Yes, we do all have values. And we’ve codified them.
In this case, by “we,” we mean the collection of people at Leff—because companies don’t have values, but the people in them do. This distinction has become clear as the company has grown in the past few years. When Scott and Heather started Leff Communications 10 years ago, their partnership worked partly because they agreed on a set of almost implicit values. But as we added colleagues—each of whom were hired under these implicit values—we realized that implicit wouldn’t work anymore. We needed to clearly articulate our values—for ourselves and the organizations, people, and communities we serve.
Our values inform how we spend our time, energy, and money in ways that are unique to us as a group. Not only does having a defined set of shared values help our team bond but it can help us connect with the right kinds of clients as well. Crucially, articulating our values helps us identify the unique parts of our culture and gives us a guide for making difficult decisions when they come up. And because we reverse engineered these values based on what we’re already doing—or trying to do—it won’t be a stretch to live by them.
So here’s who we are as a working community—minus the bare-minimum life skills that we should all be exercising regularly, such as accountability and collaboration. Our values describe what we care about, what we do (or want to do more of), and how we do it.
We are passionate about our work.
(Because we believe our work is meaningful.)
It can’t be surprising that a marketing communications firm would have people who are evangelical about the power of the work. Our craft is polishing and conveying ideas, and our work helps our clients do everything from convincing the board of a multinational to invest in a new initiative to raising money for nonjudgmental, informative sex education.
We amplify underrepresented voices.
(Because we believe power in society should be more equally shared.)
We’re a group of thinkers as well as marketers and communicators. And like most people, we’ve noticed that we live in a society marked by stubborn inequities. Our efforts won’t even be a drop in the bucket, but it seems strange not to contribute in some way to mitigating inequity and its effects. Boosting underrepresented voices is one way to accomplish this goal, which is why we’re in discussions to work with multiple organizations that advocate for marginalized populations as pro bono clients.
We do work that supports a wide range of ideas and perspectives.
(Because we believe limited perspectives can create inequities.)
Filtering concepts through a wider range of perspectives makes them stronger. That’s why we recommend that our clients look at their ideas through different lenses, including those of geography, gender, race, and generational cohort. Our clients want to make sure their ideas are bulletproof. Avoiding inequity-inducing weak spots is a great way to do it.
We create a workplace where colleagues’ and clients’ voices are heard and respected.
(Because we always act with compassion.)
Being heard and respected doesn’t always mean that everyone gets their way. However, respectfully hearing everyone out means that people who have informed opinions feel that their perspectives are acknowledged and taken into consideration and that they can expect similar treatment in the future.
We are thoughtful about the clients we serve and how we spend company resources.
(Because we want to be proud of our work and its impact.)
We devote time and energy to our clients in pursuit of the best outcomes for them. So, we’d like our client work to support the development of a more thoughtful, equitable world. Circa 2020, our clients would also like to be the kinds of entities that can contribute to a better world. And our company resources also extend to vendors—whether it’s office furniture, a holiday party, or a team outing—we want to support companies that share our values.
We are dedicated to supporting organizations that advance social causes and provide services to those in need.
(Because there are too many whose lives are more difficult than they should be.)
Some of our most meaningful engagements are pro bono projects that we’ve sought out ourselves. We work with at least one pro bono client every year, and those projects have included fundraising videos for Growing Home—an urban farm and job training program—and campaign collateral for Chicago Women’s Health Center.
We do what we say we’ll do.
(Because we want to do it.)
We believe in following through—not just because we say we will but because we believe it is the right thing to do. We commit to work that we sincerely want to do. And if we fall short, we take responsibility and do whatever we can to make it right.
Now that we’ve defined our values, the real learning will come from seeing which values we easily live up to and which ones we must work harder to fulfill. We look forward to being intentional and aligned in our actions.