Great Workplaces and Great Gals

Great workplaces and great gals: A word from Delaware Today Editor-in-Chief Maria Hess.

I assume you’ve been wondering who that charming woman is on our cover. She’s the lovely Simone Marie George of Wilmington University. The photo session, shot beautifully by Luigi Ciuffetelli and directed by art director Beth Weiss, took several hours, and I’m told that Simone was as gracious as she was professional. But we didn’t choose her solely for her appearance. We chose her because she happens to be director of government relations at Wilmington University, one of the workplaces mentioned in the “Best Places to Work”. We thank Simone, of course, but we’re also grateful to WU’s public relations director Laurie Bick, as well as WU’s kind staff.

You have to be careful about describing a great workplace. That’s why I’m not a fan of website jargon. Marketing writers are hired to craft politically correct verbiage, and to produce flattering information about your company. But if leaders don’t live up to their own PR, then it’s a waste of space—not to mention deceitful to employees. For us to tell you about companies that excel—in terms of employee satisfaction—we clearly needed to get employee perspective. I had no intention of relying on company websites. 

We did this at a risky time.  Moody’s Analytics had concluded that Delaware was the only state in the country still at risk of falling into an economic recession, though Gov. Markell and Alan Levin rightly argued that fact, acknowledging job and business growth with Kraft’s expansion in Dover, and poultry firm Harim’s plan to invest $100 million to reopen a Millsboro plant. And only days after the Moody’s report came out, 16 Delaware firms made it to this year’s Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing privately held companies. 

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We were asking employees to speak candidly, though we could not have predicted the media storm that had ensued.

We released our survey on Facebook and We got some great responses, and some not so great. (There were many returned surveys in which people listed their names and companies, but didn’t bother to answer the questions. Those were disqualified.) 

Managing editor Drew Ostroski chose substantive replies, contacted participants for permission to publish their identities, and compiled the story. We then backed up the survey with a report by Andréa Miller, who found employees at other local companies that have been recognized for their excellent cultures. 

In “All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results,” authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton conducted a study that rendered responses from 303,000 employees. Their conclusion, which I admittedly oversimplify? It’s good to feel valued. But employees need the proper resources and staff to excel. 

On another topic, we mention a noteworthy young lady. Miraclle Shields of Wilmington has created the Mizz. Natural Pageant. This will showcase the talents of girls 13 to 18. They won’t strut the stage in bikinis. They will showcase their skills. The only reason we didn’t do a longer story is because information came to us late. (At press time, the event was slated for November; however, Shields says it may hit the stage this summer.)

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I felt so strongly about Miraclle, and the character it took to embark on such an endeavor, that I wanted to at least bring it to your attention. People like Miraclle will inspire future generations of women. Wouldn’t it be great if girls learned early that true beauty goes beyond bikinis and eye shadow? Maybe, with people like Miraclle around, objectification and prejudice will end, and women will no longer face discriminatory attitudes. 

A recent Gallup poll showed that 15 percent of American women believe they’ve been overlooked for a promotion due to their gender—and worse, denied a raise because they were women. Yet, myriad studies have proved that professional women are collaborative, empathetic and determined—good traits for leaders. 

But wouldn’t it be better to stop comparing women and men, and just hire people based on skill and talent? Maybe Miraclle can shed some light on this.

Enjoy the issue.

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