Crain's 2021 Best-Managed Nonprofits - Judson Center

Crain’s 2021 Best-Managed Nonprofits

Original Article is Posted in Crains Detroit and can be found here:
https://www.crainsdetroit.com/awards/judson-center-inc-2021-best-managed-nonprofit

Chief Operating Officer Susan Salhaney (left), Chief Strategy Officer Khadija Walker-Fobbs, President and CEO Lenora Hardy-Foster, Chief Information Officer Gary Mallia and Senior Director of Human Resources Kenya Martin at Judson Center in Farmington Hills.

Judson Center began looking closely at diversity, equity and inclusion in its operations by doing something any organization can do, President and CEO Lenora Hardy-Foster said.

It listened to its employees.

With a staff of nearly 400 employees, the Farmington Hills-based nonprofit provides foster care and adoption, behavioral and primary health care services, addiction treatment, autism services and vocational services for adults with disabilities across five counties in Southeast Michigan.

It turned to a staff-led committee of 14 employees, 10 of them in front-line positions, who worked with consultants to develop a staff survey to get “boots on the ground” feedback on what it was and wasn’t doing well when it comes to DEI.

Among other questions, the fall 2020 survey asked staff if people of color were represented at all levels in the organization, if they were comfortable talking about their personal cultural experiences and if management demonstrated commitment to meeting the needs of employees with disabilities.

The task force found three common things that staff wanted: DEI training, more acknowledgment of various cultures from management and equitable representation of people of color in management.

In response, Judson launched a 10-part DEI curriculum in April for all staff with webinars that cover topics like implicit and unconscious bias, perceptions and privilege, poverty and the disadvantaged and disability awareness. As of mid-November, it had hosted the first five tracks of staff DEI training, with several board members also attending. It plans to continue the conversation beyond the training by bringing in DEI speakers.

“It has to become part of DNA that we are respecting employees no matter what their differences are, that we are treating people equitably, and that everyone’s voice is being heard.”

Judson developed internal and external statements that speak to its commitment to DEI and a culture calendar, identifying and recognizing holidays celebrated by the various cultures among its staff members, and acknowledging things like LGBTQ and autism awareness in the months they are celebrated. Hardy-Foster also acknowledges those as part of her weekly CEO message to staff.

The nonprofit, which is operating on a $31 million budget for fiscal year 2022, is now in the process of establishing a DEI resource library that will offer podcasts and books to help management and employees learn more about various cultures and ethnicities.

To get a data-based picture of where it stood in terms of equitable racial representation in the organization, Judson ran the numbers: Sixty-two percent of its employees are white, 29 percent are African American and the remaining 8 percent are either two or more races, Asian, Hispanic or Native American. Over a third of its employees are people of color, but just seven — or 18 percent — of its 39 board members are. Less than a third are women.

While roughly a third of its 16 department managers are people of color, all but one of its departmental directors are white.

To help improve equitable representation at all levels, Judson Center plans to launch in early 2022 a program to match senior managers with staff interested in moving up and advertise open positions in newspapers serving minority communities.

“What we’re doing could be replicated (by) any business,” Hardy-Foster said.

“You have to be intentional about it and you have to remain committed. If you don’t do that, it won’t happen .… It has to live in the forefront.”

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