Members and Friends of the Institute,
As we sit amid the second quarter, I and the Institute’s Board of Directors are recognizing and experiencing both the incredible tumult the novel coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked upon our industry and the profound impact the Black Lives Matter movement and protests have been upon our membership. The Institute is taking concrete steps to respond to both: the Board of Directors met virtually May 20, 2020 with an agenda focused on helping our fellow members and strengthening our members, our communities and our industry.
Both powerful forces have demanded that we think about and execute programs differently. The sweeping challenge of the health pandemic has impacted many of our members and non-member colleagues directly through layoffs, furloughs and corporate bankruptcies, and thus the Board has voted to suspend membership dues for all current members and to waive membership application fees and dues for new members of any category through May 31, 2021. All members who were dues current as of March 15, 2020 have been granted a membership extension to May 31, 2021 and if you visit the Institute’s website, you will notice the pop-up graphic inviting prospective members to come aboard! Please reach out through your networks and welcome our community (including lapsed members) to consider joining the Institute.
Engaging with our communities also means recognizing that as an Institute we have not done enough to eliminate unspoken bias and racism within our industry. The association has not yet made a public statement through our social media channels supporting Black Lives Matter; this is not due to a reluctance to stand up but rather a strong belief that we need to demonstrate substantial change to ensure authenticity. The Institute is approaching this as both a change in our Charter to recognize and eliminate intolerance throughout the Institute as well as to bring substantive positive change via informative, educational and actionable discussions for our membership. A cross-Chapter team will very shortly provide more information regarding our effort. At that time, the Institute will issue a statement itemizing our actions.
The Board continues to recognize the need for change, and has also voted to approve changes to the Institute’s governing By-laws with regard to multiple topics including gender diversity, digital job-types and retail interactivity. We want our membership to reflect what retail design is today, and thus have also updated the categorization of our membership types. We encourage you to reach out to your Chapter leadership regarding such and understand if your job role now qualifies for a different categorization. We have also provided new guidelines for the usage of the RDI appellation and we encourage all members to proudly display their affiliation with RDI in their professional titles.
Wishing you and your chosen families good health,
Ray Ehscheid, RDI, IIDA
Retail Design Institute