A Year of September
A year ago, we came together with one idea in mind - to do good work for good people. Bonded by our shared work experiences and love for storytelling, we knew that our collective skills and insights could be of service. But not just for anyone - we set out to work with purpose-driven clients who have an explicit commitment to always do the right thing. Not just right by personal interests but right by the community, right by the earth, right by the law, right by each other, and right when no one is watching.
As we face an unprecedented global health crisis with no clear end in sight, emerging voices are shaping a new archetype of leadership. Consistent with the brand’s ethos, Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario committed to paying employees even as stores shuttered. Warehouse operations are slowly coming back to life, protected by progressive safety policies like staggered operations to avoid crowding, on-site fever monitoring, and the truly pioneering “squad scheduling,” that keeps the same employees on the same shifts to both limit and trace contact. These actions reiterate Patagonia’s values and priorities: Human lives first. Backpacks later.
In true form, having taken bold measures to protect citizens from gun violence in the past, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern once again took swift and decisive action that prioritized her citizens’ well-being over the economy. Shutting down incoming flights and containing visitors in designated government facilities, her response was dubbed “a master class in crisis leadership” by Business Insider. Ardern showed up for the public in the most humanly and accessible manner possible via video calls and a first-of-its-kind for a head of state, an unrehearsed live Facebook Q&A. Her grounded, compassionate, science-driven approach rallied the community and helped curb the spread of COVID-19 in New Zealand, allowing for the country to reopen safely and sooner than most.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's press briefings demonstrated the power of clear and transparent communications. Cuomo’s daily conferences offered sobering speech peppered with humility and heart, sorely missing from national leadership throughout the pandemic. His consistent and informed dialogue with reporters imbued listeners with the sense of safety, hope and trust that we look for from publicly elected officials. His candor, bold in its vulnerability, reflected what most of us needed to hear during this global health crisis:
“My mother is not expendable, your mother is not expendable and our brothers and sisters are not expendable, and we’re not going to accept the premise that human life is disposable, and we’re not going to put a dollar figure on human life. The first order of business is to save lives, period. Whatever it costs.”
In an article for The Atlantic, Ed Yong notes, “The measures that most successfully contain the virus—testing people, tracing any contacts they might have infected, isolating them from others—all depend on ‘how engaged and invested the population is,’ says Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins. ‘If you have all the resources in the world and an antagonistic relationship with the people, you’ll fail.’”
The formula for success then depends on trusted leadership that inspires collective and cooperative action by the people. In other words, a people united. South Korea, once considered a hot spot for the virus, is now lauded as a leader in virus containment. In an interview with BBC, Foreign Minister Kang, Kyung-wha laid out South Korea’s strategy ,“[T]he basic principle is openness, transparency and fully keeping the public informed. And I think this is paying off. We have very good health care system to begin with. We have a system that is highly wired as you can imagine. And fully utilizing that, we have dealt with this outbreak from the very beginning with full transparency and that’s the way we’ve won the public trust and support for this.”
We are at our best when political leaders understand they are fellow citizens, when CEOs recognize they are fellow employees, when citizens recognize they are kindreds.
During this momentous time, we applaud our clients' continued leadership in leveraging their resources for the greater good - whether producing and donating hand sanitizer in lieu of cosmetics or offering complimentary resources and services to marginalized and vulnerable communities. We're honored and grateful to have had the opportunity to work with organizations doing the right thing - in refugee advocacy, political equality, climate change, responsible manufacturing, and women’s leadership.
We look forward to uniting again as we work towards a healthier, more just, and sustainable world.
Working (remotely) together,
Caitlin & MH