The artwork for this post was purchased from Mckenna Buckley, a 17 year-old Black artist from Los Angeles.
View and purchase her work here.
To say that George Floyd’s death has shaken us to our core is an understatement. In the weeks since, we’ve had time to take an honest, hard look at our company culture, and it’s hard to believe how narrow-mindedly we operated before, even as a company that strives for diversity.
So what are we doing about it? First, we’re taking accountability. We accept the fact that we are in a position of privilege to make decisions that affect other peoples’ lives and livelihood, both on and off set. In this position, we not only stand with the Black Lives Matter movement, but as a company we are making purposeful changes to our own operations to support the Black community in every way we can. Below, we’re sharing some of the work we’ve been doing over the past month, and what we plan to do in the short and long term — the overarching goal of which is to improve the opportunities, access, safety and lives of Black people in equal and equitable ways.
We’ve spent the past several weeks listening — the type of listening that makes us feel raw and vulnerable. The type of listening where we don’t step in to defend our “intentions.” The type of listening where, instead, we acknowledge the effect that our past decisions have had on our Black crew, talent, and clients. This is so important, and we’re doing a lot of it. And we don’t plan to stop; this kind of listening is now a lifelong commitment for us.
Tracking diversity on set.
We’ve always been conscious of diversifying our on-set crew, but as we’ve learned, simply being “conscious” of something isn’t enough. Now, we’re looking at our systems, and realizing we can’t just have good intentions, we need to have specific benchmarks. We’d never asked ourselves, “How many Black people do we have on set?” So now, we’re working toward 15% of our crew and vendors on set being Black, and intend to meet or beat that goal for each and every production going forward. We chose 15% because it reflects the percentage of the U.S. population that is Black, but this will be a moving target as the Black population grows over time. In the broader scope of diversity, we also intend to hit a total of 30% of BIPOC on set.
Tracking diversity in our spending.
Working in production naturally incurs a lot of expenses. And we’ve begun making an effort to shift our spending to support Black and other minority-owned businesses and makers. While Grey House doesn’t personally do all of the spending for each of our productions, we’re encouraging our partners to buy from Black makers whenever possible. We recognize that seeking out new vendors takes time and effort, and researching BIPOC vendors is something we’re happy to help with. A few of our favorite sources are BIPOC Photo Assistants, The Hill Creatives, and Black In Film database.
Defunding bad-news brands.
Our stand is simple: support companies that support the cause, rather than those that oppose it, or flip-flop in the name of public relations. We will pass on projects with any client opposes the BLM movement, or otherwise demonstrates anti-Blackness through their actions, statements, donations or affiliations. We promise to identify and redirect our budgets away from problematic brands in every case we can, whether it’s coffee runs, hotels, or clients themselves. We will hire, patronize and amplify alternative brands that are part of, or demonstrably value, the Black community. We feel obligated to share with all of our clients our reasons for change, and encourage them to vote with their own dollars.
Funding good-news organizations.
In the past month, we’ve researched and set up recurring donations to the following organizations: Black & Brown Founders, Black Girls Code, UndocuBlack. If you’re in a position to give, we encourage you to do the same — not just once, but on an ongoing basis. We’re in this for the long haul. Additionally, we’re continuing our partnership with Free Spirit Media, a nonprofit training org we’ve used since 2016 to source recently established BIPOC crew.
Pledging to do better.
Many organizations around the country are starting to put into words what the rest of us are just beginning to acknowledge: making real, lasting change is long, hard work. After reading dozens of pledges, we signed three that we aligned with the most in terms of pushing us to do the most good: Change The Lens, The Allyship & Action Pledge, and The Anti-Racist Small Business Pledge.
We encourage you, our colleagues and community, to hold us accountable. More than an “open door policy,” it is an invitation to not only hold us accountable, but to freely share what we can do better, and any blind spots you see. Call us. Email our founder directly. We fully acknowledge that we do not have it figured out, but our commitment is to work to be better each day. Will you join us?
Appendix of Links
If you have more to add, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- refinecltv: Directory of Minority Owned Businesses
- Black Women Owned Businesses
- The Official Black Lives Matter website
- Change the Lens
- Black Women Photographers
- The Photographer’s Guide to Inclusive Photography
- Resources on Anti-Racism Work – Authority Collective
- #HireBlackPhotographers – Diversify Photo
- Authority Collective
- Photo Bill of Rights
- About Us — Women Who Create
- Do. Do more. Do better.
- Anti-racism resources for white people
- Bid Black: Home
- COLOR POSITIVE
- Donate to the Equal Justice Initiative
- Color Of Change | We help you do something real about injustice.
- Creative Women of Color Database
- One School for Black Creatives