DENVER — After working two years as an instructor for Kindness Yoga, Davidia Turner is left with mixed feelings.
"Among other teachers there were support from some, not so much from others. I would say with my students I had developed pretty strong, good relationships and I would say with management it’s always been tenuous", Turner said.
She says the relationship with the yoga studio’s management became sour after several attempts to hire a third-party company to train management on inclusivity and diversity.
"And when I approached them on those issues it felt dismissive and there was definitely a lack of care," she said.
Kindness Yoga opened nearly 20 years ago and grew to have several studios and 150 instructors across Denver, all while using a pay-what-you-can model along with other payment options.
Owner Patrick Harrington told Denver7 rapid growth of the company played against them and their focus on their staff.
"We just lost touch with so many of our instructors. From 75 to 150 teachers. Cameron and I, my wife, living down in Costa Rica, we just got disconnected," he told Denver7.
When Harrington moved back to Colorado to once again take control of the company he built, work began to build an HR department, which was something that wasn’t in place for employees before.
"I always joked that kindness was our HR department, but looking back that may have been true (for) five locations and there were probably areas where people didn’t seem seen and heard at that time that I was unaware of, quite frankly, caught up in being so busy all the time."
But Turner said nothing changed which led her to publicly resign over social media. Others would soon follow.
"There were still a lack of diversity on their board of members and stressed that there needed to be people of color, specifically black and brown people in the room helping them make decisions that were supportive of the broader community."
The owner hoped to come to a resolution. He said it wasn’t his intention to create a what Turner calls a non-inclusive and careless environment.
Speaking to BusinessDen, Harrington said the backlash over the social media posts from former instructors, which resulted in hundreds of people canceling their memberships, coupled with the coronavirus pandemic and the unsuitability of the pay-what-you-can model, forced him to take the decision to ceasae operations at all locations.
“I am so proud of our organization, our teachers, our students and what these last 20 years have meant to me,” Harrington told BusinessDen. “I’m honored to have been in the position of holding space for yoga teachers and yoga students, and for the people who we made a difference for, there’s no need to justify or defend anything."