queen b. thoughts
We created this space to share the conversations we have privately, publicly.
Read, watch, b. inspired.
they’re taking everything away
qb. consultant and journalist Jorge Bello illustates the realities of gentrification in Red Hook.
Heidi Talavera knew her kids would be home in under four minutes if they let her know they had passed 34 Laundromat. Red Hook’s biggest and busiest, the laundromat stood on the same block longer than any of Talavera’s five children has been alive—her eldest is 14. With a full load to get through almost daily, she used to spend at least an hour of her day there. Last month, Talavera and other decades-long customers threw their clothes into one of 34’s 100 plus machines for the last time. The laundromat has closed shop. In a few months, the entire Lorraine Street lot it sits on will be razed. A residential high-rise will go up in its place.
How can your business decide between E, S and G?
qb. Co-Founder Sam Harmon demystifies the materiality assessment process in her latest Greenbiz article.
What do natural disasters, sexual harassment and cybersecurity have in common?
They are all environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. And last year, each one moved markets. Today, investors want companies to proactively demonstrate how ESG concerns are guiding decision-making and business strategy. "Checking the box" with sustainability reporting is no longer enough.
And yet, when it comes to discussing material ESG issues, a vast majority of C-suite executives and board members are still uninterested or dismissive, failing to see how they’re already affecting the bottom line.
So, with (1) a growing tide of ESG risks and opportunities to navigate, (2) internal roadblocks and lack of buy-in for addressing sustainability, and (3) external stakeholders making demands with quick turnarounds, where does a company begin? The answer is not really new or high-tech, but it is a tried and true approach and the perfect place for a company to start its ESG journey — materiality. Applying materiality to sustainability (commonly known as conducting a materiality assessment) helps to uncover the most salient ESG issues to a business and its stakeholders.
In order to demystify this process and equip teams for complex, evolving sustainability conversations, I have broken down the main steps to conduct a holistic materiality assessment. If companies can begin to level-set on ESG and embrace systems thinking, we might just start to see a more sustainable, long-term view of financial planning influence Wall Street.
How Can Retailers Capitalize on the ‘Less Is More’ Mentality?
qb. Co-Founder Noemi Jimenez outlines the 2 things retailers should know in order to capitalize on the Marie Kondo phenomenon in her most recent Sourcing Journal article.
You’re probably lying if you say you haven’t at least considered “Marie-Kondo-ing” your home. But what about your retail operation?
Marie Kondo’s philosophy was an instant hit in the U.S., boosting her network to a cool $8 million. Seemingly obvious, the idea that we have too much “stuff” has been widely adopted across demographic lines. The idea that a simplified lifestyle reduces stress is particularly appealing during a time when anxiety is at an all-time high; millennials were found to be the most anxious generation in a study conducted by the American Psychiatric Association.
While reactions to the “KonMari” method vary from “reduce consumption to the bare minimum to consume responsibly” to “buy only pieces that make you happy,” it’s undeniably tapped into a changing consumer landscape. Thrift shops are overwhelmed by all the donations in reaction to the #doesitsparkjoy phenomenon. The realization that our consumption patterns not only make us less happy but are also contributing to climate change encourages both donating to thrift shops, and investing in previously worn pieces.
I must admit I was affected myself by the KonMari phenomenon. My husband and I tried it with our 14-month-old’s overflowing drawers, my parents tried it after their most recent move, and I’m sure you can think of at least one person in your life who has made a recent effort to live a less stressful life by literally just getting rid of things. Rather than shying away from this messaging, what insights can the retail industry glean from Marie Kondo’s success? Her instant fame proves today’s consumers are hungry for two things:
Everything you need to: be a better ally
Do you want to be a better co-worker, boss, mentor, leader? Do you find yourself staying quiet for fear of saying the “wrong” thing? We will equip you with practical tools to navigate uncomfortable situations at work, and bring out the best in you and those who surround you.
Our Co-Founders, Noemi Jimenez and Sam Harmon, along with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Specialist, Jason Ortiz, and Data Analyst, Ryland Baker will walk you through the ins and out of allyship in today’s corporate landscape, with some time for questions.
