Smile Makers’ Statement On Black Lives Matter

What We Do And How We Can Do More For Racial Inclusion And Equality

What happened on May 25 in Minneapolis was murder and a tragedy. What is an even bigger tragedy is that it was not an unusual occurrence, but part of the daily injustices and dangers to black lives in America and elsewhere. Whether it be police brutality (cases like Breonna Taylor, Natasha McKenna, Eric Garner, Michelle Cusseaux), civilians killing black people without prosecution (Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery to name only two), or racist actions that put black people’s lives in danger (such as Christian Cooper in Central Park on the very same day as George Floyd died), it is clear that there is systemic injustice, discrimination, and risk for black lives. That matters and that must change.

As a business, the mobilisation that has occurred within communities across the globe, highlighting the overwhelming message of solidarity against racism, has inspired us to self-reflect at what we can do more and better to be an agent of positive change. While we have identified a few areas we can immediately strengthen (highlighted further below), this work must be a conscious, on-going process.

We have tried to understand how racism exists beyond these violent events, as a system in itself, and what concrete legislation could force the necessary change that has so far not happened. It is clear to us that there are specific defence laws that have allowed crimes to go unpunished, ‘justifiable homicide’ and ‘stand your ground’ being two examples. It is also clear that there are barriers to removing law enforcement officers who commit racist acts or crimes. We hope such laws and barriers are swiftly re-examined.

But changing legislation alone will not remove racism in society. Most of us in our company are global nomads, and we know that the best way to feel equal kinship to all humans is to always be around diversity, be it other ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, etc. After hundreds of years of colonialism, suppression, and unequal opportunity, too many still live in privileged homogeneous bubbles, threatened by anything that is not like them. The underlying challenge is to create a more equal society; and the most basic foundation for that is equal opportunity.

We believe access to tax-funded education and health care will go far in creating more equal opportunity for the next generation as it will allow families in poorer neighborhoods to send their kids to college. More immediately, as progress towards equal representations of diversity in senior positions such as executive management, boards, ministerial posts, etc. is happening far too slowly, we support legislation forcing diversity of representation until that happens more naturally.

All these policy and legislative changes can make an impact, but it will still not be enough. We need to look at ourselves as individuals and the organizations or companies which we represent.

At Smile Makers, we as a company still have a bit to go. The founders have currently hired 6 full-time employees - 2 are Singaporean, 1 is Indonesian, 1 is French, 1 Taiwanese, and 1 Mauritian. Past employees have included a Moroccan, a Filipina, a Chinese, and a Tunisian to name a few. As individuals, many of us have racially mixed marriages, relationships, and children. With the restrictions of a low headcount and where we are located, our mix is not perfect, but it’s in the right direction. We hope the job applications we receive going forward have even greater diversity so we can continue to improve.

At our core, we believe we are an inclusive company that values and needs diversity. This flows through our hiring practices, how we pay, who we promote, who we represent, and how we communicate. As external partners, we are working with black writers, voice artists, sound technicians, product development specialists, and sex therapists, paying them the exact rate as any other expert we work with. We do not believe we have ever rejected a candidate for employment, partnership, collaboration, or promotion based on race or ethnicity at any point in our 8 year history.

Tying this back to what we can best do to support Black Lives Matter as a sexual wellness brand based in Singapore, we have reflected on how our expertise could be best leveraged going forward. Here are only a few examples of actions we can take on an ongoing basis:
• Making our communication about female sexuality more inclusive and better educated on the intersectionality between sex and race. Examples include highlighting the role of Black people in the fight for sexual rights, working on a curated list of black sex therapists for members of our community who are looking for recommendations, and including resources and podcasts from black sexual health experts as part of our ongoing communication.
• Supporting sexual health initiatives for minorities, including the black community. As a sexual wellness brand, we support NGOs and charities specialised in sexual and female health around the world (so far in South-East Asia and Europe), and we continue on an ongoing basis to look for organisations promoting reproductive health in North America, including among black communities.

We will continue to reflect on what other actions we can take to contribute towards positive change. Until everyone has equal rights and opportunities to live safe, free, healthy, and to maximize their own potential, no one should be proud or complacent. What we have learned from our efforts to normalise the perception of female sexuality is that it’s the day-to-day actions that can have the biggest impact on future-proof changes; following the same logic, this is how we want to better ourselves, and how we work.

