Crossing Cultures for the Common Good

In Evangelical's for Social Action's end-of-year recap, Nikki Toyama-Szeto, Executive Director of ESA, chose to highlight a story written by Dorcas Cheng-Tozun profiling Symphony, a software firm with two offices: one in Sarajevo and one in Belgrade, cities located in two countries with a complicated and violent history. Symphony co-founders, Haris Memic and Muamer Cisija, chose those locations very much on purpose—and with reconciliation in mind.

In her introduction to the article, Toyama-Szeto writes:

"I had heard of reconciliation efforts in the connects of churches, schools and communities but I never heard of an example in business until I saw Dorcas Cheng-Tozun’s article. It is such a compelling picture of a way that someone creatively re-imagined their business, in order to live out these reconciliation values."

Later on in the piece, Cheng-Tozun writes about the approach Memic and Cisija take in managing their two offices:

"Rather than siloing these two offices to avoid potential ethnic conflict, Cisija and Memic intentionally bring their Bosnian and Serbian teams together. They collaborate on the same projects. Employees from one country are regularly sent to work in the other country, facilitating the development of close one-on-one relationships with their colleagues.

'There is a mutual respect and welcoming,' Cisija explained to me. 'They engage as engineers, not based on nationality. They ask, ‘What can we achieve together?'

This kind of collaboration doesn’t happen by accident. Symphony recruits employees who demonstrate empathy and openness; the company promotes a culture of feedback, learning, and growth."

It's a quick read—and a good one. We hope you find it encouraging.

Read the article on ESA.

(And thanks to Tiffanie Chan for sending this my way so I could share it with you!)


Valerie Catrow is the administrator for City Church of Richmond where she has been a member since 2008. She has been part of Common Good RVA since 2014.