A MESSAGE ON POLITICAL DONATIONS AND COMBATING RACIAL INJUSTICE
From Mike Jaeger, CEO
Dennis Cakebread, Co-Owner and Board Chair
Bruce Cakebread, Co-Owner and Board Member
A number of questions have been raised within our company and in social media regarding the disclosure of contributions to the Trump campaign by founders Jack and Dolores Cakebread, who retired from active involvement in the company more than 15 years ago. We understand these individual contributions may seem insensitive or suggest that the company supports a political point of view, which we do not.
As the owners of 99% of Cakebread Cellars, we (Dennis Cakebread and Bruce Cakebread), along with CEO Mike Jaeger, who leads winery operations today, believe it is important to address the situation personally.
To be clear, Cakebread Cellars as a company does not contribute to political campaigns and does not support political candidates. Company contributions do support local causes in the Napa Valley and help promote the wine industry. Donations made by individuals do not represent all Cakebread family members – and they have no relation to the Cakebread Cellars winery operations, our incredible team members, or our enduring core values.
Companies’ actions tell the story of who they are and what they stand for. Cakebread Cellars supports Black Lives Matter. Our challenge going forward is identifying the steps we can take, and are taking, to meaningfully promote diversity and racial equality within our company, our industry, and our community.
We want you to know about the work we have already started at the company, which we are approaching with a sense of urgency:
1) We engaged every employee in a series of listening sessions that have led us to a three-part plan of action:
- Investigating our own winery culture to be sure we have the right training, recruiting, and hospitality practices that strongly support a culture of diversity and inclusion.
- Taking a hard look at our community initiatives to bring forward a more formal and transparent charitable giving and service program that prioritizes historically underserved communities.
- Changing our commercial practices, with an emphasis on marketing and vendor relations to better reflect the diverse communities in wine, food, and hospitality.
2) We are bringing in fresh thinking from the outside and have hired an external partner, CircleUp Education, with deep expertise in accelerating best practices in diversity and inclusion in companies like ours. They will report directly to Mike.
3) We have named a Diversity & Inclusion Council led by employees and members of the third-generation Cakebread family, also reporting to the CEO, to inform, critique, and promote our work to combat racism and promote diversity.
4) In small-group discussions, our employees suggested 30 specific initiatives they felt we should consider implementing. These range from the very specific (such as greater participation of Black food purveyors and creating internships in Historically Black Colleges and Universities) to the more long-term (specific diversity hiring plans, ways to hold each employee accountable). All will be given fair consideration and we will choose the activities that are both genuine to our company and can have broad impact.
5) Finally, and most important of all, our CEO, with the family’s support, is taking personal ownership for these initiatives and will be responsible for their success. This is not a marketing, HR, or PR “campaign”. It is an unfettered commitment of the entire company and the family. Cakebread Cellars’ top executive is best positioned to see it through.
This situation offers many lessons that we hope to use to become a better company and culture. We want to thank you for staying engaged with us and apologize for any suggestion or impression that the company supports political campaigns. You can stay informed on our work and progress at cakebread.com/about/community. We welcome your thoughts at email@example.com.
Co-Owner, Board Chair
Co-Owner, Board Member