Wellness companies across the US, including Nutritious Life, are striving to become more diverse within the walls of their own businesses as well as promote more inclusion and equity as a part of their campaigns and brand initiatives. Historically, you would rarely see a Black, Indigenous or Person of Color (BIPOC) appear in any wide-ranging wellness related advertising or marketing campaigns. Brands, in general, used limited, if any, diversity as it related to skin tone, hair texture, body shapes, or cultural background.
Fortunately, we have reached a point in time when companies in the wellness industry are finally starting to recognize that they can and must do better when it comes to inclusive representation both internally and in their campaigns, promotions and products. This lack of diversity and inclusion is a systemic issue which will require bold steps to bring about lasting change. There is a long road ahead, but here at Nutritious Life we are on our way.
In continuing to be a part of the solution, we spoke to some of our Nutritious Life Studio BIPOC alumni to discuss how the wellness industry can do better when it comes to diversity and inclusion. One thing was made clear—while Black History Month is an extremely important time to shed light on the BIPOC communities—we can’t limit the effort of awareness to the challenges they face within our industry to only one month a year.
Read on to hear how change can be made, starting today.
HOW WELLNESS COMPANIES THEMSELVES CAN INCORPORATE MORE DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
FOLLOW THROUGH IS ESSENTIAL
Amanda Robinson, is a “movement master” and NLS alum. A veteran NBA Dancer and classically-trained ballerina, Amanda has performed with everyone from Nicki Minaj, Drake, Lin Manuel Miranda, and appeared on SNL and America’s Got Talent. As a fitness trainer and health coach, she has first-hand experience and insight as to where the industry is lacking.
She notes that there are many mistakes companies in the industry are making as it relates to diversity. While they may have the best of intentions, the issue comes with lack of follow through. As Robinson points out, being all talk and no action is a huge issue. “A great example was when many companies posted the black square on Instagram to support Black Lives Matter, then failed to keep this issue on the forefront of their platforms once the fanfare died down,” she says. Consistency and follow through are key.
There doesn’t need to be an elaborate plan to start. Some ways Robinson suggests getting started:
- Reach out to initiate contact and build personal relationships with people of color.
- Evaluate your team to consider if they portray a diverse, inclusive unit.
- Strategize, hire, and work in coalition with people of color on a regular basis to amplify their voices, understand their experience, and honor their contributions to society/the business.
- Use your platform to honor historical figures and the stories of people of color routinely rather than just during designated cultural holidays/celebratory months.
- Digest and discuss the implications of white privilege and demonstrate advocacy for allyship on how to dismantle it.
- ID racism as it’s happening and let this be an ongoing conversation to confront these issues over and over again in public and private.
There are so many talented black professionals in the wellness industry. In order to truly do better, companies need to champion those rising stars. “Don’t just give POC a seat at the table, but rather after years of muting and diluting their culture, put them on a pedestal loudly and proudly,” Robinson says. “Celebrate the beautiful differences of POC and increase mindfulness and awareness around the importance of diversity, and organize events, forums, features/tributes to amplify the voices of POC.”
ENGAGE PEOPLE OF COLOR YEAR ROUND
Dr. Cori Cooper is a pharmacist and Nutritious Life Certified health coach. As a working mom herself, Dr. Cori understands what happens when women allow work to dictate their priorities and ultimately sacrifice their health for a steady paycheck. She uses her Clean Up Your Gut™ system to show women a path to business ownership and financial independence.
Her business model involves helping women of color build a successful network marketing business by giving them access to a duplicatable system focused on gut health in order to create residual income. She encourages all wellness leaders to not only employ people of color, but also to partner with communities of color to execute on business objectives. “Only engaging people of color by doing the above at certain times of year (like Black History Month), or following an event that publicly attacks people of color isn’t going to move the needle,” she explains. “Companies should develop a diversity and inclusion advisory council that encourages constant dialogue around issues of color and regularly engages the community of people of color. This is critical in the wellness community because of the perception of the type of people involved in wellness businesses.”
Some of the ways Dr. Cooper suggests getting started:
- Acknowledge issues important to those communities and become an active partner.
- Offer support to employees of color where applicable.
- Realize this is an important conversation not limited to one month out the year or following an incident that demands attention.
- Know the numbers. Data suggest that companies that focus on diversity and inclusion are more successful and report more satisfactory work environments.
MEET PEOPLE WHERE THEY ARE
Lorien Talmadge is a holistic lifestyle coach, AADP Board Certified and currently pursuing her Master Certification with Nutritious Life Studio. Her mission is to demystify what is required to live optimally by making small, doable shifts that have huge impacts. “Diversity can include creating an accessible space for clients, but also employees and practitioners. Wellness is for everybody and should be reflected that way from branding and marketing to what services the company is offering. “Wellness needs to meet people where they are. In building a wellness brand, it must be treated as a true community and in community, there is engagement, conversation and a sense of belonging. To do that the members must feel like they can engage, be seen and honored for who they truly are.”
Becoming a more diverse and equitable organization takes real work that is deeper and more involved than changing a company’s social media footprint, and posting more photos doesn’t solve the problem! While companies are trying to be more diverse, there’s still room for improvement. “I’ve seen companies add more BIPOC to their Instagram posts, but the focus on the external branding doesn’t translate into understanding what diversity looks like, Tamadge notes. She explains what will truly change the script is the understanding of the culture and the need to adjust the programming, not just adding more photos. “Rather than acknowledge this is unchartered territory for them and they don’t know what to do, they either do nothing or assume they know the solution and operate from that place and miss the mark entirely,” she continues.
Tamadge recommends that companies be open and vulnerable about what they don’t know, and then ask. “Authenticity is key, so engaging or consulting with a team that can help inform and fill in those blanks is a great step,” she says.
One way to do that is to leverage your existing community and ask the hard questions—but she warns that you need to be prepared for honest answers. Then, you show up and take action. “Once you know better, you have to do better,” she adds. “The actions become the mission statement and your community, employees, clients will see that you are really intentional in this space when your actions, not just your words do the talking.”