Mindbody Black Alliance: How the Black Community Is Reshaping the World of Wellness
Inclusivity in wellness has been a topic of much discussion, especially as of late. As we celebrate the inspirational Black voices in the industry, I turned my attention to Mindbody Black Alliance, an employee resource group that focuses on wellness, growth, and a positive reflection of the Black community.
In this instalment of Meet Mindbody, I chat with three members of our Black Alliance Group—Jade Craggette, Jamaica Wells, and Arrica Peoples—to discuss their roles here at the company, what brought them to the Mindbody community, Black History Month, and moving the needle on inclusivity in wellness.
Will Price: Starting at the top. What do you do at Mindbody, and what brought you here?
Jade Craggette: I’m a senior customer and premium support specialist. I am also a leader for the Black Alliance Employee Resource Group (ERG) as well as a co-chair for the Women in Technology ERG. I came to Mindbody because I found that my skill sets and career growth was heading toward the tech industry. Instead of remaining a very tech-savvy manager, I opted to try my hand and switch industries. It paid off and I am glad I did it.
Jamaica Wells: I’m an onboarding manager in professional services. A former team member and fitness peer felt that I would be a great fit for the company and shared a job link with me. They were right and I have been here for four years.
Arrica Peoples: I’m a senior solutions engineer—and I came to Mindbody because the core values aligned with my own personal beliefs and values.
WP: Why did you join the Mindbody Black Alliance employee resource group?
JC: This community was created as a call to action brought on by massive civil unrest and the basic need for kinship during a very dark year. I felt that call and a sense of responsibility to maintain its integrity to advocate real change. This was a time where we all as humans had to look at who we support and give our time to and be certain it aligned with who we are. I feel I can initiate real progress with Mindbody through the Black Alliance with my fellow leaders at a time when I really needed to be proud to say where I worked.
JW: I am one of the founding members of the ERG. Our goal was to create a safe space for team members to share their experiences of working in tech and often being the solo minority on their team, department, and office location. The Alliance allowed team members to see reflections of themselves in various parts of the company. It also allowed us time to fellowship, support, and celebrate one another.
AP: I joined the Black Alliance for the community. Having an outlet of shared experience and cultural understanding is important to me.
WP: What does the Mindbody Black Alliance bring to Mindbody?
JC: We bring a true sense of belonging to staff who historically feel like the "other" in the room. We show that it is okay to think the way you naturally think, to feel the way you naturally feel, and be who you naturally are without having to educate or validate our existence. We say what hasn't been said and work hard to change what hasn't been changed. We make being proud of your race and heritage a priority when we often feel like they are strikes against us. The Black Alliance is committed to truly seeing, hearing, and supporting the Black team members while also not letting that newfound strength be in vain. We are also committed to bringing Mindbody into a new age of cultural diversity to truly connect everyone to wellness. As a truly international wellness company.
JW: The Black Alliance ERG brings an opportunity to amplify and support team members who may not feel they have a voice or an opportunity to make an impact in their current team or organizations. There is a benefit in community and being among team members with a common experience. It allows team members to see more value in themselves and what they bring to the table. Our ERG embraces that ideal and intends to spread the same impact throughout the company.
AP: The Alliance brings a sense of accountability and cultural awareness to Mindbody. It also gives representation of having wellness really be for all.
WP: What does the Mindbody Black Alliance bring to the world of wellness?
JC: Through our internal initiatives and efforts, we can help land Mindbody at the top of the list in wellness diversity. This can position us as the world's largest wellness software provider with the most diverse platform. Black-, indigenous-, and other people of colour- owned businesses and consumers would know with confidence who best serves their health, wellness, beauty, and fitness needs. Taking diversity out of speciality niche markets and pushing it to the collective to better service the global majority. We are helping usher in space for new, worldwide beneficial products and services that remain hidden gems waiting for a chance to be unveiled. We are helping attract the next big name in health and wellness who is being overlooked in less diverse markets. We plan to help provide a voice for innovation in wellness by helping to remove blinders in the shape of unrealistic societal wellness standards.
JW: With Mindbody being a leader in the world of wellness, they have a unique opportunity to change the way the world sees wellness and how it is represented. As an ERG we have worked to change the narrative of how Mindbody presents wellness to its broader audience and to make a positive impact in marketing, recruiting, and in support of diverse communities, specifically with Black and brown business owners.
WP: What does being a part of the Mindbody Black Alliance mean to you?
JC: It means that with passion and drive anyone, no matter where they come from and what they look like, can stand up for and advocate for themselves and others. It means that I work in a place where my voice is appreciated and heard, that my ideas and feedback are impactful. It allows us to be a conduit between real cultural or traumatic issues and business execution to plug those holes wherever they are.
JW: Being part of this ERG allows me to find balance within my current role and my passion for community impact and social justice. With my direct team, I am a leader in the transactional processes of Mindbody and get to impact the client experience with our software. As an ERG leader, I get to influence those same processes and impact the product experience for our clients and internal teams. Both roles are in alignment as they allow me to grow as a leader, work with amazing peers, and help create a wellness experience that is curated for a global audience.
WP: With the theme for Black History Month 2022 focusing on "Black Health and Wellness," where have you seen the Black community show up/be leaders/bring change to the world of wellness?
