Actions for Anti-Racism in Wellness Studios: How Bodyworks DW is Stepping Up
Milerka Rodriguez is a Dominican-American dance artist and entrepreneur originally from right here in NY. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, worked several jobs, and helped her mom manage a daycare business all before age 21! As a dancer, she’s been performing and teaching with various groups all over the US and the world for almost 10 years, so she’s no stranger to body aches and pains. As a new member of the Bodyworks team, she’s excited to grow and learn all she can about the best practices for self-care.
Introducing Staff Writer Milerka Rodriguez!
My name is Milerka Rodriguez, and I’m one of the support staff and writers at Bodyworks DW. As both a woman and member of the BIPOC community, it’s important that my work environment feel safe. Although my outward appearance affords me privilege in some areas, things like my name and gender can still make it difficult to navigate a white, male-dominated workforce. Sex discrimination, harassment, and racist systems are still, unfortunately, a reality. And these things all affect us in ways we can’t begin to understand. I know it has certainly impacted me and my entire family. Knowing this, David has asked me to lead the way for Bodyworks DW and help write this post on the work we are doing to promote anti-racism in wellness!
Like all of us, I’ve been thinking about what the next steps in real equality are. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about what that looks like at work. So how do I feel working at Bodyworks DW ? I can honestly say I feel comfortable and well accepted. But despite what my personal feelings and experiences are, the question we all need to be asking of our employers is: are they anti-racist?
Part of our mission is to promote diversity and equality in our workplace and if you look at our staff it’s quite diverse. But what we’re learning is that while this may be true, it’s not quite the same thing as being explicitly anti-racist. So, our team has been exploring ways in which we can change that. And not only do we want to make this happen, but we want to make it known to both staff and client alike.
We’re committed to anti-racism in wellness. Below are some steps we’re taking to make that clear.
Here’s What We’ve Done So Far on Anti-Racism in Wellness
Fair hiring practices
Bodyworks DW has always used fair hiring practices. What this means is, we review applicants based on their qualifications and experiences. We find that it’s best to put the focus on the ability to do the job. You end up with a diverse staff of people from all walks of life.
Anti-Racism in Wellness: Our Statement of intent
Back in June, our C.E.O and owner David Weintraub made a statement on racial injustice, inequality, and anti-racism in wellness. He outlined how the company hopes to be more vocal on these types of social issues. In it, he states “Black lives matter. Period, end stop.” and highlights our plans for change. You can read the entire post here.
New anti-racism bullet in our mission statement
We’ve added an important note about being anti-racist and anti-sexist to our mission statement. Generally speaking, if you’re a human and are in pain, our goal has always been to help you by providing massage therapy with long term solutions. In order to ensure we deliver the best possible care as healthcare providers, it’s important that we set biases to the side. We strive to both promote anti-racism in wellness and diversity in our workplace and create a known safe space with intentional anti-racist and anti-sexist policies. Read our full mission statement here.
Anti-racism in Wellness Pledge page
Speaking of our anti-racist and anti-harassment policies, we’ve added a page to our website that describes this in detail. We want to make sure staff and clients alike know Bodyworks DW is a space completely intolerant of ignorance. Click here to read the entire pledge.
Actions For Social Change
If you look on our website and click on our page titled Actions For Progressive Social Change, you can see the list of organizations such as the ACLU that we support and proudly donate to regularly.
The best way to learn where improvements can be made: ask!
We’ve taken a staff survey, and some of our take-aways were incredibly insightful. And will be discussed so that we can implement the best ideas:
“…One thing I have noticed though, is that although I have worked with people of just about every background, a large percentage of my clients are still middle/upper class white people. I can count on my two hands how many times I’ve seen someone of a lower socio-economic status, and that unfortunately has to do with our rates and the fact that massage is not something that is covered by most insurances….”
“…it is good to see and continue to see that diversity is an issue we are tackling head on. The best way to do so is by actively giving employment opportunities to any person of color or sexuality. As for equality, I still feel I was being treated equally in every way…”
“…I would really love to see the company invite BIPOC to conduct training on how as therapists we can actively foster an environment of diversity and equality. I believe that anyone and everyone who works in a therapeutic capacity with the general public would benefit from this type of training. I’d also love to know ways that I can show up better for my BIPOC colleagues. I am certain that, like everyone else, I have “blind spots” and a need for increased awareness…”
Anti-racism & anti-harassment Training
We will be providing our staff with NYS provided anti-racism and anti-harassment training in the immediate future. We hope to expand on this and provide training that will happen regularly, and be mandated as terms of employment.
There is no formula that can magically bring about the changes we desperately need overnight. We do know that small and consistent actions are how we get there. These efforts by our company are just first steps. Our hope is that we can continue to learn, adjust, and do our part in dismantling harmful systems.
If you have any thoughts, ideas, concerns, or encouragements about the anti-racism in wellness work we are doing, please let us know in the comments below!