Meet Sam, one woman transforming business as usual ✨

 

Happy Friday beautiful people!

Today, I bring to you the final newsletter of the summer as I will be taking a few weeks off after this issue. I am particularly excited to bring you a guest piece from another badass ABL reader and entrepreneur, Sam Harmon!

 
 

She is the co-founder of qb, a purpose-driven consulting firm bridging the gap between sustainability, diversity and inclusion. (qb stands for queen bee and is inspired by the beehive, btw. Naturally I asked her if she meant nature or Beyoncé! )

I had the pleasure of meeting Sam in person back in April. She reached out via LinkedIn to let me know she'd be in Durham for the week, and I quickly set up a time for us to grab lunch. It didn't take long for me to become one of her biggest fans.

She's brave and passionate and is making a huge impact through her work. I know she will inspire you as much as she inspires me!

️❤️,

Nikita

P.S. While I'm taking my summer break from the newsletter, I encourage you to follow and engage with us on Instagram: instagram.com/abovethebottomline. We are creating some content there, if I may say so myself!


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Sam Harmon co-founded qb. consulting (@consult_qb), an ESG consultancy powered by a diverse collective of impact strategists and communications experts. Founded on the premise that diversity, equity and inclusion are good for business, Sam and Noemí Jiménez, her co-founder, are committed to working with clients holistically, providing a safe space for talent to shine, and donating 1% of profits to the International Rescue Committee.

I spent most of my formative years questioning the status quo.

Growing up white cis-gendered and privileged in the Southern Baptist burbs of Dallas, this often took the form of: Do I really need to wear this purity ring?; Why are more people concerned with my femininity than my happiness?; and What if there really is more to life than the conservative Texas I know?

 
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While I didn’t have the language or life experience to interpret what I now understand as structural inequities, I did have the confidence to doubt the absoluteness of my current reality—and enough to say no, at times.

At 12 years old, I knew it was preposterous for the church to assume it could call the shots for my body and life. I avoided virginity pledge ceremonies like the plague while my closest friends showed off their “true love waits” rings. Turns out the church was not acting alone.

 
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Between 1996 and 2010, abstinence-only education received more than $1.5 billion in federal funding. Now, for the first time since 2008, abstinence-only programs are on the rise, receiving $85 million in FY 2016. That’s a $30 million increase from the year prior, a terrifying data point to consider as Alabama, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Georgia, Utah, Arkansas, and Missouri roll back abortion rights.

MY SOCIAL IMPACT JOURNEY
Attending college out of state brought more questions: Why was business’ sole purpose to drive profit? and Why did society devalue people, communities, and natural resources around the world just to produce more stuff?

I was endlessly curious about new business models and ways of thinking about existing systems. Reading books like “The Power of Unreasonable People” was empowering. I learned about entrepreneurs who challenged the current system.

Despite graduating into the worst financial recession of my generation, I was buoyed by optimism, convinced the world was changing for good. I packed my bags and headed to Los Angeles eager to join Toms Shoes, a for-profit company that was operating more like a social movement.

I was living my dream.

 
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MY ENTREPRENEURSHIP JOURNEY

Fast forward 10 years, I now run qb. consulting with my friend and former colleague, Noemí Jiménez.

In just two years, we’ve found ourselves redesigning internal communication tools with a diversity and inclusion lens for S&P Global, building a comprehensive sales reporting dashboard for Soko’s international management team (timeless, ethically made jewelry), helping Experian transition from a corporate philanthropy impact model to a business-driven sustainability approach, and designing and implementing Remake’s Ambassador program. I wake up excited everyday to work with people who are challenging business as usual - they are the true unsung heroes in this work.

 
 

When Nikita asked me to guest post for ABL, she proposed I tell the story of why I decided to launch a consulting firm, and why now.

There are many reasons why I am able to do this - financially, emotionally, socially, and systemically. Though, what I found myself continually coming back to was: my confidence to question and disrupt the status quo.

When I unpacked that further, I realized my confidence was not innate. It had been tended by curious, empathetic people over time. My parents, athletic coaches, teachers, and mentors gave me permission to question the system and be in charge of my own learning. They built my confidence and to them, I am forever grateful.

Now here is the kicker: Confidence is the magic mix needed for transforming business as usual and solving our greatest social and environmental challenges.

Brittany Packnett, a woman far wiser than me (and host of my favorite podcast), explains why:

Confidence is one of the main things missing from the equation...[It] is the necessary spark before everything that follows. Confidence is the difference between being inspired and actually getting started, between trying and doing until it’s done...[Yet], finding confidence is not a solo sport. It requires permission, community, and curiosity, and it’s something we can and must spark in each other.”

 
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Packnett goes on to say that when we have a world that isn’t “intimidated by confidence when it shows up as a woman or in black skin or in anything other than our preferred archetypes of leadership”, we can unlock a future where justice is real and inequity is outdated. Knowing that confidence is the missing piece and that it shouldn't be exclusionary or privileged reminds me of the need to uplift others in everyday moments.

As managers, as leaders, as colleagues, as clients, and even as consultants, we have the opportunity to help others grow their confidence seeding future changemakers. Who’s confidence are you building and does it reflect the diversity of voices we need to change our world?

