“Business Against Bigotry” Initiative and “We Welcome Everybody” Graphics
New! Window decals based on the design below now are available to help spread a message of inclusivity and respect at businesses, schools, religious institutions, homes and workplaces in your community. See our merchandise page to order.
In early 2015, we created signs and graphics for businesses and organization to help stand against localized outbreaks of bigotry. More widespread problems following the 2016 U.S. elections inspired us to produce window decals and an action plan to help our local affiliates take a lead in countering bigotry (details below). We hope the decals and graphics will help you send a clear message that your community and business reject discrimination of all kinds. You are welcome to use these graphics as-is on your website and social media pages — please link or tag us when posting!
This image is optimized for posting on Twitter. You also are welcome to use it on a web page (please link back to this page). Click to enlarge, then right-click to download.
You also can download a banner sized for your Twitter home page
Why We Suggest Small Businesses Take the Lead Locally
First, of course, is the moral imperative: We all should take responsibility to ensure everyone can walk the streets, do business and live their lives free of discrimination or concern about receiving verbal or physical abuse.
But small business’ own well-being also is at stake. For one, a negative experience at one independent business can degrade a person’s perception of others – especially within that community. And if a person doesn’t feel safe from bigotry in your neighborhood, they’re far more likely to travel to one where they feel more welcome to shop or dine – or simply shop online.
Sending a clear message to anyone entering your establishment can help, but educating employees also is essential. While we hope overt bigotry from an employee or business owner is a rarity, businesses should cultivate an environment in which all customers receive welcoming treatment, not merely an absence of hostility. A friendly verbal welcome and a smile always is good business, but especially so for people who stand out from others in your community. Small businesses also should consider educating their staff on how to protect customers in the event of harassment in or around their business, without endangering their own safety.
Finally, we suggest business owners strive to hire and develop a diverse staff, including leadership positions, not only to model inclusivity, but for their business’ success. Non-ideological studies have found businesses ranked in the top quartile for diversity in gender and race generate greater profit than more homogenous ones! We welcome you to recommend additional materials to link on this page.
The graphics and business signs we produced are just one part of AMIBA’s work to help independent businesses and community business groups take a lead in diminishing bigotry and helping initiate restorative community dialogue. We currently seek a sponsor(s) to help realize plans to:
- Produce 50,000 “We Welcome Everybody” window decals to enable free distribution to businesses, churches, schools and organizations.
- Design and distribute advertisements for free adaptation and co-branding by non-profits or businesses continent-wide to create a small business voice against discrimination. Ads also will be offered in Spanish (and other languages upon request).
- Provide multiple “trainings of trainers,” from which participants will return home with experience and models to facilitate community forums — ideally partnering with other local organizations, churches, etc. These forums aim to host people of diverse perspectives for challenging discussions — organized and facilitated to help deepen understanding, defuse confrontations and ultimately create local action plans for safer and more respectful communities. While other related programs exist, we believe local business coalitions are uniquely positioned to attract people that may not feel comfortable joining forums presented by groups with obvious political or cultural agendas.
- Create radio public service announcements conveying how diversity strengthens local economies and community, to be made freely available for broadcast on radio anywhere.
If you’d like to see this campaign grow, please consider a tax-deductible contribution today and share this page with others via social media or email. To more detailed plans, discuss sponsorship or explore partnering in this initiative in any way, please contact us. Thank you!
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Letter from Molly Glasgow, President of the Metro Independent Business Alliance
(leading off their November 2016 newsletter)
People are legitimately scared. There was racist graffiti on the sidewalk near University of St. Thomas in St. Paul and at Maple Grove High School, a swastika on a jogging path in Swede Hollow, countless reports of racist and anti-immigrant bullying in Twin Cities schools, people being harassed or assaulted on the street, at gas stations, even coming out the front door of their homes. All within 24 – 48 hours [of the 2016 election]. All within our metro area. Between the time I write this and when you find it in your hands or inboxes, the list will have grown.
This is not new. But it is happening. And we’re in a position where it’s being modeled that it’s ok.
Show support. Make your businesses even more welcoming than they already are. You welcome everyone who comes through your door, also make sure to display it outwardly. Let people know it is safe to come inside. Let people know not only is it safe, but that you want them to be there.
Let your staff know they can talk to you. Give your staff the resources they need to intervene if a customer is being harassed. Encourage other businesses to do the same. Reach out to business owners who have done so in creative ways. This is not only for storefronts. We can utilize our web presences and take this as an opportunity to look at the way we present ourselves online and in print.
Note: Addressing social issues can be treacherous ground for local alliances, so the absence of any blaming or partisanship in the above letter is important. With adequate care, local business alliances can speak out effectively against violence — whether verbal or physical — when it arises in their community, but be prepared for the possibility of members objecting to your actions. Also, while harassment and intimidation absolutely are occurring, stories also have been fabricated. Be sure to check facts before repeating stories!
Add your ideas! We welcome you to engage with your peers on this topic via our discussion board on our discussion board (you can subscribe to a specific thread to stay informed of responses). Please take about one minute to create a profile in order to get to know other participants.
Related news and resources:
Six Steps to Speak Up is one useful reference to help you effectively counter bigotry
Book Review: Immigrant, Inc. is a timely read exploring the key role immigrants play in entrepreneurship & innovation in the U.S.
Nationally, immigrants comprise 13 percent of the population, but comprise 28 percent of Main Street business owners, says a 2015 report, How Immigrant Small Businesses Help Local Economies Grow.
Northshire Bookstore Responds to Free Speech Threat (January 2016)