By James Kwon
By James Kwon
Over the weekend, our nation turned 244 years old. That’s only a handful of generations. In a relatively short time, our country went from a fledgling startup to the most powerful country in the world. While most of us took the weekend to soak in the sun, celebrate freedom, liberty, and justice, our history and our present is wrought with the opposite for some of our brothers and sisters that have different backgrounds, beliefs, or just plain melatonin.
But, we’re a digital marketing agency. Why get involved with these types of politics? First, equality and justice shouldn’t be up for political debate. Second, at Figmints our mission is to see Full potential realized in the Company we’re with, the Clients we serve, and the Community we’re in. This kindles a desire to see a deep and lasting progress for people in all facets, to thrive in business, in life, and in their relationships. As a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), we want to take the important time to speak up for what is happening in Black communities.
It’s been just over a month since the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery tipped the scale to create a world-wide dialogue about race, and inequity. It’s overdue. I’ve spent that last month listening, learning, grieving, and reflecting about what I can do. First, I want to confess, I don’t feel like a good authority for this movement – I believe this is a special time to have a discussion about the Black Community and Black People, and we should be listening to them. I also confess, I come from a family of racists. I remember locking doors in some neighborhoods, and fear associated with who just walked into the room. I’ve always thought of that as ironic as a minority myself. This is the plight of Black America. That’s why the conversation is focused now, and that’s why the spotlight is theirs. If I can at all use my position or my resources to create a platform for growth, I will gladly do so.
Healing starts with confession, acknowledgement, and genuine remorse. I love what Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer who has helped scores of wrongfully condemned prisoners, says about race, reparations, and healing. “People want ‘Truth & Repair,’ or ‘Truth & Justice,’ but they want to skip the ‘Truth.’ It’s the truth part, that’s actually the hard part. When we all have a consciousness to the truth, the repair becomes so much easier.”
If you read any business leadership book, you’ll note that core values are important to set for your team. They help create guiding principles of what your team encourages and tolerates. Some philosophies will tell you that core values exist, they’re not created. At Figmints, we have six core values. Hospitality, Grit, Empathy, Impact, Accountability, and OGR. The first five are pretty self-explanatory, but the last is unique to our company. OGR stands for Own it, Grieve it, Redeem it. We are imperfect people who are bound to make mistakes. Lots of them. When we do, there is a process that we encourage employees to take. Own it – understand that there is fault. We’ve become a generation that has been told that we’re never at fault, and that has caused damage. Grieve it – Stevenson talks about how important this stage is, even in the prison system. There has to be a sense of self reflection, and ownership that shows wrong has been done. Redeem it – you have a responsibility to help fix it in any way that you can. Start a discussion, write a letter to your representatives, keep the conversation going.
At Figmints, there are several things we’re trying to do to champion the movement. We’re trying very hard to remove the stigma around the topic of race by keeping an open dialogue in our company gatherings, and team events. Our leadership team is evermore aware of the gaps in the systems we create to help progress equality, equity, and to provide a flourishing environment, so we challenge each other when those systems break. An area that I’m personally excited to create is a sponsorship program for a new course that we’re developing that helps entrepreneurs get off the ground, and grow fast. I believe that starting a business can help close the equity gap for minorities – especially Black communities – by providing lasting assets, and helping these individuals thrive. If you know someone who would benefit from a sponsorship, please let us know.
What exactly is good company culture? How can you create it, regardless of industry?
My time at Figmints was not spent writing and marketing without purpose.
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