There have been a lot of comments about our Space Pride initiative in celebration of #PrideMonth as we wanted as a company to show our support of the LGBTQ+ community. We commissioned an emblem to share in our efforts to make the world, STEM and space a more diverse and inclusive place for everyone. We are deeply sorry that our comments have caused offence and upset. We started this with the best of intentions. We are listening, learning and aiming to understand the issues highlighted and seek to address these as much as we can.
As a relatively new company formed in 2018, we set out to share our joint passion for space. We both share a common vision of humanity's place in space and we strongly believe that should be as diverse and inclusive as possible. It has been our long aim “to inspire a new wave of entrepreneurs and space explorers by unlocking their potential and linking them with new skills to build the future of space.” We strongly believe that innovation is not possible without the influence of people from different backgrounds sharing a range of perspectives not only in expertise but also from their culture, nationality, gender and sexual orientation.
Through Space Pride we tried to show our support regarding LGBTQ+. This was conflated with our support also for equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I). This in turn highlighted the issue of intersectionality including race. We acknowledge there is an inherent white cis-male bias in the space industry and this is something we have always been passionate about changing. We recognise as two white cis-men that we have blind spots when it comes to diversity issues we are very open to hearing and actively learning what these are.
We accept we should have been more explicit about how the Space Pride garments from our new shop were seeking to support the LGBTQ+ community. We have now become aware of the term “pink capitalism” (also called “rainbow capitalism”). Our intentions were for any “profits” to enable us to run free and open events like SpaceUp LIVE, along with helping us promote every kind of diversity. However, we have taken on board the feedback that money from these garments need to go directly to helping LGBTQ+. For now, we have removed the space pride garments from the shop. Moving forward, we are actively trying to further educate ourselves, in order to try and work out the best way we can make a positive impact.
Following our past events and feedback, we already recognised that we can and should improve on the diversity of our events. We have been reflecting on how we can build a more openly diverse and inclusive environment. Since 1st June, we have been working with a final year marketing student on their summer project to analyse the demographics of our past events and ways we can improve. A full press release on this will be released in the coming weeks.
We also wish to understand more the demographics of the wider space sector including work done by others to improve the diversity we seek. Going forward we will be looking at contacting organisations and charities, including the ones working with LGBTQ+ communities, to speak at our events and ask for advice on how we can be an effective ally.
As a new company, we do not yet take any money for ourselves (not even for our time) and that will continue for causes we believe in. As we move forward, we will build clear value and vision statements to better define us and what we stand for including support for such groups. We will continue and strive to make the space sector a more diverse and inclusive place. We might not get it right all the time but we will endeavour to do so and try to learn from our mistakes.
We admit it was hard not to feel upset and frustrated at the comments we saw as we set out very much with the best of intentions. We sincerely apologise for any offence we caused.
We very much hope that in the future, our positive actions going forward will be better aligned with the ED&I causes and that you will, once again, support us. For now, we ask for your understanding and forgiveness in this matter.
Ryan Bradley-Evans and Ryan Laird Directors, R&R Space
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