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Thank You to Women at Vinfen Who Transform Lives Together With Us

Bruce BirdAt Vinfen we have always worked to recognize women of incredible talent that have allowed us to become and remain the provider, employer, and partner of choice. As we celebrate International Women’s Day and take stock in how far we’ve come both as a company and a culture, it’s important to acknowledge both the women at Vinfen who help us achieve our mission of transforming lives together, and the fact that the fight for gender equality is ongoing.

Like the vast majority of health and human service organizations across the country, our female staff make up the bulk of our workforce at 61%, and 60% of those women are people of color. Among nonprofits of similar size and scope as Vinfen, women make up only 21% of leadership roles [1]. But unlike our peers, women at Vinfen are predominant at all levels of the organization. Seven out of the 12 members of our Executive Team are women, as are more than 67% of our senior management.

At every corner of Vinfen, you find women going above and beyond to support the people we serve to achieve their dreams. One example of this is Residential Counselor Margaret Kelly, who received the 6th Annual Peer Leadership Award earlier this year for her decade of dedication that has enabled the people she serves to advocate for themselves and connect with their community. In Connecticut, Job Coach Nahkia Williams has made a name for herself as the favorite among people we serve and coworkers. She spends her time out in the community, empowering individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to seek and maintain employment.

Our female program directors lead the way in not only providing the best, most effective and innovative services, but in supporting staff to reach all their educational and professional goals. Nominated by CBFS Team Leader Daniela Carrier, Rehabilitation Coordinator Danisa Batista was awarded the Board of Directors Scholarship this year to support her dream of earning her Masters in Social Work at Boston University.  Meanwhile, Vinfen Director of Support Employment Phoebe Goodman and Senior Program Director Sidney Rives were chosen to participate in the three-year Creating Our Commonwealth initiative, a program for emerging leaders such as themselves to learn about the importance of community inclusion and friendship for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

We’re also incredibly proud to have so many women at Vinfen who are recognized nationally for their tremendous impact in the field. Program Director Janel Tan was honored with Massachusetts Association of Mental Health Special Recognition Awards this year. And in our technology arena, Director of Innovation Elizabeth Cella’s work in creating a Smartphone app that supports the health of individuals with serious mental illness has been recognized at countless conferences nationwide.

Vinfen was proud in 2016 to join over 175 businesses in Greater Boston to sign the Boston Women’s Workforce Council (BWWC) Boston 100% Talent Compact. This partnership between Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Business community pledges us to doing all we can to close the gender wage gap and remove the visible and invisible barriers to women’s advancement. Each year, we also enact an Affirmative Action Plan to ensure that women, minorities, veterans, and people with disabilities are achieving full equality at Vinfen, including hires and promotions.

Last year, nationwide women only made 76 cents for every dollar earned by men [2]. The pay gap is even wider for women of color, and widens further still as women progress in their careers. But at Vinfen, we have made it a priority to reward equal work with equal pay. Women at Vinfen in fact make $1.07 for every dollar earned by their male counterparts.

Still, the fight is not over. True equality is only achieved when the choice between a man and a woman for a job, promotion, or accolade has nothing to do with gender. And in the current political climate, it is more important than ever to do everything we can as individuals and as an organization to support women in all their professional and personal endeavors. Vinfen will always stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the women who have made us great. And in 2017, we are more aware of and supportive of the fact that every leadership role at Vinfen, including my own, could be filled by the smart, capable, and compassionate women who will be leading our organization into the future.