I want to catch you up on ABLE and where we are in the midst of this pandemic.
None of us are unaffected, and that has been true for us here at ABLE as well. You've asked us about our approach to surviving this challenge - about our employees, about layoffs, and about our plan to protect the vulnerable.
I'm writing this letter to answer those questions, but not from a "woe is us" perspective, because we know times are hard for everyone. The purpose of this note is to update you, and if you have followed ABLE at all, you know our greatest value is genuine transparency… so, here we go.
We have not been immune to the millions of layoffs happening around the world. Here’s what we’re doing about it at ABLE:
- We are furloughing people, not letting people go. This means we’re committed to paying their health insurance and having a job ready for them on the other side of all this, but they can still collect unemployment.
- We are maintaining our commitment to paying a living wage. As you know, we pioneered publishing our lowest wages (not average wages or a labor cost per garment), because that is the number that protects the people at the bottom of the wage ladder. During this process of furloughing employees, we’ve been diligent in ensuring no employee falls below the equivalent of our lowest wage ($14/hour, which is above a living wage in Nashville), whether that be through their pay from us or through unemployment benefits.
- We are setting up a fund for employees to help manage any challenges they face because of the COVID-19 crisis.
- The team is creating detailed budgets and strategies for getting our team members back, working with great diligence to recover once the effects of the pandemic have slowed.
This crisis has given us challenges that we never imagined (lots of tears and sadness, too). But it’s also given me a look into the steadfastness of the culture that we have fought so hard to build here at ABLE.
A favorite quote of mine from MLK is: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Well, I give you the ABLE staff (95% of whom are actually women).
As our employees began to see the impact of COVID-19 in our sales reports, inquiry after inquiry came from staff in all departments: How can we help? What can we do to protect our most vulnerable colleagues? What do you need from us to help ABLE move forward? This has been a beautiful side effect of a trying time.
The culture here and our focus on caring for our people has led to everyone doing what they can to pay it forward to their fellow employees. Our commitment to our values remains the same, whether it's to transparency as we publish our lowest wages, our benefits, or our belief that every employee should be an owner in the company.
We are not a company with a mission, we are a mission with a company– a mission to be truly transparent, and to put employee care and customer connection first. That is the culture we fight for at ABLE– the current theme through our google hangouts is "let’s do everything we can now, so we can get our friends back here more quickly."
In my previous note, we talked about wanting to add value for you, our community, while we continue to move the business forward. So, this week, we’re having our warehouse sale online, since we couldn’t have our normal warehouse sale in March at our Nashville headquarters. We’re calling it our “Family First” sale, not the typical “Friends and Family” sale, because we’re all feeling pretty "family-ish" right now. It starts on Wednesday and features products up to 75% off.
From Nashville, to you, to our partners around the world– stay safe, family.
PS– If you have more specific questions about what we are doing at ABLE to address today’s challenges, or recommendations on how we can do all this better, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. We wanted to start with an update on our Nashville main offices first, and we'll be following up soon with an impact update on our international partners.