Reflections: Cultivating Diversity in the Workplace

Kimberly Sadowski, senior vice president & chief financial officer, walks us through how the Community Foundation is working to encourage diversity and belonging in the workplace.

Reflections: Our Personal & Professional Efforts Toward Racial Equity is a monthly blog. Each month, a member of our staff will reflect on what they are doing either personally or professionally to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in our work. View more


Up until the time I started working at the Community Foundation in April 2016, racial equity had not been part of the conversations I was having in the workplace. Disability rights, independent living, and mental health were my focus for many years. Then I had the opportunity to work for a nonprofit that supports a wide variety of organizations serving our community. That was when discussions around the struggles of historically excluded populations became part of my everyday.

It was only a few months into my time at the Community Foundation when we hired a Black woman to work on our Community Investment team. Prior to her hire, it did not occur to me that our staff was racially homogenous at that point in time. As a White woman, the racial make-up of an employer was never a deciding factor for whether or not I would apply to or work for a particular organization. Coming out of my conversations with her and other people of color on staff and in external organizations, I realized that the staff list on our website and our representation in the community didn’t portray a place that was representative of all, nor did we appear to be a place where people of color could come to work and feel welcomed and included.

Since that time, we have worked to make the Community Foundation more welcoming to people of all races. One way we are doing that is through a concerted effort to further diversify our staff. As a result of trainings, conversations with peers, friends and co-workers of color, and researching best practices, we have made great strides to improve inclusion and equity. Currently, approximately 30% of our staff is comprised of people of color.

We have made many changes to become an inclusive employer of choice. One way we are doing that is by eliminating higher education and reliable transportation requirements for almost all positions. When we have a position opening, we reach out to include organizations that serve, and individuals that are connected to, diverse populations. We also require all staff members to take the Intercultural Development Inventory® and encourage them to work on an Intercultural Development Plan.

Staff members have also participated in a variety of trainings by local and national leaders around racial equity and our management and leadership teams have further participated in advanced sessions. One of the outcomes of the training was the creation of an equity resource group that allows staff at all levels to volunteer, on an as-needed basis, to review any new or revised policies through an equity lens, thereby giving voice to anyone willing to provide it.

To keep these topics top-of-mind, we host an annual book read that allows staff to recommend and subsequently decide on a book to read that focuses on furthering their knowledge on equity. This year, we are reading The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee. We also added Juneteenth as an observed holiday and provide two floating holidays specifically to be used for holidays that the Community Foundation doesn’t observe. And a much appreciated change to our culture was the relaxation of our dress code to allow for more casual and comfortable attire all week long.

While we recognize we have a long way to go, I am confident that our dedicated staff and racial equity focus will help us to take further steps toward making the Community Foundation an employer where everyone feels accepted, included and loved.

Related Stories

Man and woman stand together
Stories February 12, 2024

Giving Perspectives: Susan & Michael Meath

The Community Foundation’s 5forCNY initiative, which invites community members to give back to the region ...

Artwork
Blogs December 27, 2023

Everson Museum Highlights Local Indigenous Artist

In July, the Everson hosted Frank Buffalo Hyde’s first solo exhibit in New York State, ...

Two people sit at a table with laptops talking.
News Releases December 4, 2023

Community Foundation Bringing Training Platform to Organizations Serving Historically Excluded Communities

State-of-the-art resources and one-on-one coaching are being offered to 17 organizations that are primarily serving ...

Man reading with young boy
Blogs December 4, 2023

Providing an Extra Boost to Help Students Thrive

Mike Nash, president at KS&R and Book Buddies Volunteer, shares how he saw the positive ...

collage of pictures of young girls doing art
News Releases October 30, 2023

More than $235,000 in Grants Awarded to Black-Led Organizations

Seventeen Black Equity & Excellence Fun grants, totaling $238,200, distributed to Black-led organizations.

Man standing in front of library
Blogs October 17, 2023

Fostering Grassroots Change through The Leadership Classroom

Jacob Gedetsis, founder and director of Write Out and lecturer and coordinator of the Writing ...

Blogs October 8, 2023

Reflections: A Data-Driven Approach for Equity

Frank Ridzi tells us about a new racial equity section on CNY Vitals, our 'state ...

Blogs September 15, 2023

Reflections: Continued Learning for Equity/Reflexiones: Aprendizaje Continuo para la Equidad

Yeisha Núñez-Denson, tells us about her experience joining our efforts toward an equitable internal work ...

Woman sitting with girl holding books
Blogs August 21, 2023

Unlocking Potential through Reading as A Book Buddy Volunteer

Juliet Nabinger, employee benefits senior specialist at OneGroup and Book Buddies Volunteer, shares how her ...

Man and woman stand together
Stories February 12, 2024

Giving Perspectives: Susan & Michael Meath

The Community Foundation’s 5forCNY initiative, which invites community members to give back to the region ...

Artwork
Blogs December 27, 2023

Everson Museum Highlights Local Indigenous Artist

In July, the Everson hosted Frank Buffalo Hyde’s first solo exhibit in New York State, ...

Two people sit at a table with laptops talking.
News Releases December 4, 2023

Community Foundation Bringing Training Platform to Organizations Serving Historically Excluded Communities

State-of-the-art resources and one-on-one coaching are being offered to 17 organizations that are primarily serving ...

Man reading with young boy
Blogs December 4, 2023

Providing an Extra Boost to Help Students Thrive

Mike Nash, president at KS&R and Book Buddies Volunteer, shares how he saw the positive ...

collage of pictures of young girls doing art
News Releases October 30, 2023

More than $235,000 in Grants Awarded to Black-Led Organizations

Seventeen Black Equity & Excellence Fun grants, totaling $238,200, distributed to Black-led organizations.

Man standing in front of library
Blogs October 17, 2023

Fostering Grassroots Change through The Leadership Classroom

Jacob Gedetsis, founder and director of Write Out and lecturer and coordinator of the Writing ...

Blogs October 8, 2023

Reflections: A Data-Driven Approach for Equity

Frank Ridzi tells us about a new racial equity section on CNY Vitals, our 'state ...

Blogs September 15, 2023

Reflections: Continued Learning for Equity/Reflexiones: Aprendizaje Continuo para la Equidad

Yeisha Núñez-Denson, tells us about her experience joining our efforts toward an equitable internal work ...

Woman sitting with girl holding books
Blogs August 21, 2023

Unlocking Potential through Reading as A Book Buddy Volunteer

Juliet Nabinger, employee benefits senior specialist at OneGroup and Book Buddies Volunteer, shares how her ...

View More