As Pride Month comes to a close, we’re reflecting on a phrase from our ethos that has always been close to our hearts, but has become even more important over the past year:
You belong here.
When I first joined Coffeebar, “You belong here” was an internal message. It spoke to the idea of Coffeebar as a come-as-you-are community café with a little something for everyone, our anti-coffee snob mantra. But it wasn’t something we shouted from the rooftops. Honestly, even most employees probably had only seen the phrase once, during their first onboarding meeting.
As the company – and our team – grew, we started using “You belong here” to hold ourselves accountable to things like not using casual or colloquial discriminatory language and making sure we used peoples’ preferred pronouns. We re-worked our employee handbook and code of conduct to emphasize the importance of creating an environment where everyone – team members and guests alike – feels they belong.
But the truth is, it’s hard to define belonging. It might look different to each of us. For some, it can be as simple as getting your coffee just the way you like it from a smiling barista who knows your name. Some are looking for a third place, somewhere they can lay claim to as ‘their spot,’ like Cheers but with coffee. Some want to come to work each day with people who have become ‘friend friends’ instead of just ‘work friends.’
For some it means having businesses they support say in no uncertain terms that their lives and voices matter. That they’re a valued part of that community.
In the summer of 2020, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and amidst a new wave of the Black Lives Matter movement, “You belong here” became our promise to the communities we serve, and a goal we will never stop striving for.
We learned then how important it is to not just believe something on the inside, but to say it out loud. Say it out loud so the people who need to hear it the most know you mean it.
Watching Pride flags go up in all of our cafes and hearing our COO say, “You can be your whole self here,” I felt that promise taking one more step forward. I hope you all can feel it too.
We’ll always be working to become better allies, advocates, and amplifiers for BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and any other folx in our communities who are looking for a place to belong. We will challenge ourselves to learn. We will listen when you speak. And we will never stop saying “You belong here.”