In this series, we're taking a closer look at Fors Marsh Group's (FMG) B Corporation recertification. We'll talk with FMG experts to discuss the specific areas where we achieved our most notable improvements since our first B Impact Assessment, what it means for FMG to be a B Corp, and how our vision aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We hope the effort and progress FMG has made over the past four years will inspire other organizations to pursue B Corp Certification.
We sat down with Rhy Curry, FMG's chief of staff, to discuss the power of leveraging our expertise and influence to contribute to the economic and social well-being of the communities in which we operate. Learn the details about improvements FMG has made since our initial B Impact Assessment in 2017 and her role in furthering FMG's efforts.
The Community Impact Area evaluates the positive impact companies have on the communities in which they operate—covering economic impact, civic engagement, and diversity. Businesses and organizations that are top performers in this impact area build shared and sustainable prosperity for all by embracing diversity and inclusion, community involvement, and policy advocacy.
Q: What is your role at FMG, and how does it contribute to FMG's positive impact on the communities in which FMG operates?
RC: I am FMG's Chief of Staff, which means I look at everything we do as an organization and find ways to make us a better place to work and have a greater impact on our communities. A critical part of this role involves our racial equity work and associated initiatives prioritizing racial equity and inclusiveness in our values, policies, relationships, and business practices.
Earlier this year, FMG published a two-year racial equity strategic plan that outlines eight goals to start to transform our organization into one where equity is embedded in our corporate DNA, including:
- Revisiting our core values to explicitly reflect our focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion;
- Developing equity policies that guide the employee lifespan;
- Ensuring that staff composition (overall and in leadership) is consistent with the racial demographics of the United States;
- Building an inclusive community of belonging;
- Developing client service guidelines that embed an equity lens in all the work we do for our clients;
- Increasing corporate spend on BIPOC-owned companies;
- Developing new client guidelines that provide transparency into which clients we take on and maintain; and
- Measuring progress and success.
Further, as part of this strategic plan, we have recently hired a full-time director of diversity, equity, and inclusion to implement and evolve this plan and the work we do!
Tangentially related to my responsibilities leading FMG's racial equity, I also develop specific approaches to working with various communities. I am Mvskoke (Creek), and it is very important to me that when our researchers work with Indigenous communities, they do so using a framework that is culturally respectful and appropriate. This holistic approach is based on the following tenets:
- Ensuring that our employees understand Indigenous history, specifically as it relates to the complicated relationship between researchers and Indigenous nations;
- Operating with reciprocity with Indigenous nations, where everyone recognizes that we must care for each other, without a transactional endpoint in mind;
- Establishing ongoing relationships with tribal nations that are separate from specific project requirements;
- Designing and utilizing culturally appropriate research methods;
- Committing to reporting data back to the nations and participants; and
- Maintaining strong systems of accountability and honoring Indigenous data sovereignty.
In addition to this approach to working with Indigenous communities, I also support the development of other community approaches—most recently, an approach to working with Hispanic/Latinx communities spearheaded by Hispanic/Latina employees here at FMG.
Q: How does FMG take part in civic engagement?
RC: FMG approaches our responsibility to civic engagement at both the individual and corporate levels. For individual employees, we provide 16 hours of volunteer time off (VTO) each year for people to spend giving back to their communities. As we are currently an all-remote workforce spread out across the United States, that means our employees can put over 6,000 hours into local communities in dozens of counties across the country. FMG is also organizationally committed to ensuring that our employees do not face any barriers in participating in democratic elections; therefore, we provide each employee with 2 hours of paid time off to vote.
As an organization, FMG provides pro bono services to non-partisan research issues focused on local, state, and national elections.
Q: How has FMG's community engagement grown since becoming a certified B Corp in 2017?
RC: I love this question because I started at FMG in 2017—right before we received our B Corp certification—so I've been witness to all the ways we've grown over the past four years. It's been pretty amazing!
In 2017, in addition to achieving B Corp certification, we also launched our SERV (Social Engagement through Research Centered Volunteerism) initiative, which oversees the company's social impact and pro bono engagements. We started with some great local projects supporting a dental clinic and free financial planning services, and rapidly expanded to supporting national substance use disorder recovery efforts.
Since 2017, we've continued to expand our engagement with local and national communities. We have offered a racial equity learning series featuring external historians and internal deep-dive discussion sessions. We have also worked with tribal colleges and universities to develop an Indigenous internship program and identified ways to use our physical location and internal capabilities to support the needs of our local Arlington, VA community. We're headquartered in Arlington and have worked with local organizations here, such as Toys for Tots and Meals on Wheels.
Q: What inspired these changes?
RC: In short? Our core values! We are committed to not only doing things "the right way" but to "the endless pursuit of growth." We know that we can always be better: better humans, better community members, and a better organization—and this excites us! When the world changes, we change with it. But we're also not afraid to be trailblazers in changing our world for the better.
Q: What's in store for FMG shortly that will further this progress?
RC: So much! I've already mentioned a lot—implementing our racial equity strategic goals, bringing on exceptional new talent, developing additional research, and continuing community engagement approaches that are culturally respectful will keep FMG a leader in the community impact space.
Q: What piece of advice can you share with organizations embarking on this journey or thinking of making similar changes?
RC: Normalize difficult conversations. Show vulnerability. Be excited to be the first to do something, but make sure you're finding ways to make it easier for others to follow in your footsteps. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, as long as you're committed to learning from them.