[Issue 095] #WayfairWalkout and the importance of employee activism
Honestly, I started writing today's newsletter last night and I had to stop and take a break because I couldn't stop crying.
As I continue typing now, though, I'm just enraged. Livid. Furious. And fucking pissed off about everything that's happening at our borders and the heartless ways some people are choosing to respond.
I don't care what your political leaning is. It shouldn't matter when you read about children separated from their families and kept for weeks at a time without adequate water, food and sanitation.
This is a humanitarian issue. And as an empath, it's hard for me to understand how anyone who reads about or witnesses such a thing wouldn't be upset too.
That brings us to the topic of today's newsletter: the #WayfairWalkout. If you missed how it all started, this tweet from Tuesday is a great summary:
The walkout was yesterday in Boston, and the turnout was impressive.
I made the mistake of going through the #WayfairWalkout tweets and came across so many hateful responses to the walkout, including multiple versions of "Fire them all." But the one the question that seems to puzzle many seemingly well-intentioned people is, "Don't we want the kids to have beds?"
In response to why they decided to protest, employees said (emphasis mine to answer that question):
We’re walking out in protest of our leadership’s decision to sell to reprehensible concentration camps. We had hoped that raising awareness would be enough for them to do the right thing, but it wasn’t. We want to make it clear that this is not a political issue — it’s a humanitarian issue, and we will not back down. Supporting racist policy for the right reasons [to give people in the detention camps a bed] still means you’re supporting racist policy. Our attention and energy should be devoted to shutting camps down, not towards making them better.
If the company was truly concerned about providing beds to these children, why wouldn't they donate them instead of accepting an order for profit?
I wish I could say that's where they fucked up. But a recording of the company's co-founder speaking to employees was posted by The Atlantic yesterday:
Yesterday, the company’s co-founder and chief technology officer, Steve Conine, convened a staff meeting that one employee described as both “packed” and “cringeworthy.” During the meeting, of which The Atlantic obtained audio recordings, Conine declared that he was “very much against these detention centers,” but also emphasized the company’s “duty not to be a discriminatory business.”
Wait... it gets worse... (emphasis is mine and correlated to my rage)
“The business basically exists to be a profit-generating entity, tries to create success for all our employees, tries to create wealth in all our employees so that we can all have an impact on the world,” Conine said during the meeting. “I mean, we’re not a political entity. We’re not trying to take a political side in this.”
I also wish I could say it ends there. But they just had to add a cherry on top...
Ya'll.... I just can't. I couldn't make this shit up if I tried.
Honestly, I could end the newsletter here, I'm so upset. But let me rage type what I would say to this dude.
First of all, this is not a political issue. It's a humanitarian one. Your employees already broke it down for you, but you've DECIDED that it's political.
Second of all, not only have you shown your employees that their opinions are simply a "nice to have," but by donating to the RED CROSS instead of RAICES (per their request) - or any other organization that actually has something to do with this crisis - you've explicitly stated that their advice is worthless.
Lastly, you've made it clear that making a profit is a priority over your employees making an impact on the world (hello, capitalism), and I hope that your attrition, supply chain, customer base and stock price suffer as a result.
Now, I need to go get dressed and drive into the office for an all-day meeting. In a future issue I will get to why this walkout and the increased employee activism we are seeing these days is so important.
In the meantime, keep following and sharing the protest through the hashtag #WayfairWalkout on social media. I also encourage you to scroll through this long list of other companies that are profiting from detention camps. If you work at or suppport one of these business, I encourage you to send an email TODAY asking them to stop.
Not sure if this makes you as happy as this makes me, but Serena Williams will be the next athlete on the Wheaties box!
I mean, the woman sure as hell deserves it: Williams has earned 23 grand slam singles titles and 14 grand slam doubles titles. She's also won four Olympic gold medals in both singles and doubles play, representing the U.S. in Sydney, Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro.
Read more ⟶
Those She/Her/Hers At The End Of Email Messages Are More Than A Passing Trend.This article is written about creating the space for gender inclusion in your company, and uses the financial services giant TIAA as an example. They have recently rolled out a new guideline for it’s consultants that interact with clients, they must “never assume someone’s gender identity” and “be aware that a person’s pronouns can change over time” or based on context, consultants also must create the space for gender inclusion by asking for their clients preferred preferences. // QUARTZ
Designing Offices Where Privacy Doesn’t Compromise Safety. This article is written by two interior designers who are working on designing office spaces that focus on how to improve and influence employee behavior, and in the time of #MeToo, a big point of their work is to try and help prevent sexual harassment in the workplace through design. Examples of their designs include offices with at least one main glass wall so that you can see in, but still maintain quiet, or having chairs face different directions to provide more privacy. // HBR
Vaginas Deserve Giant Ads, Too. The New York City subway is plastered with ads for men’s health products, prominently featuring erictile disfunction medicines using cactuses that are meant to evoke phallic imagery, however, when Dame Products, a sex toy company with a focus on catering to women, tried to submit an ad to the NY ad council, they were denied. Dame Products responded by suing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority over the double standard. Jackie Rotman is the founder and CEO of a sexual wellness advocacy nonprofit, and she continues the article by describing other double standards in the advertising of sexual health products. // NY TIMES
Being Transgender at Goldman Sachs. This article is written about Maeve DuVally, who is a transgender women working as a spokeswoman for Goldman Sachs, and details her experiences transitioning in the workplace. She recounts hearing co-workers mutter under their breath, as well as having to explicitly tell her co workers of her gender identity. The article also discusses the companies record on supporting it’s LGBT employees. // NY TIMES
Converse Is Quietly Reinventing One of America’s Most Iconic Sneakers. Chuck Taylor is making a line of Converse shoes that are made from discarded jeans named Renew Denim. Every pair will be unique due to the new way of sourcing the fabric. The brand has made other strides in sustainable fashion, in the past few years they have unveiled shoes made from recycled PET plastic. // FAST COMPANY
This week's headlines were curated by ABL's intern, Lora.
"Knowing what’s going on at the southern border and knowing that Wayfair has the potential to profit from it is pretty scary. I want to work at a company where the standards we hold ourselves to are the same standards that we hold our customers and our partners to."
- Elizabeth Good, a Wayfair manager and one of the walkout’s organizers