Update from the Paul Mitchell Equity & Opportunity Council

November 6, 2020
Paul Mitchell Schools
General News

Hi everyone. Winn Claybaugh here, Dean and Cofounder of Paul Mitchell Schools. Like all of you, I have been heartbroken over the events surrounding George Floyd’s death and the resulting unrest across America. When my heart aches, the only thing I know to do is to get busy and give back. I sincerely believe that hope is born out of participation in hopeful solutions, which is why I reached out to several Black leaders and mentors in our Paul Mitchell world, so we could work together and take steps to bring about positive change. I did a podcast with Patrice Washington, who shared heartbreaking stories that educated all who listened. Along with John Paul Mitchell System’s Corporate Culture Ambassador Mara Gourdine, we reached out to Cedric King, Tim Storey, and others to ask, “What do I need to know?” And then John Paul Mitchell Systems and Paul Mitchell Schools created the Equity and Opportunity Council, which includes Black Paul Mitchell School owners, many of their adult children (representing our next generation of leaders), several Black Advanced Education Team members, salon and barbershop owners, and the top corporate leadership for Paul Mitchell Advanced Education and John Paul Mitchell Systems—about 40 leaders in all.

To all of our Black and African American Future Professionals, team members, educators, leaders, and alumni – I want to repeat what I said in my last video: we see you, we hear you, we love you, and we are committed to creating an environment where each and every person feels loved and supported when you step through our doors to embark on the future of your dreams.

To ALL of our Future Professionals, team members, educators, leaders, and alumni – I thank you for taking the time to listen and learn about the steps we have taken in the last few months and what we plan to do next, to address the pain of racial injustice felt by so many people in this world.

We are committed to making permanent changes, not just embracing a temporary slogan. Some of our recent steps include using our Paul Mitchell Schools platform to educate people, encourage them to sign a national petition, and celebrate the news that the House of Representatives has passed the CROWN Act. If passed by the Senate, this long-overdue law will prohibit discrimination based on hair texture and hairstyle.

We’re also adding new members to the Equity and Opportunity Council, representing Asian, Hispanic, and Latina/Latino points of view.

Since its formation, the Equity and Opportunity Council has already donated over 500 hours as they explored areas for improvement and created implementation plans. Many of their ideas have already been adopted in our Paul Mitchell Schools. I’d like to share with you what some of the committees are working on.

The Philanthropy and Community Elevation Committee selected three nonprofit organizations to receive a $60,000 pledge from Paul Mitchell Schools. Committee members carefully researched several charities and identified three that are consistent with our mission and vision:

  • Since 1944, UNCF (the United Negro College Fund) has provided opportunity and hope to Black and minority youth through scholarships and services for under-represented students and Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or
  • The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation was founded in 2018 by actress Taraji P. Henson to eradicate the stigma around mental health in the African-American community and to provide support and bring awareness to the mental health issues that plague this community
  • 501CTHREE was founded by young actor and entertainer Jaden Smith (son of actors Will and Jada Smith) to provide clean water and healthy food in distressed inner-city communities through their Water Box and Food Box initiatives.

The Philanthropy and Community Elevation Committee’s next steps include continuing to actively engage with these three charities, identifying additional charities to support, and recommending a social justice charity to include in the 2021 Paul Mitchell Schools’ FUNraising campaign.

The Education Committee is literally reimagining all areas of education in our schools. They started by acknowledging and celebrating our texture curriculum, which happens to be the largest and most robust of all our curriculums. It includes physical and chemical processes, theory, histology, braiding, wet and dry styling, extensions, and long hair upstyling. In 2019, we filmed Learning Leader training videos for texture, cutting, color, and barbering, and we recently released Keynote presentations to our Learning Leaders for every texture lesson. Part of our growth in the areas of texture education is to continue building on our strong foundation, reminding our schools of what already exists, and ensuring that they utilize this wealth of information. We just completed our two-day Virtual Texture Specialist Training, with 92 attendees, representing 84 Paul Mitchell Schools.

In our curriculum and team training, we recognize that a huge part of moving forward is listening, learning, and growing. In this spirit, we are engaging in an open dialogue and taking a fresh look at our curriculum and systems, including the development of segments on equity, unconscious bias training, culture and diversity, opportunities for all, Black history, and the history of Black hairstyles.

Our goal is to ensure that ALL students have the tools, training, and hands-on experience to confidently serve guests of every race and all textures and formations of hair. A panel of twelve Paul Mitchell Schools’ Advanced Education team members and JPMS artists analyzed distinctive Afro/coily hair doll heads from three providers, comparing costs, bulk pricing, and service results. They also performed 120 hours of hair service tests on the doll heads, including coloring, relaxing, wet and dry styling, cutting, barbering, and braiding. Based on their results and the Committee’s recommendations, we’re improving our student kits, curriculum, and training to include Afro/coily hair mannequins and additional coily hair–focused lessons. Additional details will come soon.

Our classrooms, imagery, social media, and websites will include more opportunities to showcase Black artists and educators as leaders and mentors that a broader Black audience can identify with and be inspired by.

The Education Committee also hosted four meetings with a total of 55 texture artists, educators, and stylists. The most recent meeting focused on the history of Black hair and expanding our Texture and Formation Chart.

We also held a successful Bantu Knot Style contest, where Future Professionals learned about and practiced the technique, which has a rich Black hair history.