JC: EVERYWHERE! We are starting to see a true retelling of long-lost health, wellness, and beauty practices within the Black community. Prior to now, most standard practices were borrowed from Eastern Asia or some hybrid of Ayurvedic principles. Black Americans and Black people worldwide are finally rediscovering ancient African routines and centuries-old habits created in the New World during slavery. We are reclaiming our lost culture and sharing it with the world on all social media platforms and in boutique businesses. Things that used to travel strictly by word of mouth when possible and were ultimately replaced by other cultural practices are getting a brand-new revival since the 2020 lockdowns. The natural hair movement was just the beginning! Truly discovering what does not best serve our skin, hair, and bodies and removing what has historically made us more likely to suffer from specific ailments and conditions. We are seeing a new revolution on Black, indigenous, and people of colour's road to wellness that is in opposition to the one-size-fits-all approach to wellness of days gone by.
JW: Black mental health is the first thing that comes to mind with this question. There has been a major shift in rewriting the narrative that Black people do not need support, uplift, or rest. With that awareness, we are seeing Black communities share and heal mentally, reclaim their physical health, create financial security through entrepreneurship, and engage in educational opportunities that allow us to be better at everything we do. We are experiencing Black excellence and I am all for it!
AP: I have seen a shift in how the Black community is showing up and viewing mental wellness. There are more conversations happening within the newer generation on how to deal with past traumas and heal. Although the surge in focusing on mental health is not unique to the Black community, the topic has always been taboo and it is great to have a reclaimed focus on the issue.
WP: In your opinion, does the wellness industry do enough to promote inclusivity? If not, what can we do better?
JC: No. Mutual respect and promotion of all cultures, body types, and races. The wellness industry needs to stop thinking of itself in a box promoting only one appearance and approach to wellness. Respect other practices as equal alternatives and not rare or specialty services. As it stands now, the wellness industry does not best suit the global majority and we are all forced to cram everything into a box that is not made for us. It is a very exclusive box.
JW: No. The wellness industry has historically portrayed an ideal of wellness that excluded Black people in spaces outside of high-level sports like football/basketball or as patrons of businesses owned by other demographics. Maintaining the idea that wellness is only represented by a certain skin color, body type, or set of abilities does nothing to foster diversity. Black people specifically have traditionally been denied visibility in the wellness community because our skin and our bodies typically do not fall within the range of the accepted default. Culturally, there are so many options to choose from for all elements of health and wellness that are not promoted or mentioned until there is a need for inclusivity. This must change. Wellness is for everyone and should reflect the beauty of every age, skin tone, body type, and service style regardless of trends or popularity.
WP: What does wellness mean to you?
JC: Wellness has been part of my lifestyle long before joining Mindbody. I have been in the wellness and beauty industry for years, even working with Mindbody on the client side prior to being part of the team. Wellness encompasses what feeds your soul and what is best for your greatest good. It can vary from a strenuous workout to simply holding a cup of tea and feeling the warmth on your hands. Whatever brings you back to prioritizing YOU and doing good by you, that is wellness. Treat yourself well. Your body, mind, heart, and soul. Being gentle with yourself and putting you first by removing unease and discomfort. By taking the utmost care of yourself. That is what wellness means to me.
JW: For me, wellness is having the safety in knowing that you are cared for in your entirety. Wellness allows a person to run, walk, crawl, or rest as needed, without fear of being left behind. It goes beyond physical attributes and the illusion that being healthy only looks a certain way. It is the comfort of having a medical professional that looks like you and understands that a wellness journey is a lifelong process and wants to be a partner in it. Wellness is knowing that every day is not going to be perfect and having the support system to celebrate the wins and work through the challenges without judgment. Wellness is working where diversity is part of the culture, core values, and the leadership of the company. Wellness allows everyone to create their own personal wholeness and share that with others.
AP: Wellness to me means is represented by taking time to self-care. We get so busy with our day-to-day and pouring into others around us that we forget to take care of ourselves. Whether it is meditation, taking a spin class, or simply getting your hair or nails done. Treating yourself brings much-needed balance into your life.
WP: In the coming months and years, what are some of the major Mindbody Black Alliance initiatives and goals that will help shape the future of wellness?
JC: Our first and top priority as an employee resource group is to outfit our team members with wellness from within. We strive to be for each other what still remains to be desired from the industry as a whole. A place to drop your shoulders and find community. A place to get connected with resources that have us in mind in the beginning and not as a trendy afterthought. Next, we hope to remain DEI influencers within Mindbody to bring true diversity and inclusion to the wellness industry. Promoting diversity will directly impact change and open the doors for untapped resources and previously-unheard-of progress. If not one of us, I am certain we will surely influence the next breakthrough in wellness.
JW: That’s a big question and right now I can honestly say we are moving in a direction to help create a more inclusive and visible future for Black businesses within the Mindbody portfolio as well as introduce Mindbody to communities that may have been out of reach in the past. We have support resources on the calendar for our current and future team members and collaborations with other ERGs to show the shared intersectionality of our individual experiences. My advice to those engaged with DEI—take the chance to dream bigger and together wellness can truly become something for everyone.
If you’d like to learn more about our Mindbody Black Alliance Employee Resource Group, our efforts, and how diversity, equity, and inclusivity come to life at Mindbody, please visit the DEIB Resource Center.
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