October 9, 2018

We vow to live by a higher standard

At Speak Your Silence, we’ve always lived by a high standard. But, today we’re making it a public promise as one of the very first Charter Members of WeVow.

But, first, the back story.

About 3 years ago, I had an idea – to create a new, higher standard of doing business. A way for organizations to elevate how business is done.

I envisioned a symbol on the front door of businesses and organizations, symbolizing their commitment to live by the highest standard, preventing sexual misconduct and having the backs of their employees.

The symbol would indicate the organization’s public promise to their employees that they could come to work each day feeling safe; to job-seekers, demonstrating that this organization is a top workplace that cares about its people; and to customers and clients, that they had the option to bring business to only those organizations who are taking care of their people and setting a higher standard for business in general.

Additionally, it could help protect organizations and leaders, demonstrating that they’ve taken active steps to hedge against this problem.

I loved the idea. But it didn’t fit with Speak Your Silence. There was some overlap, of course, but it was very different and beyond the scope of SYS’ mission. So, I sat on it, not sure what to do with it.

Then, last fall, every high-profile individual in Hollywood was suddenly a headline. The #MeToo Movement was in full force.

But, during that period, I recognized two important things:

1) While every individual’s experience was obviously very personal to them, the vast majority of the stories I heard were workplace-related. I didn’t see any known solution, besides the standard check-the-box policies and procedures that have been around forever. And, those apparently hadn’t solved the problem.

2) While I was so glad for every single person who was finally able to share their personal story, there was a tremendous amount of anger driving the movement. And, while on a personal note, I can understand having anger (after all, I unknowingly carried anger for a number of years against my offender), I believe it’s so important to have focus on moving forward, on personal healing, and on creating a better future. I didn’t see a lot of focus on this, and I believe forward-focus is one of the primary needed ingredients if we’re to make things better in the future.

In February, I was in San Diego meeting with our creative agency, BLVR, chatting through 2018 plans for SYS and our upcoming promotional VW bus plan (which is working superbly, by the way!). I shared with them a bit about my idea for workplaces. I told them I saw opportunity to change how business is done, creating a new, higher standard. Something forward-focused that could afford employees of organizations large and small to feel safe, to be effective in life and work, and to change how things are done.

Immediately, the team at BLVR lit up and started talking through the possibilities of how this could change how business is done. This simple idea could elevate business and distinguish those organizations and leaders who have taken this very deliberate step to make a public promise to live by this higher standard… from those who have not.

It’s a deliberate choice.

And, those organizations who do make this public promise… stand to attract top talent (and more women) because they are safe to work for. They care about their people, they have taken an intentional step to prevent sexual misconduct in their workplace, they take appropriate action if/when it happens, and they provide resources for their employees who experience it.

After spending a week heavily thinking and praying through the potential for this concept, seeking advice, and chatting through it with SYS’ Board of Directors, it became clear that this was a concept all its own and needed to be built out as a totally separate entity from SYS. But, also, SYS could benefit from it.

So, I founded a new company, called WeVow, and formed a strategic partnership with BLVR to build and grow it. WeVow’s mission is to elevate how business is done, equipping organizations to build a culture of safety, trust, and zero tolerance for sexual misconduct.

As SYS is growing and now has two additional employees on payroll, it’s important to me that I lead them in specific regard to this arena, so that they know exactly where SYS stands and that they feel safe and supported every day when they come to work (or are out at an event with our VW bus). And if they ever experienced something in their past, or experience something in the future, they have resources.

To ensure this, SYS is now one of the very first Charter Members of WeVow* (*note – I’m personally donating the membership to SYS).

As a WeVow Charter Member, we are publicly promising to live by a higher standard, building a culture of safety, trust, and zero tolerance for sexual misconduct in our workplace. We’ve taken the following vows:

Vow 1: BUILD a culture of safety, trust, and zero tolerance for sexual misconduct.

Vow 2: EMPOWER your employees with resources on sexual misconduct and the tools they need to report any incidents and get the help they need.

Vow 3: LISTEN and take appropriate action to remedy incidents that occur in the workplace, and to prevent them in the future.

What WeVow Charter Membership means for SYS:

1) The WeVow Charter Member seal is now on the footer of our website, in our window at the office, and is in our employee handbook, as a demonstration of our vow.

2) All SYS employees will now have access to 5 free counseling sessions per year for any incident of sexual misconduct they may have experienced at any time in their life (at no cost to SYS).

3) Our employees now have their own WeVow Employee Accounts online for learning how to define what they may have experienced, filing an incident report, and confidentially accessing their counseling resource.

4) In coming months, we’ll also begin adding online training videos for employees, which we’ll also use to train each future employee.

I believe in being very deliberate with how I live my life and how I lead SYS. I see this as a very intentional step for SYS to take so our team (and future employees) know exactly where we stand on this; you, our supporter/customer/partner, know how we operate and the standard we live by; and SYS, as an organization, is protected, as we’ve taken this step to hedge against potential misconduct in the future.

SYS has always been forward-focused. And, now I look forward to SYS helping raise the bar for how business is done.

You can learn more about SYS’ vow as a WeVow Charter Member at wevow.com.