Bravely founder Toby Hervey occupies a unique space in the business market.
His organization facilitates healthier office environments by giving employees tools to be better self-advocates. How? Hervey’s company connects them with coaches with expertise in negotiations and conflict resolution.
“I definitely believe that being gay gave me more empathy for what it’s like to be underrepresented,” says the entrepreneur. “That’s definitely been an organic leap throughout my professional life. Even from the time I was very little, I had ideas that were different, and at least part of that difference is being gay.”
Hervey’s orientation and his perspective have provided challenges, he’ll admit. But they’re also a vantage point to see opportunity where others might not. “I’ve always considered myself both ‘other,’ because of being gay and privileged to come from a good and stable home environment.
“Because of that, I’ve taken risks and done projects differently than they were assigned and had success with that. So why not do things a little bit differently? Seeing the world from another perspective helped me in finding fresh approaches to problem solving, with technology driving that.”
The impetus for this business model came from personal experience, he says. “A female friend called me asking for advice on how to deal with a boss she couldn’t reason with; he wasn’t supporting her and she was fed up with being worked to the bone.”
Hervey intervened. “I was just trying to help her build a better way to negotiate for more equitable treatment in the workplace,” he reflects. “And it was all very familiar territory for me, because as a gay man, I had navigated the same things myself, wondering, ‘Am I too gay?’ in this environment?”
Bravely, he explains, was created to help “empower people in those kinds of workplace situations. And once we got going , we saw pretty quickly how marginalized people — anyone different and particularly people of color — face an extra layer of navigating identity in work environments.”
Put Me In, Coach
It’s part of Bravely’s mission statement to coach employees so that ultimately, they’re independently able to resolve conflicts on the job.
“And,” says the exec, “some 12 percent of our clients identify as LGBTQ. I know we’re one small tool in helping people overcome systemic bias in the workplace. But most access to coaching happens for managers and leaders and employees considered ‘high potentials.’ Most of those are white, male, privileged and heterosexual. We’ve made it so that Bravely’s available to people at every level of any organization — and that means truly equitable access and a really powerful opportunity for growth.”
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Last modified: December 10, 2019