Matt Escoubas serves as Director of Special Initiatives at Fors Marsh Group (FMG) where he oversees FMG efforts focused on social good efforts, including growing the B Corp movement by increasing awareness of and driving a greater number of companies to become B Corp certified, working to reduce the stigma associated with opioid misuse prevention, treatment and recovery, and supporting singular community engagement projects championed by FMG employees through volunteer hours. Matt’s experience spans a range of topics, including opioid misuse prevention, treatment and recovery, high blood pressure and stroke prevention, tobacco prevention and control, asthma awareness, nursing research, and palliative care. His efforts have received multiple industry awards, including a PR News Platinum Award, Bronze Anvil Award, two National Health Information Awards, and two Thoth Awards.
Fors Marsh Group (FMG) is committed to using business as a force for good. As a Certified B Corporation, we engage in business practices that positively impact our community, our employees, our clients, and the environment. But what does “doing good” really mean? How do we deliver on our promise and put our social purpose into action?
The foundation of a purposeful company fundamentally comes down to adherence to a set of core values that embody how it operates. At FMG, that means we see our role as broader than a simple financial bottom line. We believe that businesses must share responsibility for strengthening the systems in which we operate.
Our commitment to using business for good extends beyond our core capabilities to include comprehensive social purpose initiatives. We look for opportunities to provide pro bono services in research, communications, and other areas to help advance issues of social importance that do not receive sufficient attention or lack resources. For example, because of the alarming rise in opioid overdoses and deaths, one of the first areas that FMG has focused pro bono resources on is substance use disorders (SUD).
Three years ago, as the opioid crisis continued to grow with the proliferation of fentanyl-laced drugs, FMG began leveraging its internal resources to support systemic change and engage in social impact on the issue. Since 2019, FMG has dedicated more than $2 million in pro bono services to combat the stigma associated with SUD and to strengthen the infrastructure of recovery services nationally.
FMG is committed to improving access to research and resources for recovery. We collaborated with global communications company WPP and iHeartMedia to create the National Opioid Action Coalition (NOAC), and most recently hosted a first-of-its-kind virtual SUD Recovery Research Summit in partnership with Global Recovery Initiatives (GRI) Foundation.
FMG also recently announced a multi-year pledge to measure national public opinion on aspects of SUD stigma and the role that companies should play in supporting employees in recovery. The survey, which FMG plans to conduct annually for the next 5 years, will assess stigma associated with SUD, attitudes related to recovery, the need for employer-based recovery services, and consumer affinity to brands based on the knowledge of supportive workplace SUD policies.
After conducting an initial sampling on public opinion of SUDs in the fall of 2021, we found that:
- 81% agreed that most employers would be cautious of hiring someone treated for an SUD.
- 70% of people in recovery felt that a job interviewer wouldn’t hire them if they mentioned their substance use history in a job interview.
- 67% agreed that most people think less of a person who has been in treatment for an SUD.
- 93% said it’s important for employers to support substance use recovery programs for their employees.
- 92% of people surveyed said they’d purchase a product from a brand that supports addiction recovery.
As part of FMG’s ongoing corporate engagement around SUD, we plan to use the future survey results to increase public awareness of what it means to be in recovery, reduce stigma, and drive the effort to adopt corporate recovery workforce programs nationwide.
Our commitment to breaking the stigma of SUD is not just an external initiative, but an internal commitment as well. With approximately 9% of all employed adults currently struggling with a substance use disorder, we understand that our own employees may be impacted. To support these individuals and those already in recovery, FMG developed a Workplace-Supported Recovery Program to help employees find treatment and recovery resources tailored to support their unique situations. For some, it may mean taking a leave of absence to focus on their recovery. For others, it may be appropriate to continue working while attending outpatient treatment. Whatever the case, our program is designed to support the individual and create a safe space to ask for and receive help without fear of retribution.
The Workplace-Supported Recovery Program also aims to:
- Educate all FMG employees on SUD, and specifically on recovery;
- Train all supervisors on how to best support employees from diagnosis to full recovery;
- Provide, as part of the FMG benefits package, recovery coaching to any employee;
- Offer education and support for family members (including dependents and non-dependents).
No matter their needs, FMG stands behind its employees and will never consider substance use disorders as cause for automatic termination. Instead, the long-term goal is to create an environment where staff feel empowered to ask for help without fear of losing their job.
To learn more about our commitment to SUD and recovery, click here.