Our Ethos: Alida Miranda-Wolff

Our Ethos
Minute Read

2021 marks the third year of Ethos as a company. To celebrate how much the team has grown since its beginning, we want to spotlight all of the talented and hardworking individuals who make up our team!

Over the next month, we will discover what each team member enjoys most about working here and what their personal ethos is.

Our first highlight is none other than our vibrant, intelligent, and driven Founder and CEO, Alida Miranda-Wolff!

Describe your role at Ethos.

I am the CEO of Ethos. In my role, I am responsible for:

  • Ensuring we achieve our vision of creating the conditions for everyone to thrive at work by overseeing our strategy and research and development
  • Conducting sales
  • Solving DEI challenges and seizing on opportunities at our client organizations.
  • Facilitating learning, intentionally shaping the internal organizational culture, managing our team members
  • Engaging with the community to advocate for marginalized groups.

What made you want to start at Ethos?

I never wanted to be a founder. Throughout my career, I had always said I was destined to be “second-in-command.” I feared risk; I was the primary breadwinner in my family, and I believed I didn’t know enough to develop my own vision. I also badly wanted to feel belonging, give the gift of welcome and support to others, and lead with empathy, thoughtfulness, kindness, and humility.

I founded Ethos when I was 25-years-old. While I felt unsure of my DEI knowledge, I genuinely believed the tools, models, and frameworks I developed in my VC firm to advocate for investors and founders from marginalized groups could help people I cared about. And so I decided to turn my departure from my VC firm into the official Ethos launch.

What has been your favorite aspect of working at Ethos?

A few years ago, I was part of a branding exercise where people had to describe me in two words. My teammates at my previous firm used two phrases: “big heart” and “problem-solver.” It turns out what I love most about working at Ethos is having the space and permission to really care about people and to act on that care by digging into challenging situations and coming out on the other side with practical solutions.

What has been your favorite project you have worked on?

I love complex projects where I have to work with a team of people to figure out the best and most practical solutions. The more I can learn and experiment, the better. That means I’ve had a lot of “favorites” at Ethos over the years, whether re-architecting employee growth plans with a focus on closing the opportunity gap for marginalized groups at Buildout, to facilitating consensus-based decision-making projects at the Poetry Foundation, to designing and launching anti-racist management programs for a handful of organizations.

With that said, for the last several years, we have partnered with 1871 on the Women Influence Chicago Accelerator (WIC). WIC is designed for mid-career, women-identifying technologists who exhibit exceptional promise in their current roles and would benefit from support in how to translate that promise into promotions or increased responsibilities. What so inspires me about the program as an educator is the community that emerges over the course of our four months of educating, facilitating, coaching, and mentoring.

We have welcomed over 80 dedicated, sharp, and curious software engineers, product managers, UX/UI designers, and data engineers into the program in the last two years. We live in a professional environment where there is a stereotype that women in positions of power don’t help other women get to power. Scarcity creates competition. Our Wiccans could show up like that—they could be competitive with one another, hold their cards close, and play into that stereotype. But they are open, vulnerable, authentic, emotionally generous, and professionally even more so. They have shared information, given each other counsel, met 1:1 to coach each other, invited one another onto podcasts and panels, and shared mentors. They restore my faith in the world when I feel hopeless or helpless, and they give me the momentum I need to keep advocating for equal opportunity and equitable treatment every day.

What do diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging mean to you?

In my literal, un-fun way, I am going to provide definitions.

Diversity is the presence of variety, specifically of social identities, in a group setting.

Inclusion is the way in which employees feel invited, welcomed, and fully leveraged for who they are on a team, in their companies, and in their industries.

Equity is both about creating equal access and meeting individual needs once a baseline has been established.

Belonging is when an employee feels part of something greater than themselves that they value, respect, and trust and that values, respects, and trusts them back.

What does the word “ethos” mean to you?

I named the company “Ethos” because the word has always captured two concepts that resonate with me: the spirit or characteristic of an era, culture, or values system and an argument based on credibility. I always knew I wanted Ethos to be a company that was about helping organizations define and promote cultures of belonging that advanced marginalized groups. I also grew up, professionally, in environments where I came to value reputation, authority, and expertise. I valued these things because they felt synonymous with trust.

My hope is that Ethos engenders trust between the people who work here, between our team and the employees we advocate for, and between the people inside of the organizations we support.

What is your personal ethos? How does it show up in your everyday life?

This may be too personal and vulnerable, but I’m going to say it anyway. When I imagine the highest vision of myself, I see myself placing my hand on someone else’s heart and taking the pain away, replacing it with my light. Since I can remember, all I ever wanted to do professionally was heal people, especially people who felt like outsiders, who experienced trauma, and who needed to be protected but weren’t. My personal mantra is “teach love” because I want to help people learn to care for each other in meaningful, healthy ways. Pretty much everything I do, whether running Ethos or Embolden, picking up the phone to help someone grapple with a difficult problem, or even reading voraciously about people’s lives and histories, is tied to this desire.

Photos by Tembo Tones

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