Smile Makers’ Statement On Black Lives Matter



What We Do And How We Can Do More For Racial Inclusion And Equality

What happened on May 25 in Minneapolis was murder and a tragedy. What is an even bigger tragedy is that it was not an unusual occurrence, but part of the daily injustices and dangers to black lives in America and elsewhere. Whether it be police brutality (cases like Breonna Taylor, Natasha McKenna, Eric Garner, Michelle Cusseaux), civilians killing black people without prosecution (Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery to name only two), or racist actions that put black people’s lives in danger (such as Christian Cooper in Central Park on the very same day as George Floyd died), it is clear that there is systemic injustice, discrimination, and risk for black lives. That matters and that must change.

As a business, the mobilisation that has occurred within communities across the globe, highlighting the overwhelming message of solidarity against racism, has inspired us to self-reflect at what we can do more and better to be an agent of positive change. While we have identified a few areas we can immediately strengthen (highlighted further below), this work must be a conscious, on-going process.

We have tried to understand how racism exists beyond these violent events, as a system in itself, and what concrete legislation could force the necessary change that has so far not happened. It is clear to us that there are specific defence laws that have allowed crimes to go unpunished, ‘justifiable homicide’ and ‘stand your ground’ being two examples. It is also clear that there are barriers to removing law enforcement officers who commit racist acts or crimes. We hope such laws and barriers are swiftly re-examined.

But changing legislation alone will not remove racism in society. Most of us in our company are global nomads, and we know that the best way to feel equal kinship to all humans is to always be around diversity, be it other ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, etc. After hundreds of years of colonialism, suppression, and unequal opportunity, too many still live in privileged homogeneous bubbles, threatened by anything that is not like them. The underlying challenge is to create a more equal society; and the most basic foundation for that is equal opportunity.

We believe access to tax-funded education and health care will go far in creating more equal opportunity for the next generation as it will allow families in poorer neighborhoods to send their kids to college. More immediately, as progress towards equal representations of diversity in senior positions such as executive management, boards, ministerial posts, etc. is happening far too slowly, we support legislation forcing diversity of representation until that happens more naturally.

All these policy and legislative changes can make an impact, but it will still not be enough. We need to look at ourselves as individuals and the organizations or companies which we represent.

At Smile Makers, we as a company still have a bit to go. The founders have currently hired 6 full-time employees - 2 are Singaporean, 1 is Indonesian, 1 is French, 1 Taiwanese, and 1 Mauritian. Past employees have included a Moroccan, a Filipina, a Chinese, and a Tunisian to name a few. As individuals, many of us have racially mixed marriages, relationships, and children. With the restrictions of a low headcount and where we are located, our mix is not perfect, but it’s in the right direction. We hope the job applications we receive going forward have even greater diversity so we can continue to improve.

At our core, we believe we are an inclusive company that values and needs diversity. This flows through our hiring practices, how we pay, who we promote, who we represent, and how we communicate. As external partners, we are working with black writers, voice artists, sound technicians, product development specialists, and sex therapists, paying them the exact rate as any other expert we work with. We do not believe we have ever rejected a candidate for employment, partnership, collaboration, or promotion based on race or ethnicity at any point in our 8 year history.

Tying this back to what we can best do to support Black Lives Matter as a sexual wellness brand based in Singapore, we have reflected on how our expertise could be best leveraged going forward. Here are only a few examples of actions we can take on an ongoing basis:
• Making our communication about female sexuality more inclusive and better educated on the intersectionality between sex and race. Examples include highlighting the role of Black people in the fight for sexual rights, working on a curated list of black sex therapists for members of our community who are looking for recommendations, and including resources and podcasts from black sexual health experts as part of our ongoing communication.
• Supporting sexual health initiatives for minorities, including the black community. As a sexual wellness brand, we support NGOs and charities specialised in sexual and female health around the world (so far in South-East Asia and Europe), and we continue on an ongoing basis to look for organisations promoting reproductive health in North America, including among black communities.

We will continue to reflect on what other actions we can take to contribute towards positive change. Until everyone has equal rights and opportunities to live safe, free, healthy, and to maximize their own potential, no one should be proud or complacent. What we have learned from our efforts to normalise the perception of female sexuality is that it’s the day-to-day actions that can have the biggest impact on future-proof changes; following the same logic, this is how we want to better ourselves, and how we work.