Pursuing a company mission to provide expert security services, AGB engages the community–hiring locally, practicing diversity and inclusion, and providing career development opportunities.
Why did I and my husband John name our security services company AGB? It stands for Always Giving Back, the company’s mission to eliminate economic inequities by delivering training and smart security services to protect people, property, and data.
There’s a story behind the name. Driving to work in separate cars, we were both listening to the same radio station and a show with a repeated message: Life is about always giving back. We wanted to start a security firm that would create jobs and meet the needs of those in underserved communities. I got excited and called my husband: “I have a name for the company.”
“I do, too,” John replied. Then we had to catch our breath. We proposed the same name at the same time: Always Giving Back, AGB.
Growing an inspired name into an inspired business based on community engagement, economic development, diversity, and inclusion has meant lots of hard work, learning, and listening. After a decade in business, two basic tenets drive our success—providing career development and resources to underserved communities.
Community Engagement Starts With Career Development
One of AGB’s differentiators is our commitment to constant training. We go above and beyond the state’s requirements because we know that to excel you must put the work in. Our mission to eliminate economic inequities includes training our security officers for the challenges they face. Once we secure contracts in at-risk neighborhoods, we begin to build community relationships that far transcend business as usual. AGB engages the community by hiring locally; practicing diversity and inclusion, and providing career development opportunities.
First, we hire from the community itself. Security employees who work where they live will find more acceptance and less resistance from the people there. But it’s also important that we provide access and career development to people who might not otherwise find opportunity. That includes women: In the male-dominated field of security, more than half of our hires (55%) are female. We’re also proud to say that in 2019, we spent $2.5 million on diverse suppliers, including those certified as minority business enterprises (MBE) and women’s business enterprises (WBE).
Other opportunities are less obvious but still change lives. When we became a government contractor for security services outside the continental U.S., South Side security officers who’d never flown on planes before went to Singapore, Guam, and Hawaii to set up security services there. Diversity and inclusion efforts should provide pathways to career advancement, whether in security services or support roles, Yes, African-Americans can do an outstanding job. They only need the opportunity, the right chance, and proper training.
Meanwhile, our business success allows us to spread hope and healing through the Always Giving Back Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to disrupt the cycle of poverty through workforce development, financial wellness, and philanthropy. We’ve sponsored back-to-school initiatives, turkey drives, and most recently two “Wipe Out COVID” drives. When we learned 60620 was Chicago’s hardest-hit ZIP code for COVID-19 cases, we gave away 500 care packages to the community with food, personal protective equipment, and other essentials.
Minority Scholarships, Internships Inspire Young Adults
Over the last five years, AGB has awarded $55,000 in minority scholarships; we also treasure our internship program for young adults ages 16 to 18 and the support we provide young professionals in presenting an annual panel. My educational background blessed me with the joy of watching students mature into proud, positive, and successful adults. In helping interns grow and develop, we also open the door to a successful career and create a development cycle of inspiring, hiring, and empowering.
But the work remains far from finished. We strive every day to live up to the “always” in Always Giving Back. In October, we moved our headquarters to Chicago’s Auburn-Gresham neighborhood. From the very start, we knew we could not rest on past accomplishments to be a community partner. So we extended a hand of invitation to one of the area’s major nonprofits. We asked, “How we can support your mission?” Our shared goals turned into an inspiring discussion about how we could work together to address community, family engagement, and youth development.
You know now how we got the name AGB. But how do we continue to earn it? Ultimately the communities we serve will provide the best answer. They inspire us to remember that when we approach this work, it’s bigger than us—and not about us.
Denitra Griffin, Ed.D. is the President and Co-Owner of AGB Investigative Services and the Founder/CEO of the Always Giving Back Foundation.