JOYN is in an industry that encompasses the strengths of business and philanthropy. A recent article about TOMS shared its Founder, Blake Mycoskie’s view that “…for-profit and a bottom-line focus didn’t have to be in conflict with for-good.” JOYN’s philosophy resonates with this vision. When the ‘ends’ is profit only, the ‘means’ will never entail justice and joy.
The company started out with setting down its principles and values: Justice, Healthy Relationships, Integrity, Excellence and Humility. It continues, even today to pay attention to nurturing them and developing them in their lives and attitudes of all people associated with the company.
What do these values mean?
Even literally, the meanings of these terms are vast, and when we start to really understand their meaning in our everyday work and personal lives, they get even deeper. The artisans we work with have not had too many opportunities to experience a life with these values.
It is not easy to explain healthy relationships to a young woman who was forced into begging and prostitution by her own family.
For a man with severe disability, fathoming the meaning of justice is difficult when he has encountered hundreds of people who never had a kind word to spare as they hurried into the glittering mall outside which he begged.
Most of our artisans have known arrogance and contempt from many people in positions of affluence. So to them, being humble means keeping quiet and not speaking their minds, nor asking questions.
Ridden with worry of day-to-day survival all their lives, they have not dwelled on excellence in the past. Work had only been the means of ensuring some food for the family on that day and so excelling at something had never been a priority, or an option.
The journey of introducing these values in the company environment has been no small task, and even after more than three years, we sometimes feel we are only a short way up the road. But with this, we also see very recognizable changes in our people. There is a dawning of the need for more acceptance and more grace. There is the realization that everybody in the company is truly equal and that justice will always prevail. There are hesitant but definite instances of our artisans voicing honest opinions because they know they will not be snubbed.
The richness of values
Visitors to JOYN often remark on the happy vibes in the office and it is a trait of our company that we cherish. Our company was named with JOY in mind. In our experience, the richness of good values has been so fruitful that is seeps into our fabric with the paint and it entwines in the threads of our bags. People respond to this kind of richness and depth. We will continue to be a company that is founded on sound values and principles. It is working and we are forever changed.