It’s a bold statement, to say that we deserve your vote for “Best People Business” in the Smarta 100 awards. How arrogant! How self-centred! How… contradictory? Aren’t arrogance and self-centredness flaws in the human character? How can we possibly claim such a title with a straight face?

And yet, that’s the prize I’m going to try and claim from you, dear reader… Bear with me.

Do you know your colleagues’ salaries and the company’s financials down to the penny? Everyone at GrantTree does. Can you make a sweeping decision like hiring new people or making a big purchase even as the most recent hire in the company? People at GrantTree can. Is your company more concerned with controlling your behaviour or supporting it? Are you trusted as an intelligent, capable adult, made powerful and impactful by your environment, or treated as a child, incapable of dealing with the bigger picture without falling into irresponsible behaviour? These questions, and many more, have lived with us at GrantTree every day since the team began to grow, and have shaped who we are and how we do things.

I cannot and will not claim that GrantTree’s culture is great, world class, excellent or perfect from any perspective. In fact, I am the first one to admit that it is broken in hundreds of big and small ways, some visible and some hidden, but all troubling. Nor will I claim that it is better than the culture of the other companies in our “Best People” category – I do not know enough about those companies to judge them so. And yet despite these shortcomings, I think GrantTree deserves your vote.

The reason is not where we are. Sure, we have a number of “talkable” features, like our complete transparency (as mentioned earlier, all business information is open, including salaries; this drives out unfairness and forces us to offer more than the usual secret bonuses to retain our best people), our decision process (the advice process, which enables anyone to make any decision they feel comfortable in making, so long as they first ask for advice from those who are subject matter experts or who will be impacted by the decision), our separation of roles and people (recognising that people can and should be able to contribute in many more ways than those specified in their job description), our open approach to compensation (set by a committee of people in the company independent from the shareholders and founders), or even our approach to management (the typical, hierarchical fiefdoms that form within most companies are hunted down and eliminated – GrantTree people are expected to manage themselves).

But if I were to list out those “features” six months ago, many would have been different. It is not the strength of those features that makes me truly believe in GrantTree’s culture.

What I love about GrantTree’s culture is that we are never satisfied with what we have, we are always exploring the boundaries and pushing them out. GrantTree is an ongoing, never-ending social experiment in which we explore ways that people can work together to grow a company without falling prey to all the old traps of traditional business culture, where we ultimately, fundamentally respect the human beings that have joined us for this journey and ceaselessly strive to make things better for those people working there.

GrantTree is not the “Best People Business”. It never will be. It never can be. But we will never stop trying to get better.

If, like me, you think that’s worthy of your vote, please vote here!

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