The Greater Us
What Inspires Us
We are often asked the question why we named our company “The Greater Us.” The name reflects both our approach and our aspirations.
A central orientation for us is engaging the whole community in the work of equity, inclusion, diversity, and the prevention of harassment rather than having it be something that happens off to the side. Often, thinking about interpersonal violence focuses on the interactions between individuals. At The Greater Us, we see harassment and discrimination as occurring in a context, within communities, in which perpetrators are given implicit and explicit messages about the kinds of behaviors that they will likely get away with—even when group norms say these behaviors are clearly wrong.
The impact of not intervening and disrupting harmful behavior is the same as endorsing it. Organizations that have harassment policies that they do not enforce give perpetrators the message they will not be held accountable. Whether these are companies which don’t take strong action when abuses occur, or academic fields in which abusers are well-known but not held accountable, the impact is the same: harassers receive the message that they can target people for abuse with impunity.
Much of our inspiration comes from renowned trauma theorist Judith Herman. Most well-known for her 1992 Trauma and Recovery, she wrote a 2005 article called “Justice from the Victim’s Perspective” in which she asked survivors what constituted justice for them. She found that neither a retributive nor a restorative model-- which still focused only on the perpetrator-target dyad-- quite fit what they were describing. Rather, they spoke about the impact that their communities had—both in creating the conditions that made the occurrence of abuse possible and perpetuating the harms afterward. For this reason, we treat the whole community or organization as the site for intervention, focusing on ensuring leadership is equipped to handle problems when they arise.
The Greater Us is also aspirational. We believe that an expanded definition of “us” is an important first step to addressing many of the issues we are concerned with. In organizational settings, the benefit is clear. Allowing inequities and prejudices from the outside world to replicate unchecked within an organization can needlessly lead to conflict, exclusion, attrition, and low morale. We are working toward a world where we all have the opportunity to reach our potentials, and where we, collectively, find ways to do better by breaking cycles of dysfunction.
A better world is possible, and it starts with us.