Upcoming plans include a Sculpt and Style contest that will focus on “wet hairstyling” techniques such as finger waves, pin curls, barrel curls, wraps, and more. And we are in the planning stages for hosting several Texture Specialist Trainings in 2021, designed specifically for our Learning Leaders who represent 100+ Paul Mitchell Schools in our network. These Specialist Trainings focus on Thermal and Chemical Services, Style and Finishing Methods for Natural Dry and Natural Wet Styles, Braiding, Extensions and Locs, as well as Foundation Styling and Long Hair Design. Specialist Trainings are created specifically to support continued education and teaching methodology practices for our Learning Leaders across the network.

The Branding and Digital Marketing Committee conducted self-audits and reviewed  past campaigns to identify opportunities for improvement in our 2021 planning and in laying the groundwork for inclusive and diverse representation. The committee also collaborated with our key distribution partners on collateral materials and content to support our partners’ own diversity commitments.

Upcoming plans include a hashtag PMTS ONE social media campaign to celebrate the inclusive culture of Paul Mitchell Schools. Through beautiful and educational posts on the Paul Mitchell Schools and JPMS social media platforms, the PMTS ONE campaign will amplify the diverse and individual voices of our Future Professionals, alumni, and school team members who represent the full embodiment of our schools’ culture.

The Scholarship Committee has been working hard to design and launch the Uplift Scholarship Program. To qualify for an Uplift Scholarship, applicants must have at least one parent who is or has been incarcerated or on parole – or be under age 24 and currently in or have aged out of the foster care system as a ward of the state.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 19.7 million children—more than 1 in 4—live without a father in the home. We know that 52% of prisoners are parents, which leads to increased fatherlessness in this country. The effects of fatherlessness on our children today have resulted in devastating statistics. Another indirect consequence of increased incarceration is the foster care and group home system. According to recent data, there are 437,500 children in America’s foster care system who face a disproportionate risk of being incarcerated.

We believe that education and jobs are the best solution to this problem. We dream of a world where everyone is given an equal opportunity to education, and our Equity and Opportunity Council is committed to making that dream a reality.

Through the Uplift Scholarship Program, qualified applicants will receive help in bridging the gap between the cost of tuition and the Federal Pell Grant—without taking out additional loans. Uplift Scholarship recipients will meet regularly with an assigned mentor to help guide their success in school, in the beauty and barbering industry, and in life.

To help identify good candidates for the Uplift Scholarship, we are working with several organizations that serve this demographic. I personally met with Tim Shirk, the chairman and cofounder of America’s Kids Belong, and Kristin Allender, executive director of the Tennessee Kids Belong chapter. You can learn more about this wonderful organization at AmericasKidsBelong.org.

The Uplift Scholarship is currently being tested as a pilot program with 10 Paul Mitchell Schools, and two scholarships have been awarded so far. The Scholarship Committee provided all necessary materials to launch the program, and they will meet regularly with the pilot schools to gather data and refine the program. We plan to launch this program to all Paul Mitchell Schools on or before January 2021. Once tested and refined, our plans are to share the ideas and template of the Uplift Scholarship program with other trade schools so that they, too, can offer scholarship opportunities.

To make a Paul Mitchell School education accessible to everyone, the Enrollment Committee is currently focusing on two key areas related to school enrollment.

  • They’re developing a High School Campaign planning-meeting strategy to help schools identify which areas they are targeting, which areas they are not, and WHY.
  • They’re also developing dialogue that encourages diversity and outreach, and seeks to identify any demographics and key areas that are being overlooked in the recruitment process.

The Compliance Committee completed a review of schools’ policies and procedures, and recommend amendments to several key policies.

  • The Policy on Non-Discrimination has been amended.
  • The Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying, and Discrimination Policy was updated to clearly prohibit discrimination of any kind and to define specific disciplinary actions for violating the school’s policy.
  • The Committee also developed a formal Future Professional and Employee Grievance Procedure and updated the existing Future Professional and Employee Grievance Forms to ensure that all Future Professionals and team members are treated equally.

The Compliance Committee will continue to provide guidance to various committees of the Equity and Opportunity Council, such as the Scholarship Committee and the HR and Employment Committee, to help ensure that all changes are compliant with the regulatory agencies that oversee school operations.

The HR and Employment Committee is working on a survey to help school owners gather data from their staff about the sense of diversity and inclusivity in their school and in working with PMAE and JPMS leadership. Staff participation will be optional, and all data will be confidential.

The HR/Employment Committee is also working on Diversity and Inclusivity Guidelines for schools to consider implementing. These guidelines are related to HR and employment practices. As part of their due diligence, the committee sought counsel from several HR attorneys, who provided their input and professional advice on a draft of the guidelines.

At this time in history, while our country is so divided and people are going out of their way to create an “us versus them” mentality, it is our intention to do the opposite. Our Paul Mitchell Schools have always had a philosophy of “one size fits all” – meaning we ALL share the responsibility of helping everyone feel loved and safe. Our culture has always been about bringing out the best in everyone, changing lives, making a difference, healing the planet, and healing ourselves.

While some companies have gone back to “business as usual” because racial justice and equity are no longer the front-page news, we’re still busy, active, involved, and engaged in this important topic. Stay tuned for even more, because we’re just getting started!

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