Through the MovingWorlds S-GRID Program, we’re working with a global network of innovators who are building a more just, sustainable, and equitable global economy. In our #SGRIDspotlight series, we’re bringing you behind the scenes to learn how our partner organizations are making a difference in the world, and how S-GRID is helping them reach the next level.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with one of the purpose-driven leaders in the S-GRID program, Aimee Koval, to learn more about how her business is making work more inclusive and how S-GRID has helped her connect to new growth opportunities. Continue reading to hear from Aimee in her own words!
Making Work Inclusive For All
Aimee is the President & Co-Founder of Metis Consulting Group, a Disability-Owned Business Enterprise (DOBE), certified B Corp, and New York State Public Benefit Corporation. In addition to custom software development, database architecture and marketing technology integration, Metis offers management consulting expertise including social impact-oriented organizational development, training and facilitation services. Recently, CenterState CEO recognized Metis as a 2021 Economic Champion for its commitment to sustainable economic development as a primary driver of positive social change.
As Aimee explained, “Being certified as a DOBE means that our majority ownership and management is by people with disabilities, in addition to meeting third party-audited standards of accessibility and programming that support people with disabilities. As a person with an invisible disability and as a parent of an adult child with a disability, it was important for me to develop a work culture where employees feel supported both as individuals as well as in their roles as caregivers outside of work.”
The inclusive model that Metis Consulting Group is built on creates new opportunities for people who have a tremendous amount to offer but have traditionally been excluded from the workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020 just 17.9 percent of persons with a disability were employed, a statistic that companies like Metis are working to change through the work they do every day. Its deep commitment to professional development, community-based learning, and train-to-hire opportunities with a particular eye toward diversity, equity, and inclusion, earned Metis a placement as a 2021 Top Social Impact Company by Real Leaders magazine.
Aimee shared that “We take a listening-first approach to supporting the needs of caregivers and people with disabilities, then apply universal design principles to our policies and best practices – so rather than the status quo being inaccessible and offering special accommodations, we’ve built a status quo that is inclusive and accessible for all, from work schedules and paid time off to professional development training and accessible technical design implementation.“
This inclusive approach is foundational to the way that Metis operates internally as well as externally, with partners. For example, the Metis team partners with mission-aligned organizations and gives team members paid time off to volunteer. Last year, instead of leaving the Metis offices empty when the team shifted to remote work during the pandemic, Aimee and her team found a way to use the space to make a difference. “There is a partner organization that we’ve supported over the years called David’s Refuge, which provides respite, resources, and support to parents and guardians of children with special needs or life threatening medical conditions. We knew that they were looking for office space and that their lease was coming due soon, and like many other nonprofit organizations they were struggling to fulfill their mission in the middle of a pandemic. We offered the use of our office space for Q4 of 2020 and the entirety of 2021, and as a result, they can now take the money they are saving from rent and put it into their programming to meet the critical needs of caregivers during this particularly challenging time when resources are stretched thin.”
In all, Metis responded to the extraordinary needs of its team, clients, and community by providing each employee with an average of 300 hours of paid time off for downtime and to attend to evolving personal needs, in addition to committing more than 10% of total work time to professional development training, community volunteerism, and collective action activities through organizations like WeTheChange and Reclaim Our Vote.
The Perfect Complement to a Small Team
The social problems that Metis is working to address have become even more urgent as a result of the COVID crisis, leading Aimee to start exploring ways that her small but dedicated team could be even more of a force for good.
When Aimee learned about S-GRID, she remembers that “It seemed like a great opportunity to access the supports and materials for strategic planning, connect with other for-purpose organizations, and plug into this organized effort backed by industry leading sponsors.” When it comes to scaling impact, Aimee shared that “as a small for-purpose organization, it takes a lot of time and dedicated effort when you don’t have entire departments to work on things like sales, growth, and partnerships. S-GRID was the perfect complement to help us move these efforts forward, offering the tools and connections we needed to unlock new opportunities. We hold each other accountable, and these new connections have helped me learn how we can make a conscious effort to make more of our consulting work about helping for-purpose companies advance their missions.”
In addition to the peer-to-peer networking, S-GRID participants also have access to webinars and workshops led by Industry Leaders. Aimee found these sessions to be particularly valuable, sharing that “Beyond getting to meet these Industry Leaders directly, they are also giving really good advice about how we can access the right decision makers at the companies we want to partner with. Through several webinars we’ve connected with all kinds of organizations, including getting onto some preferred supplier portals. We’re seeing a lot of new activity in terms of requests for proposals (RFPs) being pushed to us, and that’s been huge and saves us a lot of time. I’m learning about new opportunities I didn’t know existed before in the space of social procurement.”
As an example of how a recent webinar sponsored by S-GRID yielded an immediate positive impact, Aimee shared that “After attending the S-GRID social selling webinar, my Social Selling Index score on LinkedIn jumped substantially within days of implementing Dan Swift’s recommendations. My profile views jumped 21%, and I accepted 11 new high-quality connection requests during that same period.”
Success Through Collaboration
No single company or individual actor can solve our most pressing global challenges on their own. For Metis—and for many other scaling social enterprises—partners and networks are instrumental to success.
In addition to being part of the S-GRID network, Aimee noted several other collaborations that have helped Metis along its path to scale. Becoming a certified B-Corporation and scoring highly on the B-impact assessment has helped Aimee demonstrate the credibility of Metis social mission. Various B-Lab collective action groups, like WeTheChange and the Climate Collaborative, have created new opportunities for Aimee to meet other purpose-driven founders and explore potential collaborations. Metis also collaborates with regional economic development group CenterState CEO on consulting bids and on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) advisory activities, which has led to new regional networking relationships and opportunities to market their services. Aimee is also part of Ellevate Network (a fellow S-GRID participant!) and the Disability Inclusion Network, and is a sought-after writer, adviser, and university guest lecturer on social impact entrepreneurship
Belonging to networks like these create new opportunities for mutually beneficial partnerships that advance the SDGs. As an example, in 2020 Metis partnered with Boson based B-Corp Habitus Incorporated to develop a new training program called “Challenging Conversations” in collaboration with experts at the Harvard Program on Negotiation. “Our goal was to bring unity and civility into our private and public discourse, while supporting our social purpose mission to bring free or low-cost communications and conflict management training to individuals and organizations around the world,” Aimee shared. “Challenging Conversations” was selected as a semifinalist in the 2020 Unity Week Pitch Grant Competition sponsored by NBIC/WBENC and PepsiCo, and will be available on Teachable soon.
We’re grateful to Aimee for taking the time to share her story with us, and honored to be able to support organizations like Metis in scaling their world-changing ideas. Are you a social entrepreneur interested in following Metis’ lead in scaling through networks and partnerships? Apply to the S-GRID program for support growing your revenues, team, and impact while helping rebuild a more sustainable and equitable economy.