Black Lives Matter
June 11, 2020

The events in the past several weeks have been heartbreaking and have revealed how wide and painful racism is in our country. We watched the murder of George Floyd as he pleaded “I can’t breathe”, and listened to the horrific stories of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many more. Our hearts go out to the Black Community who has carried this burden for centuries. It has forced some of us to confront uncomfortable truths. For others it has exposed injustices and trauma they’ve lived with their whole lives.

Black Lives Matter is a statement of truth, seeking to counteract a lie that’s manifested itself over the years in the most evil ways. This moment is another chance for our entire country to take a hard look at systemic racism and oppression, and to fight for change. To be better.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

This takes work, not just statements. We have a responsibility to create opportunities and to empower. We have not done enough in the past, and we commit to doing more. Here are the next steps we’re working on.

Support the movement with what we do
We’ve had a long debate about what is the most effective way we can impact change. We’re still not sure what the best steps are, but we believe in the power of swag to spread a message and engage people. So we’re using our expertise to try and do just that.

We’re designing, printing and giving away 2 Black Lives Matter shirts to every employee – one to wear and one to share, with the goal of starting conversations and spreading the movement. We also extended the giveaway to our clients for further reach. Each shirt has a sticker pack and a card that contains infographics, resources, discussion questions and suggested nonprofits doing vital work. The idea is to give it to someone who may have a different view than you. Our hope is that this helps spark conversation about racial injustice and drive resources to organizations fighting for systemic change.

The Why
Wearing: One of the easiest and most effective ways to voice a message or belief is with what you wear. Why not use that space for a cause. We’ve all experienced the natural conversations that arise from something you’ve worn. This is not a one-time thing, it can happen over and over for as long as you wear the shirt. We hope this tee will help facilitate that.
Listening and Talking: Conversations can help break down walls, listening can help us see another perspective, which can lead to change. One person at a time. Racism can be uncomfortable to talk about. But we need to ask tough questions, to face it and not look away. The act of giving a shirt will hopefully help open a door to talk.

Support black owned businesses in our industry
Our intent and goal is to elevate black owned businesses and other minority owned suppliers. So far it’s been a challenge to identify black owned businesses in our industry. We’re going to dig in and find this info, it just may take longer and be more in depth than we anticipated. When we do, we’ll create a product guide to use and share with clients.

Foster an inclusive employee community
Our Kotis Diversity & Inclusion Committee was formed in March 2019. In early conversations with leaders in the D&I field, we came to understand that creating an inclusive work atmosphere is the first step in supporting our minority employees, before we can focus on being more diverse as an organization. One of the committee’s 2020 initiatives that is now underway, is to form and provide organizational and budgetary support to Employee Resource Groups “ERGs”. The intention of ERGs is to provide a safe space for different groups to share thoughts, struggles, ideas and to find a greater sense of belonging.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable in order to improve
We have a long way to go as an organization to be a model of inclusion and diversity, but we’re taking steps forward. We’re confronting bias and learning about racial inequality through trainings, internal book clubs, and facilitated discussions. We’re reviewing processes and developing management training for our minority employees. Transparency is also crucial – in 2020 Kotis pledges to make public our diversity statistics and we will continue to set measurable goals for organizational improvement. We must keep up the momentum and do better for the long haul.

We understand this is not enough and we won’t get everything right, but it’s a beginning. We’re committed to doing the work. To fighting for better, together.

Because Black Lives Matter.

How to Wear one + Share one
Email us  and we’ll send you a code to redeem the 2 shirts online (while supplies last).
1. Enter your size and shipping address (the 2nd shirt will be a standard size) The shirts will ship next week.
2. Give the 2nd shirt to someone else. Talk about racism. Be vulnerable, be open, listen. Try to see another perspective and vice versa.

3. Wear it. Spark more conversations.