Public Response to BKBCollective Demands 07/01/2020

Complete list of all 30 demands made by the BKBCollective.

Demand

Consideration

$ Annual Estimate to meet demand as it is stated

Status

Demand

Consideration

$ Annual Estimate to meet demand as it is stated

Status

  1. A public commitment to majority turnover of executive leadership by the end of 2020 and to fill their roles under the guidance of a professional DEI consultant

Substantially completed

The CEO, President, and Senior Director of People & Culture (who functioned as a part of the executive team) have resigned.

To fully meet this demand of a “majority turnover” as specifically stated, we would have to arbitrarily fire 2 more executives. The people in these positions generally carry the most institutional knowledge in the business, are the most expensive to replace, and often take the longest amount of time to fully acclimate to their positions. Replacement costs include severance, recruiting, possible relocation expenses (common for executive positions), institutional training, collateral employee turnover, and potential loss of revenue due to interruption in business operations. In a small niche industry, there is no guarantee we can find employees of equal or similar qualifications at similar pay rates given the short time frame by the end of 2020. A qualified CEO alone is likely to cost 1.5 to 2 times as much as Jeremy’s previous salary. A time like now, when we are facing multiple severe financial and operations threats, is the worst time to arbitrarily change leadership to people who are unfamiliar with the business or job positions, especially when all remaining executives have clearly committed to making changes within the company to not tolerate racism and foster a diverse, equal, and inclusive workplace. Further executive turnover is not financially or operationally viable at this time.

$200,000 to $300,000

Substantially completed

 

1. a. All hiring or promotions at the executive level must be approved by a hiring committee that includes a full-time DEI consultant along with a representative from each lifestyle facility at the department management level (excluding GM or AGM)

BKB is committed to incorporate DEI inclusive language in job description when recruiting new executives so as to increase the size of the qualified applicant pool. Writing job descriptions in this manner will help BKB advance its equity goals going forward. We currently have two open executive positions (CEO and VP of Culture) where we will be using this new methodology. Executive recruiting, hiring, and promotions will remain a function of BKB’s Board of Directors.

$50,000 to $100,000

 

1. b. Regular internal reviews of upper management by the same committee of rotating representatives

The executive team will undergo biannual reviews by an appropriate team selected by the CEO. This review process will have input from the Chairperson of the Board of Directors and our DEI consultant.

$20,000 to $100,000

Not financially or operationally viable

2. An end to the cultural appropriation and co-opting of BIPOC climbers’ imagery for promotional gain

See subsections below:

$0

 

2. a. Proper compensation for the subjects of any promotional imagery used on all platforms in the past, present, and future

We can commit to discussing selection of appropriate imagery with the elected facility representatives inside the appropriate committee sessions. Additionally, we can discuss compensation for use of such imagery and commit to appropriate compensation for all images used in the future. Providing compensation for and/or elimination of past imagery is potentially very difficult and expensive, more discussion will be required to establish further policy.

$10,000 to $100,000

Commitment to future compensation can be made pending further discussion

 

3. Immediate production of a documented plan and tangible commitment to increased program and facility access for the neighborhoods and communities that we operate within, and a discontinuation of discounted access for those who have been detrimental to the community

We agree to a tangible commitment to increased program and facility access for the neighborhoods and communities that we operate within. Significant efforts are already under way in this regard. The immediate production of a documented plan will require staffing resources that we do not currently have, but efforts to secure these resources are being prioritized.

$10,000 to $50,000

Commitment can be made

 

3. a. A commitment to financial reparations, programming and mentorship for Black and Brown youth and adults

Partial commitment has been made

BKB is not in a position to consider reparations. However, we are committed to addressing any real or perceived inequality at all levels of the business.

Programming and mentorship for underprivileged and underrepresented youth and adults can and will be created. Significant efforts are already under way in this regard. Furthermore, mentorship and sponsorship programs should be created for staff in order to facilitate career development for minorities, BIPOC, and adaptive employees.

$20,000 to $100,000

Partial commitment can be made

Not clear what is being asked in terms of reparations

Is discriminatory as stated.

3. b. The creation of a Community Coordinator at each facility for the purpose of engagement with the Black communities in the neighborhoods where BKB has contributed to gentrification

BKB is committed to establishing Community Coordinators to work with the local communities. More work needs to be done to determine whether this will be a part time or full time position, whether it functions locally or regionally, and what responsibilities and accountability the position will carry. Once these details are considered and funding has been secured for the position, job posting, recruiting, hiring, and training will commence.

$20,000 to $200,000

Partial commitment is possible given resource availability and greater inclusion.

Is discriminatory as stated.

3. c. Immediate discontinuation of discounted facility access being offered to members of the NYPD

Completed

BKB will no longer extend our first responder discount to members of the police department. The discount will continue to apply to all other first responders.

$0

Commitment has been made

4. Implementation of recurring training and a system of reporting that protects our Black employees and climbers, and an acknowledgement that climbing gyms are historically triggering and unsafe spaces for Black climbers and employees

Partial commitment has been made

The first demand listed here, recurring training, is covered in 4. a. below.