 
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You can watch Brittany Packnett’s full TedTalk here.


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Tip Your Delivery Worker In Cash, Not Via An App. DoorDash has recently come under fire due to their policy on subsidizing driver pay. Their drivers have a guaranteed minimum payment they receive on each order, however, if the customer tips on the app, that tip will go towards their minimum instead of in addition to. Many people have begun to call for only tipping your delivery drivers via cash, in order to allow them the maximum pay they deserve. // QUARTZ
 

You’re Missing Out By Not Hiring Autistic Workers. Here’s How To Ensure That They Thrive At Work. People with autism are unemployed at disproportionate levels and are overlooked even though they are talented and capable workers. This article discusses why this happens, mostly due to autism being poorly understood, how autism actually presents, and gives strategies to employers on how to better accommodate employees on the autism spectrum. // FAST COMPANY


LVMH Signs Stella McCartney As Sustainable FashionFocus Surges. Stella McCartney, a luxury designer and fashion brand that is known as pioneering the sustainable luxury fashion movement has joined forces with the fashion powerhouse LVMH in an effort to expand the brand. This comes as luxury fashion begins to accept sustainability more. // FORTUNE
 

Most Of The Google Walkout Organizers Have Left The Company. In November of last year, many Google employees planned a walkout against their company's policies and handling of sexual harassment within the workplace. However, now 4 out of the original 7 workers who planned the walk out have left the company, citing retaliation within the company against them for their participation in planning the walkout. The latest to leave is Meredith Whittaker, who also believes she was retaliated against for her work in AI ethics as well. // WIRED


‘It’s A Career Ender’: 2 LGBTQ Former Dell Workers Share Their Stories. This article features two former Dell workers, the first being Helen Harris, a gender non-conforming woman who experienced instructors telling her be more “likable” to be able to do her job, and had a tough time moving up the company due a lengthy training period while her colleagues were promoted. Second, there is Cicillia Gilbert a transgender woman who was let go in the middle of her transition because it was “impeding her ability to travel”. The article goes into detail, and interviews them on their experiences and opinions on how the company treated them. // NPR
 

Hackers Can Hijack Your Mac WebCam With Zoom. Here’s How To Prevent It. Zoom, which is a video conferencing company, has recently been found to have a vulnerability in the software that allows someone to turn on a MacBook camera and force the computer into a Zoom call without your permission. The company has known of the vulnerability since March of 2019 and has been unable to resolve it. The security researcher who found the vulnerability recommends people disable Zoom’s ability to turn on your webcam by default when you join a meeting and only do it manually. // VOX
 

Amazon Is Spending $700 Million Retraining Workers, But Critics Say It Wants Applause For Addressing A Problem It Created. Amazon is reportedly spending $700M in an effort to train and improve the skills of 100,000 of their U.S. workers. Amazon claims this is due to them looking to the future with consideration to automation, however many are criticizing them for this because they already require their employees to work incredibly fast in unsafe conditions, and could be spending this time and money on more immediate problems. // MARKET WATCH

You’re Already Being Watched By Facial Recognition Tech. This Map Shows Where.A non-profit that is fighting for digital rights, Fight for the Future, has recently created a map of the physical footprint of where facial recognition is being used by police departments and other places like airports. Only 3 cities have banned the use of facial recognition technology, and Oakland, California is the most recent. // FAST COMPANY
 

McDonald’s CEO Makes An Hour What The Average Makes A Year. McDonald’s has held a long reputation for paying its workers low wages, but recently the SEC released the salary of McDonald’s CEO Stephen Easterbrook, and it was found that in 2018 he made 2,124 times what the median employee salary was for the same year. This translates to Easterbrook making in an hour what an average employee makes in a year. // USA TODAY
 

Equifax Agrees To Pay Data Breach Victims Up To $20,000 For Their Troubles. In 2017, Equifax had announced a huge data breach that exposed the personal data of 147 million people. They have recently announced a proposed deal in the settlement that would involve allowing victims of the breach to be able to claim their damages of up to 10 years of free credit monitoring services for adults, and 18 years for those who where juveniles in 2017. They can also opt out and choose a payment of $125 instead. Those who incurred document breach related expenses will be eligible for up to $20,000 in compensation as well. // GIZMODO 
 

Workers In Spain’s Strawberry Fields Speak Out On Abuse. This article describes the experiences of the women working on a strawberry farm in Almonte, Spain. The women interviewed in the article recount experiences of sexual assault by their bosses, and describe the fear they live in while awaiting trial now that they are speaking up about it. // NY TIMES

Norway Wants H&M To Explain What’s So Sustainable About Its “Sustainable” Clothes. As sustainability becomes a buzz word in the fashion industry, Norway is taking the time to be sure that brands that advertise sustainability in their country actually follow through. The country’s Marketing Control Act outlines practices like this and makes it illegal to mislead consumers. Because of this, Norway is trying to get H&M to give them more information about their “Conscious Collection”, which is described as “Sustainable fashion pieces”, while the only information given on the website is that they are made from organic cotton. // QUARTZ


This week's headlines were curated by ABL's intern, Lora.


 
Nikita T. Mitchell