Who Cares About Cultural Appropriation?
Noemí Jiménez is a mixed race, able-bodied, LatinX mom (yes, I have privilege) Pronouns: She/Her/Herself
A few years ago, I landed my dream job. I got to work with some of the smartest humans I had ever met, I felt challenged, and I was contributing to interesting projects while supporting awesome clients. I drank the Kool-Aid, and I liked it. I knew the company was far from perfect (late nights, high turnover…you get the picture), but still I felt inspired. I wanted to soak it all up, and I did. I learned a lot in a short time.
A few months shy of my first anniversary, one of the co-founders published an article that opened with:
May a white model wear dreadlocks? Is a white male novelist allowed to tell his story through a black female character? Am I permitted to wear a sombrero and say Olé!?
The answer is a firm no, unless you want the politically correct (PC) trolls on your back. Welcome to the wacky world of cultural appropriation, now trending where PC is spoken.
Let’s dissect that for a moment. (1) The author is asking if he can wear a sombrero and say “Olé”. (2) All three examples are about what “white” people are “permitted” to do. (3) His questions conflate different cultures and ethnicities to oversimplify the “wacky” issue of cultural appropriation. By boiling down the history of the “SOHM-BRAY-ROW”, the author misses the point entirely.
For many Mexicans, the sombrero (now worn almost exclusively as a costume accessory by mariachis) perpetuates the myth of the backward, old-fashioned campesino, a throwback to an earlier century, chattering away in the heavily-accented, high-pitched, rapid-fire rhythms of Speedy Gonzales, the cartoon mouse, in his big yellow sombrero. In the past one more often saw — painted on dinner plates and tourist knick-nacks, embroidered on felt jackets — a caricature of a Mexican peasant dozing off, drunk or just lazy, leaning against a cactus, his face obscured by an enormous sombrero.
Instead of taking the time to write a piece that acknowledges the damage stereotypes can cause, it felt like a casual after thought. It was like the rant you have with your friends over drinks, and then you all have a laugh…annoying PC trolls.
The more I processed the article, the angrier I felt. He was talking about me, a young woman of color on his very own payroll. Yet, part of me still questioned my indignation. Was I overreacting? For a second opinion, I emailed the article to my sister and asked her to read it while I got ready to head out for a work event. When I got back later that night, I had numerous texts and emails from her. She was even more enraged than I was. She wanted me to speak up and have him take it down.
The thought intimidated me. I hadn’t even been with the company for a year and this man, who started and still owned the company, worked on a different continent. Still, my gut told me it was my responsibility to say something. I believed he would even appreciate the gesture, as it could save the company from potential backlash. Plus, I was embarrassed. We were a small team and I didn’t want any clients or prospective clients to see it and assume we all thought that way. This was also the first time I realized I was the only brown face in our office and suddenly it mattered. Seeing this as an opportunity to start a productive dialogue and understand where he was coming from or help answer some of the questions posed in the article (his original article is posted in full at the bottom), I emailed our co-founder:
Would love to chat with you about your blog on cultural appropriation. It’s such a timely topic and the way it’s written is quite provocative, which I’m sure is what you were going for.
I thought a couple of important issues were missed. 1) cultural appropriation can still cause harm even if it’s not for profit. I’m mainly thinking of Halloween — when people dress up as an ethnicity or a race, they are only perpetuating stereotypes, which are negative and damaging to minorities. As a person who grew up in Latin America, I find it hard not to take personal offense to people who dress up as Mexicans by wearing a “sombrero” and a mustache and saying ole (which by the way is a term from Spain) because it reduces a rich heritage and culture to a symbol that has been used to homogenize an incredibly diverse population of individuals. 2) In order to avoid terrible mistakes like the one made by MAC when they released their “tribal” line of makeup or the Snapchat filters fiasco, companies must prioritize diversifying their workforces — it’s crucial.
I am clearly quite passionate about this issue, so would love to hear your thoughts!! Curious if you have received any other responses yet.
