ETHICAL STORYTELLING

Ethical storytelling services for public and private sector organizations

We believe in treating the stories of marginalized folks and nuanced topics with great care, especially in public focused communication. Exploitive storytelling damages people, communities, movements, and brands.

Ethical storytelling is a process that builds effective, safe, and dignified stories.

We equip organizations to share stories responsibly, invest in first person storytellers, and decrease the use of harmful storytelling approaches, such as trauma pornography and hero theft.

LARISSA MAXWELL, CEO, MAXWELL CONSULTING GROUP

WHAT IS AN ETHICAL STORY?

  • Ethical stories are honest without being graphic or exploitive
  • Are educational and well researched
  • Have informed and living consent
  • Inspire engagement, not shock
  • Result in responsible action
  • Oh! And they safely deliver your intended purpose!

WHAT IS UNETHICAL STORYTELLING?

Unethical storytelling neglects to think critically and design storytelling processes ethically, and may use some of these tactics;

  • Coerced Advocacy: irresponsibly using persons with lived experiences to become the “face” of an issue, which causes significant personal risk, and is often paired with labour exploitation

  • Hero Theft: when a second party storyteller robs the narrative of a first person storyteller, painting themselves as the hero of the story

  • Trauma Pornography/Trauma Tourism: requiring storytellers to perform an emotional striptease that results in psychological damage and voyeuristic consumption

  • Slactivism: neglecting to adequately research and engage meaningful action on a complex issue, and instead sharing a hollow caricature that reads as inauthentic and virtue signalling

  • Greenwashing, Pinkwashing, Queerwashing: irresponsibly using a significant issue (such as environmental protection or 2SLGBTQAI+ rights) to boost an organization’s image

  • Time Dishonesty: forcing the timeline of an issue or story to a resolution in an attempt to ease the consumer, which promotes false narratives

  • Irresponsible Consumption: ignoring responsibility about how our stories are consumed and engaging responsible calls to action, leading to complacent, irresponsible, and even harmful actions by consumers

SERVICES FOR ORGANIZATIONS: DEVELOP AND TELL ETHICAL STORIES

We are passionate to build powerful, authentic, and ethical stories in public and private sector organizations. Explore our services below;

ETHICAL STORYTELLING STANDARDS

What is your organization’s approach to storytelling? We build comprehensive approaches that help you tell effective and safe stories.

Establish point to point (inception to distribution) ethical storytelling standards that center dignity, inclusion, and powerful communication.

Application and Accountability
Storytelling Values
Types of Stories You Tell
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility
Research
Ethical Recruitment/Treatment
Distribution

STORYTELLING RISK ASSESSMENT

Are you considering telling a story that involves marginalization or sensitive issues? We can help you proactively assess and decrease risk.

Using a signature framework, we will discover and assess risk in the types of stories you want to tell, and develop tangible steps to decrease storytelling risk.

Risk Discovery
Risk Assessment
Risk Ratings
Risk Mitigation

LIVED EXPERIENCE INCLUSION

Who needs to be at the table to tell your story? How can we create an equitable experience? We know how to help you create new, safe tables of inclusion for your projects.

We specialize in designing safe pathways for persons with lived experience to contribute meaningfully to organizational storytelling.

Lived Experience Consultants
Lived Experience Advisory Committees
Accountability and Feedback Loops
Psychosocial Support Plans
Fair Compensation and Employment Structures
Living Consent
Trauma Informed Research and Interviews

FOR INDIVIDUALS: ETHICAL STORYTELLING COACHING AND TRAINING

DEVELOPMENT OF THE STORYTELLER

Have you been approached to share your stories or experiences? Are you wondering how to engage in a way that is safe and makes a difference?

We provide trauma informed, culturally sensitive individual and group training for folks considering engaging in first person storytelling.

Safety Planning
Values Discovery
Communication Strategies
Core Message Development
Negotiations
Wellness Planning
Lived Experience Engagement Opportunities

Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can be used to break the dignity of people, but can also repair that broken identity.

Chimanda Ngozie Adichie