The second demand, implementing a system of reporting, is already in progress. An HR issue ticketing system is being developed that will allow anyone to easily and confidentially report any incident, and allow us to follow up with accountability to address any issues raised.

It is unclear what kind of acknowledgement is being asked in the third demand.

 

Commitment has been made to the second demand

Is discriminatory as stated.

4. a. A commitment to not only robust, but recurring, implicit bias training for staff at every level of the company. Training needs to be explicit that working with Black staff involves listening to Black co-workers when they have concerns, and that group thinking in a predominantly white organization can be dangerous to Black people, especially when fear of retaliation may prevent them from speaking out against racist transgressions.

Commitment has been made

BKB is committed to incorporate robust, recurring, implicit bias training for facility and HQ staff. Several training programs are already being explored and quoted. Training should cover a wide range of potential inclusion and bias issues.

 

$20,000 to $50,000

Commitment has been made

Is discriminatory as stated.

4. b. A reporting and accountability system that documents and tracks microaggressions reported within the facility, and a commitment to monitor trends within facilities and take action to correct them

Commitment has been made

BKB is committed to establishing a reporting, investigation and accountability system. Significant efforts are already under way in this regard. An HR issue ticketing and investigation system is currently being developed that will allow anyone to easily and confidentially report any incident, and allow us to follow up with accountability to address any issues raised.

 

$5,000

Commitment has been made

4. c. Procedural support for employees to hold customers accountable for racist or discriminatory behavior

Commitment has been made

BKB is committed to establishing a reporting, investigation and accountability system. Significant efforts are already under way in this regard. An issue ticketing and investigation system is currently being developed that will allow anyone to easily and confidentially report any incident, and allow us to follow up with accountability to address any issues raised.

$0

Commitment has been made

5. Monetary and mental health support for our Black staff, who overwhelmingly work in some of the lowest paid jobs within the organization

See subsections below:

$50,000 to $100,000

Is discriminatory as stated.

5. a. A respectable, living wage for employees of all levels

BKB is committed to evaluate its compensation system and to help provide opportunities for advancement when and where appropriate. Further discussion about pay rates and benefits will be conducted with the elected facility representatives inside the appropriate committee sessions.

$200,000 to $500,000

Commitment can be made

5. b. Quarterly raises for both part time and full time employees

BKB cannot commit to quarterly raises. At a nearly insignificant flat rate $.05/hr. per quarter, it would take 5 years for an employee to reach just a $1.00/hr. raise in pay, but that amount could add approximately $500,000 to company payroll if applied to all part-time and full-time employees. Clearly this is unsustainable.

$100,000 to $500,000

Not financially or operationally viable

5. c. Full pay transparency for all positions within the company

BKB will not provide specific salaries and compensation transparencies throughout the company. We are, however, considering the option of publishing information about pay bands for all positions in the company.

A lack of understanding among employees is one of the biggest downsides to salary transparency. It's easy for an employee to put the blinders on and only feel frustration after seeing they're making less money than a co-worker. Salary transparency can backfire because it's the nature of people to compare, and they wouldn't necessarily be making accurate comparisons because they don't have all of the information required to do so. Also, there are different philosophies on how compensation is determined.

$0

More discussion needed

5. d. More affordable healthcare options offered immediately in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the disproportionately high toll it has taken on the Black community

BKB is limited in healthcare options provided. However, we are committed to explore what other options might be available and associated costs.

$?

More discussion needed

5. e. A commitment to Wellness at Work, including free and easily accessible mental health support both on and off the clock, which addresses the emotional toll of working within the climbing industry for our Black staff

BKB will explore healthcare plans that include mental health benefits, and is considering the creation of a staff Wellness Fund that would make support accessible to those in need.

$20,000 to $40,000

More discussion needed

Is discriminatory as stated.

6. Immediate release of all former employees from their NDAs.

6. a. NDAs have historically been used by Brooklyn Boulders to bully and silence individuals who have either left the company or been forced out, and prevent them from speaking to the racism and abuse that they either experienced or witnessed while on the job

Non-disclosure agreements do not prevent anyone from making claims to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for discriminatory or abusive actions. NDA’s are largely intended to protect against theft of intellectual property and operational knowhow as well as the mutual protection of privacy for both employee and employers.

Upon termination, NDAs are used to help resolve allegations so both parties are able to move forward. Terminated employees have the option of not signing an NDA and not settle with BKB. This would permit them to take any action they believe is appropriate.

BKB is considering steps to ensure that employees know when and how to make a claim to the EEOC.

 

Not financially or operationally viable

6. b. An end to the use of NDAs moving forward

BKB cannot commit to eliminating NDAs. Non-disclosure agreements do not prevent anyone from making claims to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for discriminatory or abusive actions. They are largely intended to protect against theft of company intellectual property and operational knowhow as well as the mutual protection of privacy for both employee and employers.