Initially, I felt proud to be able to move past my rage and put my thoughts towards a solution and an opportunity to have a productive discussion. Eventually, I felt foolish. I’ll spare you the anticipation and anti-climactic ending: I never heard back.
Recently, I was working on a project for a client to boost employee engagement and remembered my horrible experience processing this article, so I looked it up. Years later, I still find it so poorly written and pointless that I felt the need to share it. Why write about something so emotionally charged for so many if you’re going to half-ass it? People in positions of power have a responsibility to those they manage. There’s no hiding behind a high ranking title or anything else for that matter — someone will call you out sooner or later.
Here’s what I have learned over the years:
If someone tries to engage with you and have a conversation, please listen — with empathy.
Be humble and remain open to learning. That’s the most, and the least each of us can do.
We’re all at different parts of our journey. Don’t compare yours to someone else’s.
In trying to understand what diversity, equity, belonging and inclusion truly mean, remember that what it means for you is not what it means for the person next to you.
No one is an expert. We’re all learning what total inclusion means, and we will make mistakes — it’s inevitable.
This co-founder’s article missed the point of cultural appropriation, and of the root cause of its effects. Not once did he stop to ask, why are people outraged? Why is this news? All the flippant commentary could have been saved, and replaced instead with: huh, that’s interesting. Why did people react that way? What am I missing? While it’s not a person of color’s job to educate others (there is plenty of literature out there), I was willing to have that conversation. His cavalier tone and dismissiveness when I tried to engage in good faith has driven me to write this piece, for validation, for my own catharsis, but also to remind myself and you of the importance of cultural sensitivity and a basic understanding of inclusion and multicultural equity in the corporate space.
This is an evolving conversation, and I am passionate about it (whether we agree or not) so please reach out if you’d like to learn more about my work helping companies make their work culture more welcoming to women and people of color or simply share your experience or thoughts on cultural appropriation. I’m a great listener.
I’ll leave you with the last line of his article: “I’m off to find a safe space to wear my sombrero.”
Thanks for reading,
May a white model wear dreadlocks? Is a white male novelist allowed to tell his story through a black female character? Am I permitted to wear a sombrero and say Olé!?
The answer is a firm no, unless you want the politically correct (PC) trolls on your back. Welcome to the wacky world of cultural appropriation, now trending where PC is spoken.
At first glance it all seems so ridiculous. East Anglia university students union bans sombreros for mocking Mexicans. Designer Marc Jacobs creates outrage at the New York fashion week by decorating his mainly white models in dreadlocks. Male novelist Chris Cleave riles critics by telling the story in Little Bee from the points of view of two women, one black and the other white.
Those who rage about these transgressions argue that the “appropriators” are behaving like colonials and misappropriating elements of the dominated culture. Outrageous? Maybe not.
A few years ago Land Rover quickly withdrew a locally-made TV ad in South Africa that showed the bare breasts of a Namibian tribeswoman “pointing” in erect excitement at a passing 4×4. It’s virtually impossible to count the number of issues raised by this ad. But South Africans knew why the makers found it funny and not all viewers were appalled.
US novelist Lionel Shriver intentionally annoyed elements of an Australian literary audience with a speech pointing out the many stupidities in the debate. She did this while wearing a sombrero. Unsurprisingly, she got exactly the reaction she wanted. One mixed-race social activist who stormed out tweeted that Shriver provided an “unfettered celebration of the exploitation of the experiences of others”.
Most cultural appropriation is more subtle. The Rolling Stones appropriated black American music (or should that be African-American?) and made millions from it. Mylie Cyrus made her mark with the twerk appropriated from African dancing. Sports teams call themselves chiefs and redskins, and so on.
Libertarians defend the rights of anyone to say or wear anything. They bewail the new political correctness of the lefty-liberals — mainly millennials — who are quick to censor through attack, bans and ridicule.
This is an especially dangerous space for marketers who are desperate for strong images to flash online for a Snapchat generation which is as quick to ignore as it is swift to judge.
