OUR Improvements

Our culture

Material Innovation Initiative is committed to a just, humane, and equitable world for all beings. Learn more about the improvements made and the improvements to still be made in our company culture.

Improvements To Be Made

We aren’t perfect. We are always seeking to improve. This is what we are currently working on:

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB).

We don’t expect DEIB to ever come off this list. We will continue to grow and learn how we can do and be better. We are currently focused on ensuring we have a diverse team, that everyone feels comfortable being their authentic selves, and every team member feels able and supported in voicing their opinions and thoughts.

We recognize that sometimes setting out our values don’’t provide sufficient detail for day-to-day interactions. We also recognize that sometimes our values can have a perceived conflict, e.g., although we value all team members raising concerns, we also defer to the experts on the team. We have created a Behaviors document, showing how we expect our values to play out in our interactions and we continuously add to the document.

 Increasing pay and benefits for every team member.

MII appreciates all the hard work of our team members and we want to ensure their compensation conveys this. We are currently operating on an incredibly tight budget. We have built-in steady pay raises and increased benefits as our budget grows and we share this freely with all potential candidates and existing team members.

Revised recruitment process.

As we think about how we can be more equitable and inclusive, we are thinking through improvements to our recruitment process. Our existing system includes anonymizing applications to avoid any implicit bias. Currently, we redact names, gender, geography, any mention of religious affiliations, and the names of educational institutions. This will also be adopted into our new recruitment process.

Often it is hard to understand a candidate’s qualifications from their cover letter and resume alone. We also recognize that not all candidates have had training in how to write a cover letter but they might be great fits for the position. We are revising our recruitment process to include a few targeted questions rather than requiring a cover letter and looking at our recruitment process in general.

Resources Library.

We understand starting a nonprofit is a lot of work; so is operating one. We are building a Resources Library in hopes it saves other organizations time and headaches in drafting policies, resources, and organizational documents. These can be used in whole or in part. We believe community makes change faster than any one individual. We hope this helps strengthen our community.

Areas we improved

We aren’t perfect. We are always seeking to improve. This is what we are currently working on:

Paying Our Interns.

When we started our intern program in the summer of 2020, we only had the budget for 1.5 FTE so we did not pay our interns. We took on unpaid interns that summer and in every subsequent semester through the summer of 2021. Since we didn’t have the budget to pay them, we offered them significant training, access to our staff, and access to our extended network. We even helped some of them get jobs after graduation. There is significant literature on why having unpaid interns is an equity issue as not everyone is able to afford to work in an unpaid position, even if they are receiving college credits for their work (source and source). After the completion of the summer 2021 intern program, we provided our unpaid summer 2021 interns a very small stipend. We have budgeted to give future interns a more reasonable stipend in our Fall 2021 class.

REGULAR CHECK-INS WITH EACH TEAM MEMBER.

MII believes we owe it to our team to ensure the work they do is in line with their job description, allows them to have work-life balance, and that each and every member feels supported in their role and in the organization. Our Human Resources department now meets at least quarterly with each team member to discuss any issues with their job, their work, their hours, their work relationships, or any other concern.

ANONYMIZED RECRUITMENT.

Before we hired our Chief Operations Officer, we asked job applicants to use a written interview to avoid the hiring team’s implicit biases. However, we recognized there was still scope to discriminate when we were reviewing cover letters and resumes in the first instance, based on names, geography, or other personally identifying information candidates may submit. Now, our COO redacts identifying candidate information before sending applications for review to the relevant hiring department. Only our COO knows the identity of candidates during the review of applications and the first interview process, allowing those making the hiring decisions to recruit based solely on experience and other relevant factors.

CLOSING THE GAP IN THE HIGHEST AND LOWEST SALARIES.

We recently increased the salaries of our U.S. employees and have shifted the Tier 1 salaries in our Compensation Philosophy to close the gap between the lowest and the highest-paid staff members.

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