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Standing for Community

Our Diversity & Belonging Philosophy

Community is about embracing diversity, inclusion, empathy, and equity in the spirit of shared purpose and values. The strongest community leaders do so with compassion and acceptance—embracing people’s differences as well as their commonalities. They stand against exclusion and strive to make the world a place that provides the life-affirming belonging we all need to thrive. As a company built around strengthening communities, the events of 2020 made us realize that we had not focused enough on countering the erosive dynamics of division and exclusion.

Making Changes

After the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others, and the demonstrations of 2020, it became essential to be more intentional in working for diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging—which we call Diversity & Belonging (D&B). This is an ongoing process that will continue to evolve. Read below to learn more about some of these efforts.

Committing to Our Internal Community

Custom Ink is committed to being a diverse and inclusive community company where every Inker (that’s what we call our team members), particularly those at high risk of being marginalized based on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or other factors, feels welcomed and a sense of belonging; is heard, valued, and can thrive as their authentic selves. We seek our commonalities and humanity while respecting and embracing our differences, and ensuring that every Inker is treated equitably and with kindness. Our commitment and unifying message extends to the diverse representation of our talent and leadership, customers, partners, and the communities where Inkers live and work.

Determining a Path Forward

Starting with round tables primarily made up of Inkers of Color, we worked to hear and understand what our team members were feeling and thinking. The experience was one of bonding, revelation, release, and understanding, and it confirmed our commitment to being a company of inclusion and belonging for all Inkers. We then consulted experts and began to make structural changes which included hiring a Director of Diversity & Community, Marilyn Hayes. As she says, "We take this commitment seriously and are working hard to positively impact Inkers, customers, and partners, along with our communities."

Committed leadership and being attentive and responsive to the feedback, insights, curiosity, and concerns of Inkers is essential to successfully infusing D&B throughout Custom Ink. We want every Inker to feel valued, included, and know that they are a key ingredient to all that we strive to achieve. Through creating opportunities for connection, sharing, innovation, and learning, the active engagement and involvement of Inkers at every level of CI is not only important to our collective success, but is also reflective of our core values.

Amplifying Voices

Seeking out customers who were making a difference in communities of color and amplifying their voices turned into a series of stories on a page designed to showcase Custom Ink fundraising campaigns dedicated to making a difference. As time went on, we broadened our scope to include fundraisers that supported multiple diversity initiatives and diverse communities. We also provided information about how others could run their own fundraising campaigns.

Fundraising campaign stories:

Partnering with Advancement Project

Advancement Project National Office, a next generation, multi-racial civil rights organization working to change systemic injustices that have impacted communities of color for generations and continue to affect them today, partnered with us this past year. We believe in the great work that they are doing and offered them our resources and support. Together, we launched a fundraiser that helped raise funds and awareness around their cause.

Founding Inker Diversity Councils

Often referred to as Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) elsewhere, Inkers are currently forming multiple Inker Diversity Councils (IDCs).The first IDC is the Racial Equity IDC which is a multicultural IDC focused on helping to solve areas of inequities inside and outside of the company.

Establishing a Diversity & Belonging Steering Committee and a Collaboration Team

Senior leadership stepped up and made a commitment to their own participation, and the steering committee provides guidance and support in all of our D&B efforts. The collaboration team represents each area of the business and meets quarterly to share any D&B initiatives, updates, challenges, or opportunities to collaborate. This helps the company to be aware, aligned, and more able to infuse D&B more broadly as a way of working throughout the organization.

Opening Channels of Communication

Out of a desire for Inkers to share their stories and experiences, a monthly D&B Newsletter was established. Each month D&B shares a newsletter that highlights a broad range of related topics, including acknowledgement months, education, and Inker features. Much of the newsletters' content is informed and often written by Inkers. We also added five Belonging Index questions to our quarterly team survey to get a baseline of Inkers' feeling of belonging and provide the opportunity for Inkers to share their feelings and are taking the learnings from those surveys to make changes within our organization.

Diversity & Community 2021 Highlights

Making Changes for Diversity & Belonging

Diverse Leadership

Women and
People of Color
to Leadership Roles

New Company Holidays

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day:

Day of Service


Time for Reflection

MLK Giving Campaign

Raised $17K+
through Inker donations

The Equity Landing Page

We launched this landing page stating our commitment to diversity and community and showing our path and our plan for the future.

Inclusive Designs Added to the Design Lab

Added to the Design Lab

3 skin tone
colors and

pieces of art
featuring them

Design1 Design2

A new

More representations of

  • Gender Identity
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Race
  • Culture/Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Family

Looking to the Future

This work is ongoing and not without challenges, but our commitment is continuous. Our goal is to infuse D&B into our “ways of working” across all areas of our business both internally and externally and continue to evolve as we grow.

We Are Hiring

You’ve read our mission. If you’ve made it this far, we’re looking for people like you. Join us and apply today.

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