2021 marks the third year of Ethos as a company. To celebrate how much the team has grown since its beginning, we’ve been spotlighting all of the talented and hardworking individuals who make up our team! Through Our Ethos, you will discover what each team member enjoys most about working here and what their personal ethos is.
Meet Project Specialist, Brittany Coleman!
Describe your role at Ethos.
I’m the Project Specialist at Ethos, and just like the name describes, I take on any “special” projects that fall under the operations umbrella. This means I handle anything from scheduling meetings to managing our internal processes and systems.
What made you want to work at Ethos?
I faced a bit of an awakening during my job as a librarian. I didn’t feel appreciated or valued. I worked in a very affluent and wealthy neighborhood. The patrons were very demanding, spiteful, and at times blatantly racist towards me—the only librarian of color in the building. Our library leadership was also very weak and resistant to social issues and cultural change. Nothing about public librarianship felt welcoming to people like me.
I had spent considerable time and money going back to school to get a master’s degree in Library and Information Science; yet, my ROI in the emotional and fulfilled categories wasn’t very high. I had wanted to help people; I wanted to make a difference. Did I really waste two years of my life right before a global pandemic to get another degree, only to work at a place that didn’t value my time, education, or work ethic? This realization caused me to slump into a deep depression. After all, I went back to school to reset my career, find some flexibility in my schedule, and feel like I was contributing to something important. I had none of that in my role as a librarian.
When I first applied to Ethos, I’ll admit it was a bit of a lazy process for me. I was fascinated by the company and its work, but I was just one of the hundreds of applicants. I didn’t really think anything was going to come of it. I just figured that my job situation couldn’t possibly get any worse, so what was the harm in applying? After I had my first interview with Alida, I sat in my parents’ home (because I was there on vacation) and cried for about 10 minutes before going back downstairs. My mother asked me how the interview went, and I nonchalantly replied that it was “average” and I wasn’t going to get my hopes up.
What I failed to tell my mother was that my conversation with Alida was one of the most fulfilling conversations I had ever had during a job interview process. Alida shared her own experiences, shared the direction she wanted her organization to go in, and opened up the conversation for me to be fully transparent in what I wanted for my next role. I was treated like a full and whole person, not like a piece of cattle or a worker bee that was only there to benefit the company. I didn’t tell my mother any of this because I didn’t want to jinx my chances!
What has been your favorite aspect of working at Ethos?
My favorite part of working at Ethos is the fact that I (and the rest of the team as a whole) am included in major decisions. We each have a voice, and even while we know that Alida is ultimately going to make final decisions, she still listens to us and gives us the space and opportunity to share our opinions.
What has been your favorite project you have worked on?
I haven’t been here for very long (just four weeks today—woohoo!), but my favorite project to date has been reorganizing our internal document infrastructure. I went to school for Information Science, and data infrastructure and process migrations are something I spent quite a bit of time studying. I love being able to just sit at my computer and play around with our programs and brainstorm ways to make things better and more efficient for our team. I feel like I’m putting my advanced degree to work, and it’s very fulfilling work for me.
What do diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging mean to you?
These words didn’t mean much to me while growing up in the South Bay Area. I went to a high school and university that were both very diverse and progressive. However, when I entered the workforce, I started to see the differences in opportunities amongst me, my friends, and fellow co-workers.
Throughout the twelve years I spent in the marketing and librarian workforces before making it to Ethos, I never felt like I belonged. I was always the only Black woman sitting in meetings. I was never promoted despite working hard and seeking extra help and mentorship on projects, and in many situations, I was often in emotionally abusive relationships with my direct managers. By the time I received my master’s degree and entered the public library realm, I was tired. I knew that I needed to work for a company that would respect me and value the skills I had to offer. To me, DEIB means celebrating the whole person—not just the parts society tells us to accept whiteness, extrovertism, docility, or intense displays of sexuality. All of the former things can, of course, be celebrated (in the appropriate circumstances), but they should not be the only traits that are accepted in our workforce society.
What does the word “ethos” mean to you?
When I hear the word “ethos,” I immediately think of integrity. Integrity is one of those qualities that can either make or break a person, and it (or the lack of it) can affect organizations as well. I’ve always tried to be as honest as possible in all my personal and secular relationships. Life is short already, and there are so many ways a person can be let down, so integrity is extremely important.
What is your personal ethos? How does it show up in your everyday life?
My personal ethos is for me to do some good while I’m here on this earth. We all only have so many opportunities to do good. That’s why it was so important for me to work for an organization that cares about who I am as a person, truly cares about its mission, and treats employees with integrity. Now that I’m with Ethos, I have the opportunity to support an organization that makes DEIB its main focus for others. Words can’t describe how fortunate I feel to help other people like me feel included in their organizations.
Cover Photo by Tembo Tones