Tara Holeman ’88 has made a business out of doing what’s right. Her work as a corporate responsibility professional has taken her all over the world in a variety of roles.
She has spent years as a factory social responsibility auditor and trainer in the Americas and Asia. She advised the development of labor and human rights standards in the electronics, consumer goods and agriculture sectors. She has worked to bring together governments, global brands, factory owners, civil society, unions and workers to improve working conditions in the garment industry. In 2001, she opened an office in Hong Kong for Business for Social Responsibility, the agency’s first offshore office.
“My career reinforces that we have to be responsible to a global community. If there is something I can change, that is my role,” said Holeman.
In 2017, Holeman founded her own advisory firm, Ethos Matters.
“About three years ago, I began looking for more work/life balance,” said Holeman.
With a young son, she felt the need to take control of her work process. She teamed up with a friend and business associate to form Ethos Matters, a consulting firm with the mission of respecting human rights and driving good environmental, social and governance practices. Their firm brings together experts who can tackle any environmental, social or governance challenge a client may face.
Holeman has found that corporate responsibility is good for business. Companies committed to good practices win consumers, brand loyalty, employee engagement, committed shareholders and moral authority. Her clients include Adidas, Gap, Reebok, Oxfam, Thomson Reuters, Produce Marketing Association and the United Fresh Produce Association.
Coming out of Marian, Holeman had developed an interest in human rights. This interest was further fostered as a student at Stanford University. Holeman spent a semester abroad in Chile two weeks after the installation of an elected president following dictatorship. She recalls there was a lot of social friction and fear, and the experience fueled her interest in protecting human rights.
By the mid-90s, she was completing a master’s degree in international human rights law at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, as concern for human rights was garnering corporate attention.
Holeman also credits Marian with providing a foundation of community and connection with emotional and spiritual support at key developmental milestones.
“Immediately after leaving Marian, I had more willingness to participate as a leader. Women had to step up at Marian, and Marian gave me confidence in that role,” Holeman said.
She offers this advice to Marian girls, “By developing your language, communication and reasoning skills, you can be ready for any future. The Marian can-do spirit is essential – we have a problem and we have to figure it out. Marian excels at preparing critical and caring thinkers and that will inspire humane and successful business.”
Holeman lives in Virginia with her husband, Erik Kawasaki, and their six-year-old son, Adam.