Our 2022 Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion
Welcome to The Spruce Eats. Whatever brought you here, it is important to us that you feel welcome, and that we are providing you with the most accurate and inclusive content possible.
We understand when we write a recipe, we are writing a type of history. With that understanding, it is important to ask ourselves certain questions, like whose history are we telling? And from what perspective?
We believe it is our responsibility to use our platform and our voices to break down barriers and provide a safe, respectful, and reliable space to share what we love: food and the stories that surround it.
With a library of over 20,000 recipes and articles, we have made it a priority to sift through and audit a great deal of it. Our findings during these audits has helped us identify our shortcomings and has given us a clearer picture of how to structure and execute our commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Our core goal is to create a sustainable, ongoing strategy for The Spruce Eats that keeps these priorities front and center.
In summary, over the next year, we are committed to making the following changes on our brand (see below for more detail on each):
- Continue building a more inclusive team
- Eliminate bias and cultural appropriation in our content
- Provide fair and uniform rates for our contractors and salary equity with our full-time staff
- Improve accessibility for the hearing and visually impaired
- Continue cultivating inclusivity in our content
- Build partnerships with small businesses, non-profits, and community-focused organizations
Continue Building a Diverse Team
Our goal at The Spruce Eats is to create a diverse and inclusive team of both full-time staff, contributors, and contractors. We pledge to:
- Put in place a sustainable system to increase diversity in our hiring of full-time staff, food writers, recipe developers, recipe testers, food photographers, and illustrators.
- Actively recruit and interview BIPOC candidates for every open staff or contract role.
- Hire full-time staff and contributors who will bring their unique voices and perspectives to The Spruce Eats.
Eliminate Bias and Cultural Appropriation
We are committed to eliminating cultural bias and appropriation in our content. We pledge to:
- Collaborate with contributors from all over the world and with diverse backgrounds to create authentic cuisine-specific content.
- Present contributors with opportunities beyond their heritage.
- Continually evaluate our library for bias in language and instances of cultural appropriation, including language around race, gender, and the glamorization of colonialism.
Standardize a Fair and Uniform Rate
We are committed to working on reforming our rates to make them not only competitive, but fair and equal. We understand that variable rates can be susceptible to conscious and unconscious bias, and can perpetuate the exploitation of contract workers. As such, we pledge to:
- Pay flat rates across food writing, recipe development, recipe testing, and medical review board (whether per piece or by the hour, depending on the task). Our rate sheet is available upon request.
- Provide a stipend for ingredients.
Improve Accessibility for the Hearing and Visually Impaired
We are committed to creating content that is accessible to everyone and we will update our existing library to meet and surpass ADA standards. We pledge to:
- Begin an internal audit of our library to evaluate the accessibility of our content for the hearing and visually impaired.
- Create projects to make it easier for AI readers to scan and accurately capture image content for the visually impaired.
Improve Inclusivity in Our Content
As part of our commitment to inclusivity in all of our content, we pledge to:
- Devote 20% of new content to covering cuisines and regions underrepresented in our library.
- Ensure spotlight packages take into account a variety of cuisines and perspectives.
- Temper the inherent bias within Search Engine Optimization tools and practices by being mindful and intentional when determining and creating content.
- Continue library cleanup projects to improve cultural accuracy in photography, video, and illustrations.
Build Partnerships and Outreach
We are committed to breaking down the barriers of entry to the food media industry and also to building partnerships with small businesses and community-driven nonprofits. We pledge to:
- Highlight BIPOC and women-owned small food businesses in our content.
- Host roundtables for new writers and developers to discuss The Spruce Eats process, our journeys to food media, and answer questions about how to break into the industry.
- Develop relationships and partnerships with small businesses, nonprofits, and community-driven organizations that align with our goals.
- Continue to spotlight our talented contributors and their work in the community via social channels, weekly newsletters, and their work on the site.
Diversity and Inclusion Commitments from Previous Years
Maybe you came here searching for a birthday cake recipe. Maybe you found us in your quest to understand what bitter melon is, or how to make tamales. Whatever brought you here, it’s important to us that you feel welcome, and that we’re providing you with the most accurate and actionable information possible.
When we write a recipe, we’re writing a type of history. It’s important to ask ourselves certain questions, like whose history are we telling? And from what perspective? For too long, mainstream food websites, including ours, have been written mainly by Western, White people for Western, White people. This is a narrow, misleading perspective.
But it’s worse than that. Food is central to our lives, and how we represent it deeply affects how we see ourselves and each other. Promoting the homogenized, White and Western perspective of food is one of the insidious ways we feed systemic racism. And as we’ve seen, systemic racism hurts people. It is deadly. We refuse to be complicit in a system that is causing harm to specific groups of people based on their race or ethnicity.
The work we are committing to do here is about recognizing the humanity of all people: Black, Indigenous, Asian, everyone. It’s not an erasure of the painful past. We recognize, for example, to this date, colonialism, occupation and expansion write themselves into our entire food system. We are reckoning with where we have been, where we want to go, and who we’re bringing with us.
These changes will accelerate our collective knowledge and empathy and help us understand each other and the world better.
Over the next year, we will focus on these four areas: reviewing our content, building team anti-bias capacity, building a diverse team of contributors, and creating partnerships.
Reviewing our Content
The Spruce Eats can make a difference by changing the way we write about food. We pledge to review and improve the content in our library.
