To our Topeca Community
Last month, a social media conversation surfaced among former and current Topeca employees, raising concerns about our culture and whether we are living the values that we have endeavored to achieve since opening. When my wife, Margarita, and I launched Topeca in 2003, we set out to create an inclusive, equitable, and family-focused company. As part of that mission and as CEO of the company, I am eager to be accountable to all of our stakeholders, including our former and current employees, customers, suppliers and partners, and I am committed to making these values core to everything we do as a business.
Since concerns were first voiced online in July, we have embarked on an initiative over the past several weeks to better understand the Topeca culture and our real workplace environment. We’ve learned that there are several areas where we can do better, and we have begun outlining detailed and actionable changes, such as hiring a full-time HR lead and formalizing employee reviews, to drive advantageous outcomes for all of our employees. Your feedback and the conversations that followed, combined with our analysis of internal employee practices, led us to create a comprehensive roadmap for evolving Topeca and enriching our workplace.
- Outreach & Conversation: Our first action was to connect with several current and former employees. We invited them to voluntarily speak with us and share their experiences in an honest, transparent forum. Their stories have been critical in helping me as CEO understand events of the past through the eyes of employees. I’m beyond grateful to everyone who gave feedback, and with a better appreciation for how past decisions and actions could have been perceived as insincere or dismissive, I am addressing our processes immediately. There is no lack of gratitude or respect for every single person who has helped us grow this company over the years.
- Internal Review: Our second action was to conduct a historical review of our employee records, which found strong representation of women across both employees and management. We found that 40% of our workforce has been women and 5 of 8 of our management roles have been held by women. Looking at these numbers provides us with a strong benchmark for how we compare to similar businesses and the working population of Tulsa. Going forward, we will continue to benchmark our hiring and employment practices to ensure that our workforce remains diverse and inclusive.
- Third-Party Review. Beyond our internal review, we also engaged with Ogletree Deakins as outside advisors to come up with an action plan for Topeca that ensures greater representation, more employee engagement, and a more inclusive environment.
From here, our first goal will be to hire a new HR manager by September 1st. With a dedicated and experienced person in this role, we will be better equipped to define and implement the right changes that will enhance our culture, provide staff with more resources, and create the safest and most equitable environment for all employees.
Once a seasoned HR manager has joined our team, our second goal will be to finalize our preliminary 8-Step Action Plan and share it by October 1st. As we continue to review and refine our internal operations, we encourage feedback from our community. To share ideas, recommendations, or experiences with our executive team and our new HR manager, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are eager to get started and want to continue hearing from you—now, and as we embark on this journey to be the best organization we can be. Again, I’m extremely grateful for the bold frankness and willingness of people to put themselves out there to help me see the dynamics in our operating approach that I just missed and never intended. I’m beyond sorry for any frustration that I’ve caused and I’m committed to evolving Topeca.
John Gaberino, Founder