WE CAN ALL DO BETTER
We show our solidarity with the recent #blacklivesmatter protests to end any form of racism in this new world. We must all look deep within ourselves and figure out what we can do better, then change!
Here is the story of how we changed for the better, and we hope it can inspire others to do the same...
Secret Brunch was started by a duo from BIPOC communities, as a small ‘invitation-only’ gathering of members, friends of friends and colleagues, primarily within the financial sector, with the sole objective of bringing people together. As the popularity and demand for attendance suddenly grew, so did the pressure to maintain that promise of exclusivity.
Without any sophisticated infrastructure in place, our small team would screen the list of attendees for members or search Facebook for mutual friends, especially when events were at capacity (in those days everything was operated via Facebook). If there were no mutual connections, or if the person wasn't an approved member, then we would simply refund their ticket and invite them to attend through a member, or apply for their own membership. The system was far from perfect, but it was the best we could offer, given our limited capacity.
However, our moment of realisation came in 2016, after a guest's ticket for a busy summer event was also refunded. She was furious and assumed that our actions were racially driven. Although that was never the intention, and her complaint was the first of it's nature, we understood her perspective. It suddenly hit home...
Throughout our lives we had been faced with adversity, discrimination and racism, personally and professionally, either because of our colour, ethnicity or religion. So we perfectly understood the hurtful thought of being discriminated against. But it never occurred to us that we could one day be the cause of that pain. So we began to question ourselves. What were we doing? We were trying to unite people together, yet caused separation? Were we going against all our beliefs and values, without even realising it?
We came to the conclusion that apart from causing upset to this guest, our 'exclusivity' model may have been outdated. Although we always took pride in uniting so many nationalities at our events, we realised that a referral process in a heavily caucasian industry could have lead to a homogenous output, and therefore lacked true diversity. So we spoke to the guest, took her feedback onboard, and promised an immediate change.
First we cancelled our next production and took the time out to invest into a membership application process with proper infrastructure and transparency. Anybody from any industry could apply, without the need for any mutual connections, focusing instead on common interests, such as fashion, art and literature, with enthuses on diversity.
But soon that didn’t sit right with us either, because any membership process still created barriers. No matter how we looked at it, the whole ‘members only’ approach seemed outdated. So we made the decision to completely scrap that too and open our doors to everybody. We turned Secret Brunch into the 'open to all’ platform that it is today, where everybody is welcome to attend.
We made sure that not only our message of unity continued to be a part of everything that we did, but enthuses on diversity was always at the forefront, from social media posts to castings etc. Rather than working on auto-pilot, we made a conscious effort to always think about our actions, and never again unintentionally cause upset.
The guest and her friends have since attended our event, and that complaint remains
the only such grievance raised to this date.
The changes we made may have deterred some exclusivity seekers, but it has made Secret Brunch a better, more
diverse and an open to all gathering of all humans, rather than an exclusive club for a few. And we are proud of that.
Our experience proved that any system could be outdated or even flawed, regardless of who is behind it. In our case even if it was operated by those who themselves were victims of racism. Therefore we must all be open to change, and at the same time we should all be given the chance to learn and improve.
In today's multicultural society, it is important to look from different angles, different view points and perspectives.
Times move so quickly, and what felt right yesterday, could be wrong today. So always be open to learning, exploring, looking deep within, being mindful of all feelings, and never being afraid to change.
We will continue to listen, we will continue to learn, and we will continue to do better.