Company update April 2021
Last summer, the Black Lives Matter movement brought the issue of racial injustice, and all other forms of inequality, into sharp focus. We, like many other brands, were shocked by what we saw and determined to take positive action to promote diversity, inclusion and equality. As passionate cyclists, we firmly believe that cycling has the power to change lives and help make the world a better place. But for the true potential of pedal power to be realised, it must be accessible to all.
With that in mind, we made three key commitments. Looking within, we resolved to make our internal culture as open and inclusive as possible. Beyond our four walls, we wanted to change the way we portray cycling by reflecting the diversity of wider society. And crucially, we also set out to focus on the future by pledging to support more people from more diverse backgrounds in finding new pathways into cycling.
Over the last few months, we have become increasingly aware that this is just the beginning of a long journey. Like a cyclist with many miles ahead of them, there are no shortcuts, and certainly none worth taking. But we’re in this for the long run. We know there are challenges ahead – we’ve already faced a few – but we remain committed to tackling them head on. And while there’s still a long way to go, we’ve already made progress in the months that have passed since we made our initial commitments.
Our first reaction to the events of last summer was to come together. In various groups, large and small, throughout Rapha we gathered to talk about the issues raised in a way that many of us hadn’t before. Over the course of many conversations, discussions and debates, we listened and learned collectively, from each other and our community. One thing that quickly became apparent during this phase of introspection was that we did not have all the answers ourselves.
From fabric technologists to software engineers, we work with experts in a number of areas at Rapha. But eliminating bias and discrimination from the workplace requires a whole different kind of expertise. To guide us through the early stages of our journey and embed the knowledge that we will need in the future, Rapha has partnered with an external consultant, The Honeycomb Works.
Together, we have engaged with every member of our team to better understand the internal biases that exist at Rapha. Since then, we have discussed the findings in open feedback sessions and set up our first employee resource group to give a voice to a broader, more diverse range of staff members. With passionate members from Rapha teams around the world, the ERG reflects the diversity of our staff and will help us to create a more open and inclusive culture.
As well as focusing on our internal culture, we have been working hard to change the way we portray cycling outwardly by representing more diverse cycling communities. Key to this is our commitment to dedicate at least 50% of our athlete sponsorship to BAME, LGBTQ+ and female riders and their teams. We expect to meet this target by the end of this year but we won’t stop there. Over the next few years, we are looking forward to working with all of our sponsored athletes and teams to make cycling more accessible and inclusive than ever.
Looking further into the future, we will also continue the great work of the Rapha Foundation, which now supports more than ten grantees around the world. From a restored London velodrome to college outreach programs in the US, each of our grantees is committed to creating a brighter future for cyclists from underserved communities around the world. Together, they already support thousands of cyclists, including many young women and cyclists from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds. And with new grantees in Japan and Australia recently announced, the Foundation will be able to help even more people access the joys of riding a bike this year.
Whilst we are proud of the progress we’ve made in recent months, no one at Rapha is under any illusions that our work here is done. It never will be. There will always be ways to improve and this is just the beginning of a long journey. Even since last June, we’ve faced a few challenges on our way. But these serve only to draw us closer together and make us more determined to keep on working towards our commitments. Before the next time we update you, we’re sure that there will be more obstacles to overcome. But by pulling together as a community, we’re equally sure that we will overcome them.
Black Lives Matter June 2020 Pledge
Rapha exists to make cycling the most popular sport in the world. In everything we do, from the clothing we design to the stories we tell to the communities we celebrate, we have attempted to portray our deep and honest love for the sport. We are all cyclists, our staff draw immense inspiration from all those who ride a bike and we are each motivated by connecting riders all over the world.
But if we are ever to fulfil that purpose, if we are ever to create a truly global, popular sport that embraces everyone, we must first acknowledge that too little has been done to promote its diversity and to encourage participation in diverse communities. In our sincere attempts to promote and grow cycling, it is clear that we have not done enough to challenge the traditional image of our sport and that more can be done to ensure our own internal culture represents a true reflection of society. Rapha believes that cycling has the power to transform the lives of any one in the world, regardless of colour, creed, class, gender or sexuality and we have taken the time to reckon with the reality that we have not done enough to truly demonstrate that power.
Both internally and externally, there is much more we can do to promote and support diversity in a sport that is still too easily characterised as white, privileged and exclusive, and to foster equality as well as inclusion. To that end, we today make the following tangible and measurable commitments to creating and presenting a more diverse and inclusive sport:
1.Internal culture: We have committed to a series of initiatives, using existing internal resources as well as external support, to ensure our own employees feel supported and every member of staff is educated on the issues surrounding diversity, representation and equality in our industry. We have also begun the process of commissioning an external consultant to evaluate our internal culture and hiring practices. This will include the foundation of an employee resource group (ERG) comprised of a diverse and representative group of employees to provide an internal support network for staff, to ensure diversity in recruitment, retention and promotion, and to incorporate a broad cross-section of opinions in cultural and brand decisions.
2.Investment in the sport: Working to promote diversity in the broader sport, Rapha will also commit additional funding to actively invest in diversity in cycling. The Rapha Foundation invests $1.5m annually to support underrepresented cycling communities around the world. Going forward we will commit to investing $1m of that annual funding to specifically support Black, Asian, minority ethnic (BAME) and female focused programs and initiatives. In 2021, Rapha will allocate at least 50% of our athlete sponsorship investment to support a more diverse spectrum of athletes, specifically BAME and LGBTQ+ cyclists as well as female teams and riders at the highest level of the sport, and commit to directing an equal proportion of our investment in associated content around those athletes and their stories.
3. Representation and inspiration: As well as working internally, and ensuring the above ERG is heard in internal marketing and brand decision-making, in 2020 we will also commission an external, expert-led review of our brand activity to better understand how we can best represent more diverse riding communities. That review will report objectively on the current representation of BAME, women and LGBTQ+ groups and cultures within our communications, content and campaigns, and we commit to actioning the recommendations inspired by that audit.
In formalising our adherence to these commitments, it is important that we are more transparent as a brand and are regularly held accountable for promoting and representing diversity within the sport. We will therefore create a diversity advisory group, made up of internal and external representatives with a variety of ethnic backgrounds, genders and sexualities from within the sport, to guide and critique our work in each of these four areas. Starting in 2021, that group will create and publish externally an annual diversity performance report analysing Rapha’s progress in promoting diversity in cycling through our own internal structure, our investments and our brand activity.
In further increasing the transparency around our purpose, we have begun work on a series of public resources available for our staff and to be published on rapha.cc as well as in our clubhouse network, outlining our commitments and activities in promoting better representation for people of all backgrounds in cycling. These will be published in more detail as soon as possible.
As a brand with community at our heart, we will also take the time to listen and learn from you all, starting now. For any immediate questions or thoughts regarding this statement, please contact us using the link below.