The fashion and cosmetics industry is particularly vulnerable, mainly because those who inhabit this other-worldly place are often gloriously naïve about the real world. Some time ago the editor of the UK edition of GQ magazine was fired after running a feature on the high style of the Nazis. All those tight black leather coats and high boots were so seductive that the editor could not foresee the consequences of his decision.
The creative industries spend their lives borrowing and enhancing other people’s ideas. This sampling is part of the creative process and integral to innovation. But when does borrowing become appropriation? For me, it is when borrowing becomes stealing for financial gain. The appropriation debate is really about economic dominance and exploitation.
For example, you often see the Massai tribe of Kenya depicted in ads. Their bright colours, pogo dancing, legendary bravery and regal elegance provides striking visuals and an emotional backdrop for everything from cars to make-up.
Is this borrowing or stealing? If the car company pays the tribe well for using its imagery, then, for me, this is simply commerce and the tribe is capitalising on its intellectual property. But if the tribe’s style is simply taken, then it becomes appropriation (stealing) and should be condemned.
Cultural appropriators are invariably the economic dominators. Anyone interested in a fairer society should be seeking a better balance between the haves and have nots.
But where does that leave us with the cultural sleights of everyday life? Should non-Mexican students be banned from wearing sombreros? Should it be a faux pas to don dreadlocks for a fancy dress party? How worried should we be about others trying to edit our lives?
Maybe we should just chill. The current outrage about cultural appropriation is probably part of our evolution to becoming a fairer society. After all, performers don’t black-up anymore. And nobody writes illustrated children’s stories with gollywogs.
Relax, yes, but we should also protect our right to expression even if we cause a little offense in the process. Cultural appropriation has unfortunately got caught up in the current liberal-left censorship crusade with its micro-aggressions, safe spaces and no-platforming.
I’m off to find a safe space to wear my sombrero.
Originally published: 10.28.16
What to Say When Making The Case for ESG
Your investor relations and legal teams are getting pressed for it. Your talent expects it. And, your customers want YOU to solve the most urgent problems facing our world. An environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy (often referred to as a sustainability strategy) is no longer a ‘nice to have’. It is a strategic necessity. With the pressure to talk the talk and walk the walk higher than ever before, here are four reasons (if you still need them) to develop an ESG strategy:
Company Values Can Make or Break Your Talent Pipeline
You are only as competitive as the people you retain and keeping people is getting more difficult. Recently, seventy-five percent of HR professionals, in the U.K. and U.S., reported an average employee turnover rate of up to 30 percent (Speakap). But, there is hope. According to Deloitte, diversity, work culture, flexibility, and pay are your talent’s (especially millennials and Gen Z) top priorities. These social issues are also foundational to any holistic ESG strategy. Prioritizing mentorship and upskilling, inclusive onboarding, equitable compensation, and diversity of senior leadership and boards will enhance your employee lifetime value. Corporate philanthropy or CSR, a well-known “S”, also contributes to retention. When employees donate and volunteer through their work, the turnover rate is 10 percent below average. Boom.
Your Clients and Customers Care A LOT
While adopting energy, water, or waste management systems is nice and is an ESG practice, it is marginal. Your customers, millennials most of all, are looking for way more than operational efficiencies that boost your bottom line. They want you to tackle those monster problems weighing on society (so think rampant inequities, limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and radical transparency in your value chains) AND feel like decent humans when spending their money with you. This means innovative products that eliminate waste and don’t induce guilt at the point of disposal; inclusive services and communications that speak to everyone; and transparent labeling that is clear, simple and honest. These expectations are not just regulated to B2C, either. An increasing number of companies are adding ESG stipulations to their contracts, vendor agreements, and due diligence processes. If you are expecting to work with Patagonia anytime soon, I’d go ahead and get started on that B Corp assessment. How will you move from one-off practices to transformative change to meet your customers' expectations?
