COVENANT EYES IN OWOSSO, which was founded in 2000 by Ron DeHaas, annually hosts a Marmot Day celebration, which doubles as a family retreat for the company’s employees and their family members. The annual celebrations, which dates back to 2002, used to be held on the company’s property but were recently moved to McCurdy Park in Corunna to accommodate the company’s ever-expanding group of employees.
DeHaas can be seen leading the traditional marmot deliberation in 2018. The holiday is similar to Groundhog Day but is held on
July 25. For the deliberation, the marmot is placed outside its burrow, and if he or she enters its burrow, summer is over. If the marmot does not return to its burrow, however, that signifies one more month of summer.
(Independent File Photo/Graham Sturgeon)
by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
Earlier this year, on March 30, Covenant Eyes turned 20 years old. The Owosso-based internet accountability company and its 200-plus employees keep more than 300,000 families porn-free in 150-plus countries across the globe.
Covenant Eyes founder and president Ron DeHass created the company back in 2000, as the internet was becoming more widely used in private homes. When he started the company, DeHaas realized that filters were just not enough to protect his two teenage sons from the dangers of the internet. He knew that pornography had the potential to destroy millions of families across the world, and he believed there needed to be some sort of accountability to protect both his teenagers, and the rest of the globe.
“Approximately 70 percent of men in our country struggle with issues related to pornography, and that number is growing among women, as well,” shared DeHaas. “It starts at a young age. The average age a person is first exposed to pornography is 11 years old, so for those people, pornography is their sex training, their sex education. There is some form of violence in 80 percent of porn, so for boys, they are learning, in a sexual relationship, violence is OK. And girls are learning that violence against them is OK; it’s what is expected of them. Cumulatively, we haven’t paid the price for that, but we will.”
The secret to Covenant Eyes’ success is its internet accountability program, which dissuades the use of pornography rather than blocking it. If a young person wants to view pornography, a filter only goes so far in blocking access. DeHass and Covenant Eyes have found that holding users accountable is a far more successful deterrent.
“Our goal is not to block pornography,” explained DeHaas. “We have a very good filter, but our main goal is to provide a means for behavioral change.
“The average length of a porn viewing incident is generally at least several minutes, and in some cases, hours,” DeHaas continued. “For Covenant Eyes users who make the decision to view pornography, the median viewing time per incident is 21 seconds, which means that more than half of Covenant Eyes users that decide to view pornography, turn it off within 21 seconds. They realize that they are being held accountable, and accountability works.”
While the software’s efficacy is a primary reason for Covenant Eyes’ success, DeHaas also places a big emphasis on fostering a positive employee culture.
“Culture is by far the most important measure of a company’s success,” DeHaas noted. “People like to come to work for Covenant Eyes. They’re paid well, we have great benefits, but most of all, our employees know that they have a mission, and it’s an important mission. I don’t think of them as employees; they’re friends, they’re companions, they’re co-workers.