With over 16,000 recipes and 10,000 articles, we have a sizable responsibility to fix insensitivity, inaccuracy, imprecision, and categorization. In September 2020, Dotdash Meredith created an anti-bias review board and began reviewing site content to counter bias. We have reviewed 7595 titles so far. Continuing to work closely with this team, we pledge to review 1200 more by September 2021.
Addressing bias in our content also extends to images. Since January 2021, we have devoted 60% of photo efforts to improve the aesthetic quality and cultural accuracy of imagery on nonwhite/nonwestern recipes in our Thai, Korean, Jamaican, Chinese, Latin American, and Southeast Asian libraries. We will continue this effort with cuisines including Latin American recipes and recipes from the Jewish diaspora.
Building Team Anti-bias Capacity
The Spruce Eats editorial staff commits to self-driven education about racism, inclusion, nonwhite and non-Eurocentric foods and cuisines, by reading, attending talks and panels, and immersive learning.
Building a Diverse Team of Contributors
We commit to finding and interviewing diverse candidates for every posted staff role. We publicize open roles to job boards focused on diverse candidates. When hiring staff editors we base interview questions on competencies to reduce unconscious bias. A member of our Diverse Voices Committee is part of every interview panel for posted staff roles.
We will continue expanding relationships with BIPOC contributors on all of our publishing platforms to write, research, edit, develop recipes, photograph, and create videos. In hiring all of the people who work on our site, we prioritize outreach to diverse applicants.
We are committed to avoiding tokenism by hiring contributors to produce content around many areas of expertise, not limiting diverse contributors to produce content reflecting their specific cultural experience. We also recognize that food culture is constantly evolving and that the pursuit of “authenticity” is another form of tokenism. As we strive to better contextualize our content culturally and accurately, we also know there is no single correct way to prepare any dish.
In 2021, The Spruce Eats will establish a partnership with a non-profit organization to provide meaningful, ongoing support to underserved, marginalized people and communities. We will give updates on this partnership as it evolves.
We expect our goals to continue to evolve and expand and will continue to update them here. We look forward to hearing from our readers and listeners about how we can continue to improve.
Thank you for your readership and the opportunity to make our site even better.
Editors, The Spruce Eats
Our Commitment to Anti-Racism, January 2021
In June, we posted a commitment to fight against systemic racism. We continue to work towards meeting, exceeding, and expanding these goals every day. Our commitment to building a more diverse and inclusive brand extends beyond The Spruce Eats, throughout Dotdash Meredith.
Here’s some of what The Spruce Eats and Dotdash Meredith have been doing since June:
- We committed to at least 15% of our new written and visual site content being created by BIPOC by September 30. We have exceeded this goal and will continue to increase representation and diversity through the stories we tell and who tells them. Since June we have begun working with 10 new contributors, 18 new photographers, and 9 new recipe testers, with a focus on expanding our team to include creators from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds.
- We committed to amplifying and normalizing the work of BIPOC members of the food community on our social media platforms and having at least 20% of our Instagram stories feature BIPOC food professionals by September 30. We have exceeded this goal. We are reviewing our past content and have expanded our editorial guidelines to include social content and outreach practices, focused on preventing bias, tokenism, and appropriation. We will continue to increase representation and engage marginalized communities in a lasting way.
- We committed to reducing bias in our site content and pledged to review content that accounts for 50% of our site traffic, to make sure it appropriately acknowledges and celebrates the cultural origins of recipes and food by November 30. We’ve edited over 1,800 titles, expanded our editorial guidelines to address and prevent bias in assignments, images, and language, and continue to revise or retire articles accordingly.
Permanent roles are where the deepest change occurs in a publisher, and we’re committed to building a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Since May, we ensure that we have at least one BIPOC interviewer in our panels. We have instituted guidelines for reducing unconscious bias during interviews. We post our jobs on diverse job boards and websites and also ensure that we consider BIPOC talent in our process. We commit to creating an environment where staff members of color can build careers, advance and feel supported.
We expect these goals to evolve and expand. We look forward to hearing from our readers and listeners about how we can continue to improve.
Thank you for your readership and the opportunity to make our site even better.
Editors, The Spruce Eats
Our Commitment to Anti-Racism, June 2020
To end racism, we must fight actively against it. Leadership has to come from every source of power and today, especially from businesses. Our website has not done our part editorially or organizationally. We publish the work of so many writers, photographers, and illustrators, but few are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC). There are no Black editors on our staff. This is unacceptable. Addressing these deficiencies is the foundation of our commitment.
Food, at its heart, is a celebration of culture and history. As a food website, we believe that we can make a lasting difference by focusing on the people we work with, who we pay, and what we choose to publish.
Here is our commitment:
- We will actively recruit and promote Black and POC writers, food professionals, and recipe developers to create and test recipes, report stories, create visuals, and edit articles. By September 30, we pledge that at least 15 percent of our new content will be created by BIPOC, excluding existing members of our editorial team.
- We will amplify and normalize the work of Black members of the food community on our social media platforms. By September 30, at least 20 percent of our Instagram stories will feature BIPOC food professionals.
- We will consciously work to reduce unconscious bias within our content. By November 30, we pledge to review content that accounts for 50 percent of our traffic to make sure it appropriately acknowledges and celebrates the cultural origins of the recipes.
- We will post about our work each quarter to update you on our progress.
We hope and plan to get a lot right, but we know we will get some things wrong. We expect these goals to evolve and expand. We look forward to hearing from our readers and listeners about how we can continue to improve.
Thank you for your readership and the opportunity to make our site even better. This is the beginning.
Editors, The Spruce Eats