Soeuraya Wilson, a high-profile SoulCycle instructor since 2014 who appeared in promotions, quit in an Instagram post, saying her image was being used by a company that “performs it’s activism when it is convenient for their bottom line.” Wilson declined to comment for this story.
Four SoulCycle instructors told Business Insider that Black team members were pressured by the company to host a fundraising event, for which they were not paid extra, for civil-rights causes during the unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s killing.
Wilson and two dozen other instructors rode during the event on June 11 and 12, raising money for the NAACP, Black Lives Matter, and the Okra Project.
SoulCycle responded to Wilson’s post in a statement: “There is no place for racism, bigotry, inequality or discrimination at SoulCycle.” It added that fundraising participants volunteered and were compensated.
Now former SoulCycle executive Jordan Kafenbaum is suing the fitness brand, alleging the company fired her for taking parental leave while claiming the action was a result of COVID-19.
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SoulCycle’s poster-child instructor quit in an Instagram post on July 15, saying she could no longer allow the company to “use” her image to perform its activism when it’s beneficial to its bottom line.
Soeuraya Wilson’s public resignation seemed to come out of the blue. Wilson, a SoulCycle instructor since 2014, appeared in several of the company’s promotions, including its recent big push for in-home-bike sales after studios across the country were forced to shut down because of COVID-19, employees were furloughed, and staff pay was cut.
SoulCycle is known for its cultlike following centered around its influential instructors, many of whom have massive social-media followings. Multiple SoulCycle instructors and riders commended Wilson for her Instagram post. Wilson, who has more than 12,000 Instagram followers, declined to comment for this story.
“In these times I can no longer allow my image to be used by a company that performs it’s activism when it is convenient for their bottom line or their seasonal campaign,” Wilson wrote in her post. “I can no longer allow my body to be used by a company that ultimately stands alongside it’s investors and individuals who continue to support racism and bigotry without true compassion for the health and wellness of the employees and riders.”
Business Insider talked to four other SoulCycle instructors, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing their jobs. They said Black instructors were pressured to put on a fundraiser, for which they have not been paid beyond their reduced wage.
It’s not clear whether the fundraiser contributed to Wilson’s decision to resign.
But instructors said the way the company handled the fundraiser brought up issues around whether the company’s corporate actions back up its diverse marketing. SoulCycle, a brand known for supporting humanitarian causes such as Pride, previously faced widespread backlash when the chairman of the Related Cos., whose principals own majority stakes in SoulCycle and the fitness-club chain Equinox, held a major fundraiser for President Donald Trump.
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Source:: Business Insider