It is ALL financial now
Gone are the days of ‘non-financial risks’ to classify ESG issues. ESG investment now accounts for 1 in every 4 dollars invested, strengthening the business case for corporate sustainability (Ceres). Investors now expect companies to proactively integrate these same ESG criteria into key business practices and investment decisions. We know there is a slew of ESG issues, and depending on your industry, some may be of less interest (and less impactful). But, investors need you to know which ones matter. A recent study by Harvard Business Review found companies with high ESG ratings on financially material ESG issues outperform those with low ratings on the same issues (HBR). So, you better get cranking on that materiality assessment.
Moves by several groups like the Financial Stability Board, in creating the TCFD, showcase the impact climate-related issues have on the balance sheet, income statement, and cost of capital and it’s not good. For example, albeit scoring above the industry average by Sustainalytics (an ESG scorer and data provider), PG&E is now facing almost $30 billion in liabilities from wildfires. You don’t want this to be you. Sustainalytics’ old rating system ignored an important material factor, that now rates PG&E dead last (Flat World)! The point of this is to demonstrate the importance of identifying your company’s material ESG issues, disclosing them to all stakeholders (even investors), AND developing a plan to mitigate the risk associated with these issues.
At the end of the day, investors, lenders, and even consumers don’t want to give their money to those who aren’t accounting for all possible risks in today’s climate. Don’t miss out on a valuable business opportunity just because it seemed too hard or complex.
You will be left behind
There is no turning back. The ESG mindset of your employees, customers, and investors will only expand and become more prominent in everyday business decisions. Will you be a forward-looking company that leverages your ESG strategy to drive new market opportunities and foster innovative products and services? Or, will you lag behind industry peers maintaining a short-term perspective on the needs of the market and our society? Your business practices, from procurement to corporate development, have the power to create change. Join the historic movement changing the world with what we buy, use, and dispose of.
Your ESG strategy will deliver growth for your company. Now is an incredible opportunity to make a big difference. How will you get started?
Diversity Reporting Checklist
As members of D&I teams or task forces, you are agents of change. Your organization has invested in D&I to help shift culture – to promote, recruit, and retain people of minority status. The purpose of your first report is to showcase and amplify these efforts, strengthen relationships with internal and external stakeholders, and ultimately gain buy-in for enhanced performance.
You are developing a branded asset aligned with your organization’s values, messaging, look and feel—capturing who you are today. Your first report will be a reference for employees, current and future, customers, and investors and a milestone in your Diversity Journey.
Let’s take the plunge!
taking the plunge: Your First D&I Report
Are you publishing your first D&I report? The process may seem daunting, but we can help you take it step by step so you know what to expect and how to be prepared for what's coming your way. Our Co-Founder, Noemí Jiménez and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Specialist, Jason Ortiz walk you through the ins and out of reporting, while fielding questions live. [Webinar starts at minute 8:30]
Hindsight is 20/20
Watching H&M’s messy faux pas and subsequent retraction of the monkey ad, Heineken’s light beer mishap, Dove and Nivea’s beauty product blunders, we can’t help but wonder why brands keep missing the mark when it comes to advertising.
Today, the representation of identity through marketing is closely scrutinized and heavily covered by a wide range of influencers. Every instance of brand expression risks being ripped to shreds before its authors have a chance to understand why.
The most common fix after suffering through a PR blunder seems to be the the addition of a new position: the Chief Diversity Officer. While a smart measure that can positively affect recruiting and retention, one person cannot change the culture of an organization alone — and certainly not foresee all of the potential reactions brand messaging will have.
The realization that biases are not standard across groups and our identities are complex and intersectional, is a relatively new concept for mainstream America. While I may catch something in one ad campaign that you missed, I am far less likely to see my own biases, hence #unconsciousbias.
What does this mean for marketing teams? At qb., we understand no one wants to be stifled by an additional step of vetting or approvals. Designers and advertisers need freedom in order to stimulate creativity and innovation. Having worked on both sides of the table, our approach to flag the seemingly innocuous subtleties that can turn into PR disasters overnight is to embed ourselves on your team and work closely with creatives to ensure these potential snafus are caught early in the process. We act as a “sensitive” and vocal party, representing the myriad of identities present in consumer and stakeholder groups who will call out potential interpretations based on interdisciplinary training, multicultural exposure and academic understanding of minority and underrepresented groups. Our methodology works to identify possible problems before they even get to the drawing board and to provide the final seal of approval based on key stakeholders for your particular business, as well as the overall industry and influencer communities.
