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White female founders face pressure over racism



Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Coronavirus disrupted the world’s sexual health supply chain, Stitch Fix has a new growth strategy, and white female founders reckon with racism. Have a thoughtful Tuesday. 

– Reformation, Refinery29, and racism. As companies posted their support for the Black Lives Matter movement over the past two weeks, Instagram comment sections quickly filled up with allegations of hypocrisy from former employees and stories of racist behavior by those same company leaders now espousing their support.

One of the highest-profile reckonings came at Reformation, the eco-conscious women’s clothing brand founded by CEO Yael Aflalo. After being accused of racism by a former employee, Aflalo acknowledged that she had “failed” in “treating people equally…especially the black community.” (Aflalo is still CEO but took what the company calls a “step back” from the role in 2018.)

A similar incident played out at the stationery brand, founded by Jen Gotch. Also accused of racism, Gotch admitted that she was “guilty” of “creating and helping to propagate a racist company culture.” She resigned as chief creative officer.

And at the women’s news and lifestyle site Refinery29, former employees wrote on Twitter about their experiences there with racism and discrimination; cofounder Christene Barberich stepped down as editor-in-chief Monday morning. Vice Media CEO Nancy Dubuc announced that the company would commit to an “inclusive hiring process with a diverse slate of candidates” for the next editor of the site it acquired in 2019.

All three of these companies have participated in—and benefitted from—the language and branding of equality and feminism, from Refinery29’s coverage to’s empowerment-themed notebooks. That record made wrongdoing and hypocrisy on racism even more apparent—and frustrating to past employees.

The world is experiencing an unprecedented social movement, where white leaders are facing consequences for racist behavior en masse for the first time; in a way, it’s reminiscent of the early days of the #MeToo movement, when the dominoes fell fast and furiously. Other companies have been confronted with similar pressures; these three are just among the first to acknowledge them.

Read the rest of my story about the white female founders facing a reckoning over racism here.

Emma Hinchliffe

Lyron Foster is a Hawaii based African American Musician, Author, Actor, Blogger, Filmmaker, Philanthropist and Multinational Serial Tech Entrepreneur.

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