The Episode team has been actively working on new ways to better serve the diverse community we’re so fortunate to have. We deeply appreciate the feedback raised from our community on issues related to story featuring, art assets, our Community standards, and more.
We’d love to highlight some of the changes you’ve already seen, and some that are currently in progress below. Our hope is that these changes will serve as the foundation for additional actions in the future.
Updated Episode Art assets:
- New facial features and hairstyles to help portray diverse characters, along with new guidelines to help our team consistently create accurate styles in the future.
- More curl type 3 and 4 and natural hairstyles.
- Modest and fashionable clothing options.
- Moving forward, our goal is that more diverse, representative, and/or inclusive items be included in every batch of new assets created.
Internal Actions to Improve Representation in Episode:
- When it comes to stories we’d like to purchase and feature on Episode, we’ve added additional steps to our process to help us find more stories from BIPOC creators.
- Regular featuring and lifting up of diverse voices on our weekly themed shelves.
- Internal commitment on upcoming stories not to change main characters’ default appearances to preserve what the author intended; updated standards for the illustrative representation of these characters on story covers to more accurately capture their features.
- Conducted a full review of our internal hiring process, expanded our outreach strategies and further structured our interview processes with the goal of increasing the representation in our staffing. This is an ongoing effort and is a long term commitment at the Episode and Pocket Gems company level.
Additional Episode community support:
- Rolled out updated Community Guidelines to make what is unacceptable or inappropriate behavior in the Episode community clear, along with creating a dedicated method of reporting Community issues.
- Streamlined and updated our reporting system. Reports related to bullying, harassment, or hate speech now go into a dedicated queue and into the hands of specially trained employees for investigation and responses as appropriate.
Additional Updates from Episode’s Parent Company, Pocket Gems:
- Pocket Gems initially set a goal of matching employee donations up to $25,000, and subsequently raised the goal to $50,000. Our employees and company ended up contributing over $100,000 in donations to charities fighting racial injustice, which included: Know Your Rights Camp; Public Advocates; Equal Justice Initiative; NAACP Legal Defense Fund; and Black & Pink
- Pocket Gems is engaging in company-wide diversity and inclusion initiatives, including education and working practices. We do this recognizing there is no ‘one size fits all’ definition of diversity. We are focused on increasing representation of Black and Indigenous groups across the company. We are also aiming to increase representation in specific functions where currently underrepresented including: Latinx, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian, LGBTQ+, women and non-binary, and individuals with disabilities. We are doing this through an extensive review of our hiring processes, identifying ways to support growth to leadership for all groups above and other underrepresented groups, and creating ways to measure and demonstrate inclusive practices day to day.
We are striving to create a more inclusive space for all creators, readers, and employees. We’re grateful for your feedback, patience and support.
– The Episode Team