Our Ethos: Walter Faro

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.

This week’s highlight is Consulting Associate, Walter Faro!

Describe your role at Ethos.

I’m a Consulting Associate, which formally means that I conduct quantitative and qualitative research for our consulting practice. I also produce deliverables and seek to lend a voice to strategy whenever I can be helpful.

Though, I’d like to give more information on how I carry out that role. I actively live in the research we conduct, which is data produced by human stories. Tracing the narratives of their experiences and finding connections, trends, and themes allows me to gain perspective on culture formation within an organization. As I report on trends, a research narrative emerges that aligns various people’s experiences in ways that give us actionable insights. My role is to drive that process with as much sincerity as possible and to locate any opportunity to refine it. I am advocating for the research we produce and the experiences of people that are echoing within it.

What made you want to work at Ethos?

Well, every decision I make for my career is a personal one and working for Ethos was no different. I have a trauma-based disability that has always led me to feel like an outsider. It’s invisible to most people, and because of that, I often reflect on how illegible parts of myself were to people I’ve worked for. I have historically been accepted into privileged groups and been given access to opportunities simply because of how comfortable leaders have felt around me. I have been offered opportunities simply by keeping my mouth shut during a conversation while I was internally thinking of ways to run away. I don’t believe any of those opportunities were offered to me because of anything unique about me as a person or my skill set. In fact, I often felt more seen when I was excluded on behalf of my disability than included on the basis that it wasn’t visible enough.

Quite honestly, mental health has meant everything in my life. My disability has led me to suicide so many times for how alone I have felt among groups of people who claimed they accepted me. I saw my father resort to suicide for some of those same feelings. Yet, my trauma is also what led me to begin writing poetry, which led me out of homelessness and to a master’s degree. I don’t want it to be viewed as only a detriment.

So I will personally only ever feel like I belong somewhere if all the parts of my identity get to come along with me. I’m only interested in a future for myself where healing and wholeness are possible. Above all, I want to work towards ensuring those kinds of possibilities are available for as many people as possible. I don’t want to pursue a life of overcoming suffering for one but not suffering for all. I saw possibilities to begin making that a reality by working at Ethos, and that’s why I’m here.

What has been your favorite aspect of working at Ethos?

My favorite aspect is that I’m allowed and encouraged to be principled. I don’t have to put profit above people, and no one gets tired of me asking questions or posing new ideas. I’m someone who is extremely stubborn about doing any task that is detached from a principled process. If my work is only serving to do something like increase profit or to deploy an appearance to stakeholders, I become totally inept. With that said, I guess my favorite aspect is the vibe? The authenticity? Both of those.

What has been your favorite project you have worked on?

Every time we work on research for a client, we truly lead by asking, “Why?” That questioning is my favorite step of every project. Each one is a chance to learn something new about what DEIB means and how our work can serve others better. I mentioned earlier how individual experiences within an organization align with one another to form trends and tell a larger story, and the same is true of how projects begin to come together over time. I guess what I’m saying here is that I’m learning, and there is no end to learning about relation.

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

There are definitions of each of these words that I prefer over my own, but I’ll speak to an element of each that is coming up for me in the moment of my writing:

Diversity entails caring about the gradient of human experience. If someone is seeking to create a conglomerate of homogeneous experiences, then that person believes they have identified the locus of experience that is the most valuable for a purpose. Meanwhile, seeking to be informed non-hierarchically by the entire possible gradation of experience means that one does not recognize their perspective on others’ experiences as primary and is willing to defer to others’ perspectives. The latter is a disposition of listening, and the former is a disposition of imposition.

Equity emerges as the recognition that various environments are more or less conducive to the strengths of different people, and then the actions that are taken to canalize those different paths in a non-hierarchical way. In other words, making sure that anyone has the opportunity to let their strengths shine, their struggles accommodated, and their path to be met without judgment.

Inclusion is actively engaging the proximity between people and the information, resources, or experiences that are likely to benefit them. Inclusion is the sharing of power and is thus a choice—one that is best offered voluntarily and without imperative.

Belonging is difficult for me because I’ve rarely felt like I belong anywhere. Though, the glimpses of belonging that I have felt served as tremendous motivators for me. With that said, no one can make me feel like I belong; I have to feel it organically. Someone’s will that another belongs is in no way corollary to their sense of belonging. Belonging is the result of seeing yourself represented in a space (diversity), having access to power distributed evenly to you and those beside you (equity), and being welcomed to engage mutually in experiences that would serve you along your path (inclusion).

What does the word “ethos” mean to you?

As someone who used to teach college courses on rhetoric, it means reading Aristotle and then teaching people about the problems with Aristotle. It also means understanding how one (person, group, culture) represents their character as circumstantially reliable and relevant to specific principles via speech, writing, or any other form of expression.

Personally, it means inflecting all of the signs that I leave of my existence with a sense of integrity. Am I putting a word or sign out into the world that carries with it a trace of who I believe myself to be? A person who is present and offers care to others?

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

Okay, I view myself as a character so I’m interpreting my personal ethos as a general ontology of self.

My sense of character (or self, selves) is the connectedness I have to all things. I am a unique emergence within that flow of existence, of course, but I try to stay rooted in connectedness. Moreover, there are tiny molecular bugs on my eyebrows and billions of living organisms all throughout my body, rendering me a metropolis population, not just Walter.

I believe that infinity is both the most singular molecule and the entire collective cosmos. My distance to the number one and my distance to the largest number are the same. Thus, anything I hurt hurts me, and anything I heal heals me. Healing is just harder to quantify than hurting. Growth is harder to quantify than deficit.

Pursuing healing, growth, and change means choosing to engage in a life of tension. I believe that’s important. It ought not always be the case that we remain fascinated with matter but that we examine the ways in which matter has become fascinated with us. If I am only ever measuring the ways in which the world fascinates me or doesn’t, I am living in an illusion of singularity. With that said, my personal ethos is:

  1. Striving to be present with the reality of my connectedness and refusing the desire to make the world in my image.
  2. Not making decisions on the behalf of others that they do not choose for themselves, and not interpolating them in ways that they do not define for themselves.
  3. Actively resisting an occidental gaze that views things in order to totalize and taxonomize them.
  4. Seeking to love myself unconditionally so that I can offer care and show love to others with as little condition, expectation, or judgment as possible.

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