As critical conversations about racial equality and black representation across the industry continue, the African American Footwear Forum will hold its next event virtually on Friday.
“Join the Solution to the Revolution Powered by Pensole and FDRA” will take place via Zoom on Friday at 1 p.m. ET. Registration for the meeting, which is strictly for black members of the footwear industry, is open now.
“It’s an opportunity for you to be represented in the industry and for you to share your ideas and solutions to help your brand and our industry to get better,” Pensole Design Academy founder D’Wayne Edwards told FN. “[It’s also a chance] for you to expand your community of black and brown professionals so you know you are not alone in this pursuit of equality.”
With this event, the African American Footwear Forum has several goals — including establishing a black employee census to account for everyone within the industry.
“This is for accuracy and public knowledge to be transparent about what the percentage of black and brown [employees] are in the industry,” Edwards explained. “Brands and the public cannot measure the impact of their commitments without knowing where to start. Once we have the count, concrete plans can be created that can be measured.”
The African American Footwear Forum is also asking for solutions from each participant to form a comprehensive list.
“If you are offering a solution to something, it was a problem,” Edwards said. “Our goal is to gather as many solutions as we can so we can create one master document to share with all of the black and brown employees to share with their respective companies as a way to help if they are looking for guidance.”
The master list will then be published online via AAFF.us.
Importantly, black industry veterans will speak during Friday’s meeting to the weight of the moment and the responsibility leaders must accept.
“We have been going backwards or standing still for too long and it is time for us to move forward. With new commitments from brands like Jordan, Nike, Converse, Adidas, Reebok and others — combined with a list of hundreds, if not thousands, of solutions directly from the people — our focus should be doing our part to hold our industry and ourselves accountable for the change we want to see,” Edwards said.
Although this is the first Zoom meeting, it will not be the last.
“This first virtual call is our new normal until we can hopefully come together again next February. With this call, our goal is to create unity by being counted, offering solutions and moving forward,” Edwards said. “We will follow up this call with the results of the first call by sharing our count to date of black and brown employees and the solutions gathered. The second call and those after will be open to the public.”
After the second call, according to Edwards, the goal is hold meetings monthly.
“It is time for the industry to better understand us as people — and understand our contributions,” Edwards said. “We will use this moment to broadcast how the brands who have made a pledge to help the black community an opportunity to provide a monthly update of their progress. Our goal is to ensure those commitments are being honored.”