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Turning Away Our First Client

Stephen Straus
Co-founder, Managing Director

We launched KUNGFU.AI in January 2018 and that same month we turned down our first potential client because of ethical concerns. We were approached by a company who requested us to take on a project that was in direct conflict with our company values and after careful consideration and with a fair amount of trepidation, we made the decision to turn down working with them. This was despite the fact that all we were doing at that point was looking for our first clients.

When we made the decision it felt momentous, but as soon as we did, it clarified a lot. Since, we have been clear and confident in our values and ethical stance and continue to periodically turn down work for ethical reasons. For over four years now we have held weekly or bi-weekly Ethics Discussion Group meetings which are open to the entire company to help us ensure we remain true to our values. I have attended almost 100% because I care about ethics and to not do so would send a loud and strong message that that isn’t the case.

During the recruiting and hiring process, candidates have told us time and again that our decision not to work with clients for ethical reasons is a major reason they are attracted to working with us. We understand that sometimes this requires us to make decisions that have financial repercussions, but they really aren’t difficult ethical decisions. Staying true to our values is critical to attracting and retaining top talent, building lasting relationships with our clients, and our overall success.

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