Why We JUST Did It
If you’ve perused our new website, you might have seen that VIA recently obtained a JUST 2.0 Label. This label is more than a sticker to post on our website; its transparent organizational change and betterment. VIA’s brand “refresh” that came along with our move to The Essex enticed us to find an avenue to broadcast what we felt we were already doing well, but also make positive changes for our staff and the community that surrounds us. The JUST 2.0 Label provides us the opportunity to do that.
Designed graphically as a “nutrition” label, the JUST 2.0 Label has six indicators targeted towards areas of social justice and equity. These categories are Diversity and Inclusion, Equity, Employee Health, Employee Benefit, Stewardship, and Purchasing. Of each category, organizations are scored on scales from 1 to 4 based on how their policies match up to the policies outlined by the JUST 2.0 Manual. By registering and participating in this voluntary disclosure platform, VIA committed to elevate the discussion around social justice concerns, improve HR policies, and make life better for our employees. As early adopters of JUST 2.0, VIA is currently one of 40+ organizations to proudly showcase a JUST 2.0 Label. It’s worth taking a look at even if you don’t think your organization is ready to register and complete the necessary documentation. The Manual provides great insight as to why they’ve included specific indicators and policies, which could help jump-start changes for internal policy betterment.
Once we knew our “why”, which was to help promote and create social change for our employees and others through a transparent platform that promotes conversation about tough topics, we were ready to start the JUST 2.0 Label process. Our benchmark “where we were” label was discouraging. We felt that we were doing and promoting a number of the indicators, but realized that we had never found a way to make it public knowledge. Through multiple workshops led by our Operations Director with VIA’s Leadership, VIA used the JUST 2.0 indicators as a roadmap to redesign our Employee Handbook and exceeded expectations for what eventually became our official JUST 2.0 Label.
Raising the Bar
After deciding which policy changes we were enhancing or creating, all of our policies and supporting data had to be uploaded to the JUST 2.0 portal. Once the portal was completely populated, we paid our registration fee, which is based on the size of the organization, and submitted our data to the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). ILFI then reviewed our policies and compared them to the JUST 2.0 . The review process was streamlined and informational, allowing us to provide more data and backup where needed. Once agreed upon, our Label was published and ready for use!
- 8 hours of paid time off for volunteering each year
- 8 hours of paid time off for continuing education
- $500 annual continuing education stipend
- Gender Pay Equity
- Living Wage as compared to our headquarters in Norfolk, VA
- Well-Being activities and benefits available to all employees
As previously mentioned, VIA was committed to many of the indicators included in JUST 2.0 before beginning this journey. Policies that remained the same, but gained more structure through this process were:
- VIA commits to Ethnic and Gender Diversity efforts to provide enhanced collaboration and innovation to our workforce
- Inclusion of all employees and office visitors to help them feel welcomed with a safe, warm, and supporting environment
- Full-Time Employment
- Employee Healthcare and Benefits available to all employees
- Employee and Employer 401K Retirement Plan Contributions
- Family/Medical Leave available through Parental Leave and Paid Time Off benefits
- Charitable Giving, gifting .25 percent of gross sales annually
- Equitable Purchasing of independent, local owned and operating businesses
Since obtaining our JUST 2.0 Label, we have been able to discuss the policies included internally with staff members, use it as a recruiting tool, mention it during project pursuits, publish it to our social media channels, and start conversations with other local professionals committed to similar social responsibility goals. Just sticking a label on your website and social media platforms is one thing, but the changes and conversations that comes from social and equitable transparency is much greater for the good of your organization and employees.
If you have any questions or are looking for assistance in getting started on your JUST 2.0 Label, contact Blair Horth, VIA’s Operations Director, who led us through this process.