If this sounds like something your team might be interested in learning more about, please contact us. We would love to start a conversation.
My year of #nonewclothes
You don’t have to be perfect to start having a real impact.
In 2016, I realized that for someone who has the privilege to purchase ‘sustainably’ and has been talking about the impacts of fast fashion, environmental degradation and overconsumption for the better part of 10 years, I hadn’t made any radical shifts in my own buying habits. Determined to change that I made 2017 my year of #nonewclothes. Here’s what I learned along the way.
There will be break-ups
Now don’t get me wrong, there were some memorable break-ups even before my year of #nonewclothes. At 23, I banned Victoria’s Secret 5 for $25 panties…baby steps. At 25, I made a concerted effort to relinquish myself from Forever21, a poster child for fast fashion (in-full transparency, my all time favorite swimsuit is from F21. I bought it two years after the ‘break-up’ and right before a trip). Mostly, I made slight tweaks like these throughout the years, gradually shifting my fashion dollars from the likes of Old Navy, Gap, H&M and Zara to what I thought, at the time, were more conscious retailers, Madewell, Everlane and Anthropologie (I’ll need another whole post to talk about why they are not).
My efforts to have a greater social and environmental impact with my purchases, up until now, had been mild at best. My desire for new, fresh, and quick always seemed to outmuscle my deep knowledge of the immense water pollution caused by garment manufacturing, the Rana Plaza catastrophe where 1,100 people died as a direct result of our quest for cheap clothes and the industry’s rampant unsafe and unethical labor practices. Simmering in my own angst and inspired by Ayesha Barenblat, the founder of Remake, who I heard speak at MCON earlier that year on cultivating a conscious consumer movement, I knew 2017 would be my year of #nonewclothes.
Take a good look inside your closet
Beyond buying #nonewclothes, I also wanted to:
Better understand my desire for new, fresh looks. (i.e. What drove my desire to buy? When did my urge to buy new clothes most often pop up? What was I most drawn to buying?)
Build patience back into my quest for fashion
Get to know my closet again
I was turning 30 that year and when I looked in my closet I only saw remnants of years past, going out tops from nights now way beyond my bedtime, a smattering of bright patterned anything, and mounds of high-waisted pants staring back at me. Ready to rediscover my fashion voice, impact and style, I dove in.
Set the ground rules
First things first. Every good challenge needs boundaries, so I defined what #nonewclothes meant to me: (1) no new apparel, jewelry or shoes (second hand and consignment were open for business); (2) if I did give in and purchase a new item (because I am not a perfect creature) I was to note why I bought the item, when I bought it and from whom; (3) gifts definitely didn’t count. You can’t control what other people buy you. However, if someone is looking to gift you an item, sustainable gifting is highly encouraged.
Next, it was time to say goodbye. I was never going to make it through the year receiving weekly emails with constant sales promotions from Madewell, Refinery29, ModCloth, and TopShop. Unsubscribing was a must.
Finally, resist. For me the first half of the year was the hardest. Post-new year mega markdown ads were trolling me, I had four weddings in five months and I “just needed” that new summer look, right?! Plus, January through March was usually when I bought most of my clothes for the year. My year of not purchasing any new clothes wasn’t perfect, but it was impactful.
Naturally, I had setbacks throughout the year. Three runs into 2017 and my knees demanded a new pair of running shoes, so I bought a pair of Nikes. After working with Soko, an amazing ethical jewelry brand, I couldn’t help but nab two new pieces from them and a pair of earrings from one of their partners before my work wrapped in May.
In early August, I just gave in. With no time to search for second hand items or swap with my sister (she lives 2–3 business shipping days away and played a key role in me making it through my #nonewclothes year), I did a quick search on Amazon and with one click bought a $20 swimsuit that would arrive the next day. In that moment, while I knew I had “technically” failed my challenge, I also learned something about myself as a consumer. My excitement for traveling was a very strong driver for shopping — it was as if traveling somewhere new validated purchasing something new.