 

 

Not financially or operationally viable

7. An end to at-will employment, which has been used repeatedly to target Black employees for termination that has been unrelated to job performance

BKB will not tolerate discriminatory practices of any kind, and is committed to investigating and resolving any reported instances of past undue terminations. At-will employment does not prevent anyone from making claims to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for discriminatory or abusive actions.

The primary alternatives to at-will employment are independent contracting and employment agreements.

Independent contractors do not have job security, and are not eligible for benefits such as health insurance.

Employment agreements must be negotiated at the outset of employment, and often favor those that have negotiation and contract experience or who can afford attorneys. A potential disadvantage of an employment agreement is that if one or both parties believe a provision of the agreement should be changed, the parties must work together to renegotiate the change. Parties may find renegotiation to be burdensome and sometimes expensive for both parties, especially if more than one change is wanted. A party who breaches the implied duty can be sued by the other party, such as in the case of an employee wishing to quit or move before the term of the contract is completed.

Due to the limitations of other options and the fact that it doesn’t prevent the reporting of discriminatory practices or wrongful dismissal, at-will employment remains the best option to protect our employees and business.

$100,000 to $200,000

Not financially or operationally viable

7. a. If terminating Black employees, the process must include accounts from multiple witnesses who can attest to the fireable offense

BKB must be able to take action when it learns of inappropriate conduct, and is committed to incorporate its legal counsel into all investigations when and where appropriate. It is BKB’s obligation to investigate certain types of misconduct. 

As having an HR policy that is specifically different for only black employees would be illegal under the Equality Act, BKB will ensure that our HR policies protect all employees and follow proper investigative and documentation procedures.

 

 

7. b. Employees are allowed a co-worker of their own choosing to be a witness in any disciplinary action that management takes, including termination.

BKB would suggest that a facility representative be included where there is no confidential information being discussed. Often, there are allegations that the terminated employee doesn’t want disclosed or made public and HR has to take that into consideration. Changes and enhancements to our policy in this regard will be discussed further with the elected facility representatives inside the appropriate committee sessions.

 

More discussion needed

8. Juneteenth (June 19th) is to become a company holiday, along with the addition of MLK day

Completed

BKB has designated both Juneteenth and MLK Day BKB as official company holidays. Columbus day will not be observed as a company holiday

$20,000 to $30,000

Commitment has been made

8. a. Columbus day will be unacknowledged and removed from the company calendar

Completed

$0

Commitment has been made

9. Management commits to no expansion, redevelopment, executive salary raises, or creation of additional executive positions until our demands are met

Expansion, redevelopment, and creation of additional executive positions might be the only way to afford and/or accomplish many of the other demands listed. For example, the addition of a qualified Vice President of Culture (HR) is essential to the effective execution of a number of these demands.

Due to the pandemic, BKB executives have all taken significant salary cuts, more than any other positions in the company, and there is not a current expectation of when the salaries will return to pre-pandemic levels let alone assigning additional raises.

It would be impossible to commit to these items ‘until our demands are met’, as not all demands listed can be legally or operationally met.

In terms of expansion, new BKB Lifestyle gyms in Lincoln Park, Illinois, and in Eckington (DC) are already under lease and development will continue. Due to the pandemic, all other development opportunities have been paused indefinitely.

 

Not financially or operationally viable

9. a. Company profits are to be directed to first meeting these demands before launching new initiatives

BKB commits to making a priority of appropriating funds as is possible to support its commitments to the requests contained in the Collective’s Petition as well as our other DEI initiatives.

Due to the pandemic, BKB does not expect to generate profits until late in 2021 or perhaps even until 2022. At any future time in which we do produce profits, those will first be directed to servicing debt as is required by our lenders.

It is unclear from this statement what might be included as ‘new initiatives’. The launching of new initiatives might be the only way to afford and/or accomplish many of the other demands listed.

Additionally, not all demands in the petition can be legally or operationally met, rendering it impossible to agree to ‘first meeting these demands’ before any other action is taken.

 

Not clear what is being asked

9. b. Capital investment is to be redirected away from expansion in the luxury fitness sphere, which takes advantage of wealth inequality and contributes to gentrification

Completed

BKB is committed to its 4 wall lifestyle facilities similar to Chicago, Somerville, Gowanus and QB and is discontinuing further development of BKBX facilities.

 

Completed

9. c. Funds are to be reinvested in facility level staff and in the expansion of outdoor access for underserved communities

BKB is committed to the communities where our facilities are located. We are also committed to reaching out to those communities and developing programs of inclusion for those that underserved. We believe that this should be done at the facility level and should be done under the direction of the elected facility representatives within the appropriate committee sessions that are being created.

Expansion of outdoor access is not within the current operating capacity of BKB, and as such would take significant investment of time and money to accomplish. While we agree with this concept in spirit and can commit to encouraging - and perhaps even limited enabling of - outdoor access, development of a comprehensive BKB outdoor access program should be seen as a lower priority item compared to the other demands and DEI initiatives.

$40,000 to $80,000

Not clear what is being asked

 

TOTAL POTENTIAL COST OF DEMANDS AS THEY ARE STATED

$885,000 to $2,455,000