Business Smart: Reidsville Chamber of Commerce

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Established in 1914 by community business leaders, the Reidsville Chamber of Commerce challenges itself to continue to evolve and provide employees with family-forward benefits, with the understanding that salary alone in a small nonprofit is not enough to retain top talent.

Diane Ramey Sawyer, president and CEO of the Reidsville Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, played a significant role in the Chamber’s evolution.

Diane and family.

When she started in 2011, Diane was 12 weeks postpartum with her first child. At that time, the Chamber offered a non-substantial amount of money to its employees for health insurance. But she questioned the Chamber, “How can we do better?”

The Chamber then evolved to offer employees paid vacation days and paid sick time, but no set short-term disability options for employees for major life events. When Diane became pregnant with her second child in 2013, she again questioned policies.

With two full-time employees on staff and a forward-thinking Board, the team came up with the idea to self-insure the organization. The new benefit stated that for any short-term disability, an employee would continue to receive their full pay for up to 12 weeks at no additional cost to the Chamber.

“Since the Chamber implemented the new short-term disability policy in 2013, employees have used it for three births, cancer surgery and a stomach procedure. We needed to offer this new policy so employees could feel valued and appreciated and also so they can be with their families during important life events without the worry of pay,” Diane says. “Also, we encourage Chamber members to be family-forward within their businesses, so it was important for us to run our organization like that as well.”

Diane and the Chamber encourage employees to use their family-forward benefits. In addition to short-term disability, the Chamber also provides a comfortable environment for new mothers to pump, store breast milk, and breastfeed, should their baby be in the office with them.

“At the end of the day, we try to be as flexible as possible with our employees. There are always going to be personal appointments, kid functions, and family commitments. And employees are happier overall when they feel empowered in their personal lives as well,” Diane explains.

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