Risky Business

April, 2007

The phrase: “Lifting the kimono” certainly has a risqué ring to it. It’s our privilege to push some boundaries and do just that with our Best Places to Work package this month. We are revealing the work culture of Hawaii Business’ parent company PacificBasin Communications, so that other companies can learn from our quest to become a Best Place to Work (BPTW).

We are exploring grey journalistic territory by reporting on ourselves for what we consider the greater good. While we tend to shy away from doing stories about people in our company or even spouses of people in our company, simply because a better job can usually be done by shining the light on others, this particular opportunity demanded that we rise to the occasion in the appropriate fashion. We made one other exception to our rule in this issue. Our SB cover story on page 55 is about Hastings & Pleadwell, the regional winner of the Women in Business Champion for the Western Region for the Small Business Administration. A partner in that company, Barbra Pleadwell, is married to our company’s creative director Jayson Harper. Again, we didn’t want to exclude Hastings & Pleadwell from being covered because of some hard and fast rule, because we felt our readers could benefit from hearing their story. There is also good reason to shine the light on a regional SBA award winner.

As part of this year’s BPTW program, PacificBasin Communications had its employees surveyed, just as if it was an applicant to be a Best Place to Work in Hawaii. Despite some unique benefits and the obvious pride that many employees take in their work, our company fell short. It’s important to note that Hawaii Business would never include PacificBasin Communications’ results in its list of winners, even if our score had been high enough to rank us. However, we felt that being open about our shortcomings and examining the reasons for them and some possible solutions would be instructive and helpful to the larger community.

Believing that openness on our part would benefit our readership, PacificBasin Communications President John Alves approved of the plan to cover ourselves and allowed our editorial team access to the raw data and the anonymous employee comments for PacificBasin Communications. Alves was interviewed for the story about his interpretation of the data and plans to move forward. Editorial Assistant Kyle Galdeira also spoke to winning Best Companies to get their takes on what PacificBasin Communications could do to improve in key areas, such as communication and employee recognition.

The result, is some good, practical advice that any company in Hawaii would do well to heed. We hope you’ll agree that taking a journalistic risk with this story was worth the reward.

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Kelli Abe Trifonovitch