Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.
Lockdown is – sort of – over and you’re ready to start spending money again. We’ve seen high street shops close, cafes struggle to stay open – and the worst-hit are those run by diverse and minority backgrounds. Now’s the time to start focusing on where your money really goes – and support independents and your local community.
Why support diverse-owned businesses and those with ethical trading standards? First, business owners from minority and under-represented backgrounds (older people, disabled people, LGBTQ+, BAME) typically struggle to get the same financial and mentorship support when starting their company. So, supporting their enterprises helps to keep them in business. Second, they’re more commonly the independent businesses in your local community (rather than multi-nationals on your high street) – so you’re supporting your neighbours and community by buying from them.
Larger organisations can operate with diversity and ethical practice in mind, too. Banks get a bad reputation (often for good reason) for not supporting female, minority, or LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs as much as they do other demographics. However, some do make strides to support these communities, so opt to use their services if you want to bank ethically.
Consider Barclays for your banking needs. Within the company, they have ‘five global pillars of focus’ – and one of them is the LGBTQ+ community. Since 2014, Barclays have sponsored London Pride, and they were the first banking organisation to depict a same-sex couple in their advertisements.
They also created an employee resource group called Spectrum Allies to provide support and education on LGBTQ+ issues, ensuring a safe and respectful work environment.
Alternatively, consider the Co-Op Bank. An ethical bank for over 25 years, they run schemes that support local communities, the homeless, domestic abuse charities, Manchester Pride, and ensure fair trade with suppliers across the globe.
Choosing where you shop can make all the difference in your neighbourhood and wider community. Instead of opting for multi-nationals, seek out independent businesses operated by diverse owners to help them succeed.
Try Sancho’s. Founded by Kalkidan Legesse, an ethical fashion campaigner, Sancho’s provides an alternative to buying on the high street. It aims to encourage its customers to avoid fast fashion. They sell a range of gorgeous clothes, for men and women, as well as jewellery, homeware – and they always have a sale on! You can also subscribe to their weekly newsletter, which includes tips on how to live and shop more consciously – and discounts!
Consider, too, Deaf Identity. A fashion label created in 2019 by a Deaf designer, it offers both fashion for D/deaf people AND ways for hearing people to show support for the community. The Sign Alphabet T-Shirts, for example, are as instructive as they are reminders that D/deaf people are a part of our community.
Choose Rebirth Garments. One of the most body-positive, eclectic clothing brands out there! Their clothes are gender non-conforming and made to fit a huge range of body types. This includes clothes for those with a physical disability and with hearing impairments – they have installed mini windows in front of the lips on their COVID-19 masks to allow for lip reading! Their founder, Sky Cubacub, is a nonbinary queer and disabled Filipinx human. The brand states that they ‘challenges mainstream beauty standards that are sizeist, ableist, and conform to the gender binary’.
French-Senegalese founder of Thés Lac Rose, Dalla Niakhaté, ethically sources and manufactures tea. The company sells a multitude of different flavours and fragrances. So, occasionally, swap your builders for a herbal and enjoy the sensations!
Artists, authors, designers, theatre companies: there are so many ways to encourage and support arts by those from diverse and under-represented backgrounds!
Graeae Theatre Company actively put D/deaf, disabled and minority groups front and centre in their productions. They’re not operating right now – because theatres are in dire straits due to the pandemic – but you can still support them. They have a book for sale about their history, and you can also watch a behind-the-scenes documentary about their first National Theatre production on Amazon Prime for free!
Look at the Scotland’s Artists Creative Arts Gallery. Sam Taylor founded the business when he was 63, with his wife Jo. It’s an online portfolio of artwork from a huge variety of Scottish artists. They have prints created using an array of materials, cards, and original pastel and oil paintings. The artwork is beautiful, and to support and spread the word about the business helps them to promote all the artistic talent displayed on their website.
Choose the UK Black Writers Forum. This forum acts as a brilliantly informative resource that champions Black publishers and bookshops. It helpfully outlines them geographically, making it super easy to find places near you to support and shop from. The company claims they were ‘created to fill in the void in the African Caribbean literary scene here in the UK’. Sign up for the newsletter to head the latest news about publications, book talks, and new shops.
Avila Diana is a company created by black law student Avila Chidume in 2018. The company produces greeting cards for any occasion, depicting a diverse array of under-represented communities in their designs. Avila also designs mugs, bags, and other accessories. There’s also a whole section of cards surrounding the topic of mental health, with slogans such as ‘I’m Here for You’ and ‘Keep Growing’.
Money’s tight for a lot of us right now. But there are ways to support diverse businesses without even spending any money! Showing your support on social media, by signing up to email newsletters, or attend events to educate yourself and others.
Black Owned London on Instagram describe themselves as ‘a guide to Black London: people, businesses and places of Black excellence in the capital’ – businesses they’ve promoted include cafe and restaurant owners, photographers, interior designers, and haircare. No matter what you need, this Instagram profile can help. For those who want to be allies, educating themselves via social media is a great place to start.
If you can’t afford to buy books from diverse authors, borrow them! Authors get a small royalty fee for every time their book is borrowed from a library. The same goes for eBooks, too! Look for free trials on sites like Audible to download and listen to eBooks, then leave positive reviews (if you enjoyed it!) to help the author promote their work.
Scope, a leading disability charity, helps disabled people live independently. You can support them by sharing their news, blog articles, and campaigns. Or, volunteer to raise money for them – or donate your old unwanted items to one of their charity shops!
Family Fund offers grants to those raising a disabled child. Their grants give these families things like a holiday, electronic devices, clothing, kitchen appliances, or days out. They host events, and provide people with the opportunity to tell their own story. It’s a chance for families to get in contact with others going through similar situations.
Another charity to consider supporting is the UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Support Group (UKLGIG), which helps lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people who are seeking asylum in the UK, or who desire to immigrate to the UK with their same-sex partner. UKLGIG focus on the importance of maintaining the dignity of those whom they help,
If you don’t have enough money yourself to donate to charity, try raising some! Host a car boot sale, exercise, or fundraise via Facebook for your birthday. There are so many different ways to successfully fundraise, so no matter what your interest, there’ll be something right for you! Lots of charities need constant support – for example, Age UK is dedicated to providing advice, information and befriending services for the elderly.
Improving diversity awareness and sensitivity in the workplace is something the majority of employers could work on. Claire’s Transgender Talks, founded by transgender woman Claire, deliver talks and host workshops on transgender awareness. She also works with a multitude of other organisations which provides resources to educate people on the Transgender community.
The Diversity Trust offers workshops, sensitivity training, and hiring advice to ensure employers operate an inclusive, diverse, and open workplace. From how to handle employees experiencing domestic violence to ensuring BAME talent gets a fair chance to operate at management and leadership level, their mission is to improve every workplace wherever possible.
Buying from diverse-owned businesses is just one way to make sure your community thrives – even in tough times. Check out how to save – and make – money in ethical and positive ways!