LONDON, United Kingdom — The wellness industry is getting a charter for racial diversity, inclusion and access, as part of a groundbreaking initiative aimed at driving real systemic change.
Launched by WellSpoken, an accreditation scheme, aimed at putting credible content at the forefront of wellness, the charter comes at a time when the call for action against racial inequality has never been stronger.
Last week, we highlighted some of the wellness brands that have been quick to demonstrate their values and allyship following worldwide protests sparked by police brutality, and underpinned by years of racial discrimination. However, for greater transparency and meaningful change, it will take more than hashtags and performative Instagram posts.
To ensure that black and minority groups are treated fairly and existing road blocks due to systemic racism are dismantled, WellSpoken has brought together more than 150 black and minority wellness professionals all of which are calling for change, including fitness trainer Antoine Dunn, Registered Clinical Nutritionist Amaze Madukah, medical and cosmetic doctor Ewoma Ukeleghe, and yoga teacher Peace Alima, to inform industry-wide reform.
“We’ve been talking about diversity in wellness for years and it has been a really hard drum to bang,” founder Sarah Greenidge tells Welltodo.
“Over the last few weeks, we have seen many brands make a commitment to tackle the lack of diversity in the wellness industry. And, while we applaud this first step, for there to be real change we need an industry-wide, unified approach to raise the standard across the sector and we need to see ongoing action. We hope the charter provides a clearer idea of what action to take, for organisations that are in support of change but not sure what their next move is.”
The charter, which Greenidge explains is “from the people, for the people,” aims to tackle three diversity challenges plaguing the industry in the UK: health inequality, lack of access, and under-representation faced by black and minority groups. And it’s calling wellness brands to commit to tackling the following five pillars:
To proactively provide education to all staff on the impact of racism and discrimination on health outcomes and inequality for black and minority groups, and reflect these learning in future marketing and sales strategies.
To increase corporate diversity in the industry by proactively looking to hire Black and minority individuals in-house (from junior to c-suite levels) and commit to working with third-parties who hold the same values.
To increase the representation of black and minority groups in marketing campaigns, social content and advertising. Move away from tokenism and to inclusion by amplifying and partnering with Black and minority voices.
To remove the roadblocks or obstacles that specifically affect black and minority consumers access to products, services or events, through the inclusion of pricing tiers and other access strategies.
To move away from requesting free labour from Black and minority influencers, content developers or freelancers, by committing to pay for work produced or time given to wellness brands.
Businesses that sign up will undergo an initial audit to establish where they currently sit and what they need to do to meet the standards laid out in the charter. A review will take place every twelve months to see how the pledges have been implemented and achieved — information that will be shared publicly.
By providing a clear roadmap for businesses, Greenidge hopes it will facilitate a move away from the kind of optical allyship and virtue signally that we currently see into meaningful industry-wide change.
“What a lot of brands want to do is be seen to be doing something really quickly, which is understandable at a time like this when consumers want to see where you stand but it needs to be thoughtful and done in a genuine way, not knee jerk,” she argues
“This won’t be an overnight change, it’s got to be organic, authentic and genuine which will take time,” she adds.
Off the back of the charter, Greenidge says she is also working to create a directory for black and minority wellness professionals and practitioners, many of whom are currently not visible within the industry. “At present, these people are not being allowed in the room, when they should be part of everyday conversations about health and wellness,” Greenidge reveals.
By boosting the visibility of black and minority individuals who are at the top of their respective fields, the goal is to make it easier to spark meaningful collaboration and partnerships within the industry — and produce content that better caters to these demographics.
“Your credibility as a wellness brand is tied to how well you can provide accurate and inclusive information to your entire customer base. And understanding how racism contributes to inequalities in health and lower health literacy should completely alter the way you communicate about health and wellness,” Greenidge tells Welltodo.
“It’s imperative that black and minority wellness professionals inform this process, as these are the people it directly affects.”
The Wellness Industry Charter for Racial Diversity, Inclusion and Access launches today. Find out more about how to sign up, here.