- Founder McKensie Mack launched a firm to push HR to "be completely undone and rebuilt."
- This year, they introduced a month-long sabbatical for all employees to rest and reflect.
- As a Black, nonbinary person, Mack said they were not surprised by the impacts of the pandemic.
- This article is part of Most Innovative HR Leaders, a series about talent heads who are innovating company culture, DEI, and employee experience.
McKensie Mack has a profound understanding of organizational power and transformation.
Mack is a Black, nonbinary, queer, trilingual organizer based in Chicago, and they founded MMG, a research and change management firm that currently has 20 employees, most of whom are Black. Mack was also recently named one of Insider's 2022 HR Innovators.
Founded in 2012, MMG provides consulting, executive coaching, training, and equity audits that share quantitative and qualitative assessments of anti-racism and social justice work at a company. Mack described a company that started with just them and grew to a firm landing seven-figure, multi-year contracts.
"As people working to reinvent the workplace as we know it, we have always pushed for HR to be completely undone and rebuilt again," Mack told Insider. "We need HR teams who are trauma-informed and educated on the ways bias manifests individually, interpersonally, and systemically."
As an HR Innovator, Mack sits alongside leaders at Fortune 500 companies like Realogy, Adobe, and Meta. Going into another year of uncertainty and loss with the pandemic, companies and experts theorized about how this collective trauma would impact the future of work.
But as other companies and experts pondered solutions like a four-day workweek or more access to mental health resources, Mack put these ideas into practice in their small firm. This year, they launched a 30-day paid sabbatical for all 20 employees at MMG and permanently made the company's full-time workweek 30 hours.
Mack said they budgeted the sabbatical like any other business expense. The firm has enough high-paying contracts to take a month off, and clients know about the break and schedule around it. Most of the team takes sabbatical at the same time, Mack said, while a small staff keeps administrative functions covered and chooses a break later in the year.
Mack added that the company shares resources, readings, and reflections during the month away for guidance if people want it.
When employees returned, Mack led a team-building workshop to process the impact from the time away and reimagine goals and support for the next year. After the success of the sabbatical, MMG has committed to continuing the program again in 2022.
"What kind of world could we create if we treated rest and well-being with as much care as we pay business taxes or keep lawyers on retainer?" they said.
In previous interviews with Insider, Mack spoke to their cutting-edge work during the pandemic.
They stressed that the trauma that emerged in many workplaces during the pandemic was not a surprise to them as a Black, nonbinary person. As other companies scrambled to create policies to combat the Great Resignation and push forward diversity and inclusion, MMG was already a leader when it came to supporting employees with marginalized identities.
"We center organizational justice and belonging in everything that we do," Mack said. "We focus on hiring, developing, and retaining Black and Brown, LGBTQIA+, disabled folks, and more who are not typically afforded opportunities to grow and develop and to pursue their interests."
Anna Chapman, head of people and projects at MMG, nominated Mack for the HR Innovators List, and she described their approach as intuitive and empathetic. Though Mack's approaches may be radical, Chapman said they leave no one behind.
"MMG is truly one of the most liberating places I have ever worked," Chapman said. "The model that McKensie created could be a game-changer for this industry."