This week it seems entirely appropriate and right to break the (random) order of our written values and go straight to this one. Treating everyone individually. This week has seen the glare of the world’s media and the outrage of responsible humans focus on the United States.
We at Purple Monster have worked in the United States for the last 16 years and some of our most lasting business relationships and friendships have come from the wonderful experiences and people that we have met and worked with there. It is a magnificent country with extraordinary landscapes and climate and we are fortunate to have seen so much of the country and met so many of its impressive and meritorious individuals.
We respect diversity and difference
Of course, on some occasions we have worked with people whose ideologies and political stances we entirely disagreed with. It’s inconceivable that we would not have worked with people who stood across the political divide from us and there is still a deep-rooted belief that the second amendment is sacrosanct. We may not agree but we respect their right to hold that opinion…
Fortunately, in those 16 years we have not encountered a company or organisation that we have thought to be overtly biased, prejudiced or racist. However we are also fortunate, through working with two US organisations, IBIS and Consciously Unbiased, to have learnt that bias, prejudice and racism, every day, affects Black people, People of Colour, Latinx and Hispanic people, Indigenous people, Jews, Muslims and anyone who is deemed to be different.
And that is fundamentally the issue. What is different? Different from what? The norm? What is that? This is why we treat diversity and difference as a precious commodity. However, our work on Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald’s book Blindspot proves that whether we like to think of ourselves as right-minded thinking individuals or not, we still have unconscious biases. Treating everyone individually means there is no agenda. We do our conscious and increasingly unconscious best to treat every individual with respect, with equity and with no bias. But most of us at PM are viewing the world from a very privileged position and we must constantly guard against that privilege affecting our instinctive views and judgements.
We operate with a level status
At Purple Monster there is, what we call, a ‘flat structure’. Everyone has the same input as everyone else. Some of us are the business owners and have more direct financial responsibility but everyone in our organisation has a strong equal voice and that voice will always be listened to.
We worked a lot on status, in our early years, because it was a key tenet of our customer service training. So we know what it looks and feels like when someone with so-called, high ‘social status’ behaves in a way that betrays a low personal status (see unelected official’s behaviour during the latest health crisis). And equally we all know individuals in our organisations who may not be at the top of the tree but always behave impeccably and with consistent decency. Operating with a level status means treating people with dignity and respect. We will always aspire to do that. We are also very mindful of the fact that there is still a great deal of work to be done in organisations to unpick the gender, race and religious inequities that have existed for so long.
We believe in support, nurturing and trust
Who wouldn’t? Well, toxic environments and places with nasty cultures clearly don’t. Trust, like reputation can be hard won and easily lost. We mentioned last week a company we worked with who searched their employees on leaving and entering their place of work. Unsurprisingly employee engagement wasn’t high. We worked somewhere else where staff were not trusted with new handheld devices because, ’they would be on facebook all day’.
At Purple Monster we have been on a journey of discovery around fairness, equity and equality throughout the last 25 years but we are hopeful that that all of our colleagues who have proof read this, believe and agree that we try to support, nurture and certainly trust them in carrying out their duties both as monsters but also as humans.
So in a week where we have seen the All Lives Matter trope seeking to drown out the fact that Black Lives Matter, we would respectfully point you towards Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald’s seminal book Blindspot and please take an IAT to contribute to Harvard University’s Project Implicit. We are pleased to also point you to the work of our colleagues from IBIS and Consciously Unbiased and leave you with a quote from CU’s website, which we endorse wholeheartedly, and hope with all of our hearts that all those who have lost their lives because of racial injustice will not have done so in vain.
This is a moment in history where we can all be part of the change. We’re grateful to you, our community, for helping us stand together to demand equality for all.
You can find the rest of our values here.