The Sizzle of Stability

A former staff member was opposed to any reference in our printed materials about our staff. She thought it would draw too much attention away from our message and give a negative impression if the community knew who and how many staff are on board. Luckily I felt otherwise after we tried her way for awhile.

Transparency and building trust with our many audiences are the building blocks for this Foundation. After all we are asking donors and prospective donors to believe in the future and to believe in our ability - both volunteers and staff - to follow and in fact create best practices as we grow and safeguard their investments in the Community Foundation. How else can this be done than to talk about the strengths and qualities of this phenomenal staff team?

We have worked very deliberately to create a positive working environment and frankly that hasn't always been the case which is why I am absolutely committed to keep lines of communication open, to listen carefully and for understanding yet produce the structure where our work is foremost with an understanding of the importance of family life and work balance.

I have been working alongside great staff teams on various activities to infuse in our environment action steps that involve inclusion and embracing difference. One of our teams calls themselves the "Culture Club" and they have created an ongoing list of events to engage us in understanding and experiencing the multitude of cultures throughout the metro Grand Rapids area. We have been steeped in cultural competencies efforts for more than three years. What has happened is that over time we have become a group of people who have come together in a more meaningful way.

On March 16th the Grand Rapids Community Foundation will be honored by the Women's Resource Center as one of the organizations/businesses receiving the Huntington Bank sponsored "Pillar Awards" highlighting West Michigan employers who empower women in their workforce with progressive policies and practices. Thank you to the Women's Resource Center and to Huntington Bank - we are all so humbled and proud to be given this award! Thank you as well to Craig Clark of Clark Communications for nominating the Foundation.

The Women's Resource Center notes: "The "Foundation for Grand Rapids", the GRCF is a wonderful example of a smaller organization - with just 23 employees, only one of whom is male - that integrates progressive, woman-empowering policies in a more informal fashion. They have built a collaborative, supportive culture (with no turnover in three years!) from the ground up.

They offer flexible work schedules, allow staff to volunteer or take time for personal errands as needed, and connect to their computers remotely. Many take advantage of GRCF's tuition reimbursement benefit to advance their educations.

When they moved to their new offices on Oakes Street, staff intentionally designed a dedicated kids' room for those times staff need to bring their children along to work for the day. It's stocked with toys, books, and technology to keep toddlers to teens (and tweens, too) happily occupied."

While I can hear some note that "if an organization only has one male on their staff and the rest are females, it would be easy to win that award!" Not so! This was a good challenge for us and we worked hard to demonstrate to a review panel that we are worthy of this wonderful honor.

I have heard the criticism about having a virtually all female staff for years. Lest you think that our sole male staff member is to be pitied, think again. It is not by design that we have so many females on our staff. We hire the best and the brightest talent that our area has to offer! And we are a professional, dynamic and forward looking staff. To empower our staff is the smartest thing I can do and I honor the intelligence, creativity and integrity that this group demonstrates each and every day. Not only do we embrace difference but we encourage innovation . No group think exists here even though we have a stable work force!

Think stability doesn't sizzle? Think again. We are on the move to address our area's most difficult issues and problems, to enrich the lives of all people and to provide the resources to keep our community growing and strong!