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

Angela Winfield & Lance Lyons standing outside
Publications November 21, 2022

Forging Pathways for the Future: Angela Winfield & Lance Lyons

Giving Voice Fall 2022: Donor Story

Group of teens sitting at a table
Publications November 21, 2022

Adding New Flavor to Grantmaking with Participatory Budgeting

Giving Voice Fall 2022: Granting Matters

Blogs October 29, 2022

Reflections: Creating a Legacy of Equity

Jan Lane, senior philanthropic advisor, explains the ways that leaving a legacy can help you ...

Children standing with paramedic
News Releases September 28, 2022

$240,000 in Grants Awarded to Black-Led Organizations

Seventeen grants from our Black Equity & Excellence Fund totaling $240,000 were distributed to support ...

woman at laptop computer
News Releases September 25, 2022

Community Foundation Bringing Training Platform to Organizations Serving Historically Excluded Communities

This is the first time Resilia’s cutting edge training has been offered in the Central ...

Blogs September 7, 2022

Reflections: Making the Invisible Visible

Minister Mark D. Muhammad, Ed.D. tells his personal story of struggles growing up in Syracuse ...

melanie littlejohn twitter
Topics August 25, 2022

Black Philanthropy Month | Melanie Littlejohn

"As a community leader, I need to ensure that my voice is present and that ...

Central New York Community Foundation at Juneteenth Parade
News Releases August 15, 2022

Black Philanthropy Month | Juneteenth Inc. Receives $2,500 for Festival and Parade

Last month’s Juneteenth parade, a city-wide expression of pride, brought together the Black community in ...

Topics August 15, 2022

Black Philanthropy Month | Martikah S. Williams

"My hope is that more people are drawn to Central New York because of an ...

Angela Winfield & Lance Lyons standing outside
Publications November 21, 2022

Forging Pathways for the Future: Angela Winfield & Lance Lyons

Giving Voice Fall 2022: Donor Story

Group of teens sitting at a table
Publications November 21, 2022

Adding New Flavor to Grantmaking with Participatory Budgeting

Giving Voice Fall 2022: Granting Matters

Blogs October 29, 2022

Reflections: Creating a Legacy of Equity

Jan Lane, senior philanthropic advisor, explains the ways that leaving a legacy can help you ...

Children standing with paramedic
News Releases September 28, 2022

$240,000 in Grants Awarded to Black-Led Organizations

Seventeen grants from our Black Equity & Excellence Fund totaling $240,000 were distributed to support ...

woman at laptop computer
News Releases September 25, 2022

Community Foundation Bringing Training Platform to Organizations Serving Historically Excluded Communities

This is the first time Resilia’s cutting edge training has been offered in the Central ...

Blogs September 7, 2022

Reflections: Making the Invisible Visible

Minister Mark D. Muhammad, Ed.D. tells his personal story of struggles growing up in Syracuse ...

melanie littlejohn twitter
Topics August 25, 2022

Black Philanthropy Month | Melanie Littlejohn

"As a community leader, I need to ensure that my voice is present and that ...

Central New York Community Foundation at Juneteenth Parade
News Releases August 15, 2022

Black Philanthropy Month | Juneteenth Inc. Receives $2,500 for Festival and Parade

Last month’s Juneteenth parade, a city-wide expression of pride, brought together the Black community in ...

Topics August 15, 2022

Black Philanthropy Month | Martikah S. Williams

"My hope is that more people are drawn to Central New York because of an ...

View More