a result food insecurity, especially since COVID-19, has been a serious issue for our Black community.

Upcoming:

  • Collaborate with staff and management on approaches to actively fight explicit and implicit racism in our stores. We will have a facilitated conversation to kick this off.
  • Hire a full-time Diversity, Equity, Inclusion coordinator to execute our strategy within our organization on hiring, training, employee relations, outreach and product sourcing.
  • Establish recruiting practices and hiring goals so that our staff and board of directors better represents our beautiful, diverse community.
  • Support and encourage all employees’ efforts to speak up and identify racist behaviors in a safe and respectful manner.
  • Developing policies around purchasing that support BIPOC farmers and producers.

Through the on-going dialogue, we will continue to find more ways, with the help of our employees and community, to educate and train ourselves to help combat racism.

Our mission is to Build Community by Developing a Strong Local Food System. We have focused a lot on the what and how of that statement, but realize we have an opportunity to focus more on the for whom. How do we do build a community that is truly inclusive of all people and a strong local food system that supports all people? Our Values as an organization are Equitability, Sustainability, Cooperation, Community, and Accessibility. While these are ingrained in our thinking, we admittedly have taken for granted that we are fulfilling these consistently in our businesses. We have signs that say, “Everyone Welcome Every Day,” yet we have heard that not everyone feels as welcome as they should. We have work to do to ensure we are deliberate and intentional in living these values – especially in regard to racial equity – so the impact of the values is felt by all community members.

This is a critical time in our community and country. There is an opportunity to take the shock and pain we all felt at the senseless loss of another Black man at the hands of police and channel it toward meaningful change. We recognize the important role that our co-op plays in building a more just and equitable society. We take that responsibility seriously and know that our actions are important in these efforts. We stand in front of the ownership and the community acknowledging there are still many difficult conversations to be had and work to be done.  We will continue to share our work and report on our measurable results along the way. Thank you to our employees, owners, and community for supporting the co-op for over four decades, and thanks for your continued support moving forward as work toward racial equity.

-TCCP Board of Directors, CEO and Leadership team