Founder Adam Murray is using his 12 years of experience in Portland, Ore., hospitality and human rights to help others build safer workplaces.
BY KATRINA YENTCH
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Cover image design by Sarah Goldstein
You might not personally know Adam Murray. However, after reading about his stories, approach to leadership, and services on Apron Equity, Adam might sound like someone you’ve known for years—either as the person you’ve worked with behind the bar, or as a friendly face that greeted you during late afternoon visits to other cafés after your own shifts.
Apron Equity is a new organization and call to action that answers one of the biggest questions that has come to light during the Black Lives Matter movement: What can I do? Based in Portland, Ore., Adam Murray is a Black coffee professional who uses over a decade of experience in the hospitality sector to provide equity and inclusion consulting to business owners who want to do better but don’t know where to start.
Adam was also in a transitional phase within the F&B world when COVID-19 hit. He decided to utilize this time at home, along with his experience in hospitality management and human rights, to start Apron Equity. “Having experienced the hospitality landscape as a Black man, I was aware of many of the administrative and cultural challenges that marginalized communities were facing,” Adam explains. “Within these organizations, I was always going to be limited in my ability to bring change, due to employment status creating unequal power dynamics. I had an ability to connect with owners and business leaders, and I wanted to pursue work that gave me full freedom to advocate for safer and more inclusive third spaces and workplaces.” He then started Apron Equity to build healthy relationships between employers and employees.
Within Apron Equity’s blanket of inclusion and equity counseling, Adam provides training, support, and cultural assessments for small businesses in hospitality, with an emphasis on the small business aspect. He recognizes the limited resources that these companies have for outside services, and in turn provides affordable services where it would otherwise be out of the question or budget.
Adam isn’t here to point fingers, though. “We provide active listening, allowing you to voice thoughts, concerns, and goals,” Apron Equity explains. “We unpack events, both within your organization and in the community you serve. This work can be emotionally taxing … but in listening without judgment we will find mutual trust.” In order to do this, Adam gives clients a cultural evaluation through an anonymous survey for their employees that asks questions about the work environment. This results in an Inclusion Grade that Adam further details through an in-depth report for the client. “I’ve found that the survey process itself is a meaningful step in building trust in employees, simply because it says their opinions and experiences are valid, and their employers want to know how they feel,” Adam says. This survey is followed by regular meetings that deconstruct heavy concepts within leadership, self-awareness, and decision-making. All work is done confidentially and with equal trust.
Adam’s project has already been met with overwhelming support by the Portland community, and he is currently partnered with several local businesses. At the start of Apron Equity this past June, Adam and his team of community activists, recruitment professionals, and tech and design professionals also worked together to offer free resumé consulting for BIPOC individuals and the LGBTQIA2S+ community. In a time where jobs are even more scarce, this service is ongoing, and is meant to help others through mentorship and support during every step of the process.
If you are a business that is interested in consulting, or an individual who needs job search assistance, you can reach out privately to Adam on his website.