After August, I stuck to my guns minus one last misstep. It was December and I was entering Outdoor Voices for the first time under the guise of shopping for my sister’s Christmas present. Caught up in the fun of trying on matching OV Kits with a friend, I spaced out and bought a pair of track pants. It wasn’t until I got home while showing off my new digs to my boyfriend that I realized, “Oh yeah, I wasn’t supposed to buy this…remember #nonewclothes Sam?!”
Harness the power of patience and reflection
Going a year without buying new clothes, or trying my best not to, wasn’t only about resisting and noting my lapses. It was also about discovering alternatives:
TheRealReal, a luxury consignment retailer, is my new favorite place to browse and lock down classics (e.g. leather jackets, dresses for weddings, and work attire).
Clothing swaps are now a yearly staple at my school and amongst my friends.
I have a long list of impact-conscious (or socially and environmentally conscious) brands I’m excited to explore in 2018.
By giving myself the time and space to rediscover my closet, I learned what still worked, which clothes I wanted to keep but needed repair, which items were better off with someone else, and which key classics were still missing.
A year might not be the right time frame for you, but if you made it to the end of this article, I challenge you to try #nonewclothes. Whether it’s a year, a season, or a month, use the time to rediscover your closet, your drivers for buying and gift yourself the space to develop your own unique purpose for purchasing. And remember, there’s great power and impact in the choices we make with our wallet.
If you want to hear more about my year of #nonewclothes or chat about more impactful options in fashion, you can email me at email@example.com, follow me on Twitter @harmonsamantha or @consult_qb.
What. A. Year.
In 2017 we elected our first openly trans public officials. The first woman (and woman of color) became Mayor of New Orleans. The first Muslim actor won an Oscar. Disney aired its first show about a boy’s coming out story. The #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movements swept the country, galvanizing millions. The first South Asian and first black woman hosted SNL (we couldn’t believe that one either).
This year has been one of rising tensions, harmful division, and big wins for diversity champions. We still have a long way to go to make our society more equitable and inclusive, but it’s worth taking a moment to celebrate some important victories — particularly after a year like this.
Nine months ago in a coffee shop in San Francisco, we set out to:
1. Start a consulting firm owned and run by women, and hire talent that reflects the beautiful diversity of our country.
Being the only woman in the room, the only person of color, or both was no longer acceptable to us. While it seems the entire nation is waking up to latent issues of race, gender, power and identity (that were no less real last year), the divide is still growing as people find their platforms and become more angry and violent towards the “other” side. This type of dialogue is ineffective and troubling. Our work aims to offer everyone a seat at the table, even if (and especially when) we don’t agree with each other. Prioritizing the inclusion of diverse voices is critical for a truly productive debate.
2. Disrupt traditional corporate responsibility consulting by providing flexibility and the best possible experience to the experts we hire, our clients, and ourselves.
We built our business on the bet that we weren’t the only professionals looking for an alternative to what’s become standard in consulting today (not enough pay and long hours). We were right. Our vision has resonated with experts and clients alike this year, drumming up excitement for what’s to come.
3. Follow a no assholes policy.
While not an official policy of ours, from the start we knew we wanted to build relationships with smart, driven change-makers who are also reasonable, pleasant, inspiring humans. We have been fortunate to encounter clients who support and believe in our vision, and who live the values we hold dearest in their every day lives. The energy we put out was met with a humbling reception, allowing us to collaborate with incredible partners. For that, we are so grateful.
What’s next for qb.?
In 2018 we will be ramping up our sustainability reporting and diversity and inclusion trainings and working to grow our network of experts to include an even broader mix of talent.
While these are trying times, we are so proud to be contributing our voice, your voice to Corporate America to help shape future policies around sustainability, equity, diversity, and inclusion. A special thanks to our clients, who not only keep our doors open, but allow us to follow through on our promise of donating 1% of our profits to the International Rescue Committee.
If you are interested in learning more about our work, please reach out. We would love to start a conversation.
-Noemí + Sam