In June, the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner issued a public report with a number of recommendations to improve the workplace environment at SVCF. Since that time, the board and staff have worked together to make significant progress on these recommendations with the aim of making the greatest positive impact on our culture and building better relationships with our community.
The establishment of the Board Implementation Committee was one of the first actions taken to address the recommendations provided by BSF. The committee, comprised of five board members, meets weekly in joint sessions with SVCF senior staff. Collectively, we identified four areas of focus for our work:
- Reviewing and updating SVCF policies and procedures impacting workplace culture, including mechanisms to regularly collect employee feedback.
- Improving mechanisms for reporting and addressing workplace misconduct.
- Creating more effective board governance.
- Facilitating Board engagement and involvement in the SVCF workplace.
In addition, SVCF’s Interim President, Greg Avis, and staff created the Culture Task Force in July to help catalyze employee engagement at all levels in solutions to improve organizational culture. The task force meets weekly, and through four committees – Values, Jump Start (short-term actions aimed at improving culture), Operating Norms, and Behaviors – has made numerous recommendations that have been approved by the Leadership Team. Among them: undertaking a compensation study, reviewing volunteer time-off policies, and exploring 360-degree performance reviews. The Values committee has led a very thoughtful and rigorous process to engage the staff and board in an examination and rebirth of SVCF values, and has worked to ensure that these values are fully incorporated in both internal and external activities. Also, staff has formed an Art Committee to bring works by local artists into SVCF offices and engage staff in cross-departmental collaboration. If you visit our offices, the results are visible!
In September, the management team implemented an organizational change that created a new division, Philanthropic Services, headed by Misti Sangani, that, among other responsibilities, houses development and donor engagement in one division. Other moves included having the human resources and marketing departments report directly to the president.
At the board level, we have seen broader board engagement and attendance at internal events. We speak for the whole board when we say that creating more direct relationships internally will be paramount to our success. We also helped establish a separate board committee to focus on talent and culture, including on professional development and management training, as well as facilitating engagement between the SVCF leadership team and full staff.
Meanwhile, SVCF’s financial position is strong, and there have been no issues related to financial impropriety of any kind. We received a clean opinion from our auditors, Moss Adams.
While we are proud of the progress we have made, we know there is more work to do to ensure we learn from our challenges and emerge as a stronger institution. We will continue to share progress updates with the community as our journey continues.