December 22, 2014 by Debra Gittler


Last week I wrote about the challenges of deciding when, how and why to scale. I wrote about ConTextos’—and my own— commitment to outcomes, not just reach.

Of course, there is also a commitment to staff members. At ConTextos, we are deeply committed to the on-going professional development of our staff. We want to be an organization that strengthens staff capacity, and inspires passion. Rather than grow our staff in numbers, we want them to grow in capacity.

The board and I decided from day one that ConTextos would provide full benefits to our staff. ConTextos would be a wonderful place to work, where employees could shine personally and professionally, where each individual would be treated fairly as an active team member.

So what do you do when Insurance rejects an employee?

That’s our current struggle. A pre-existing condition makes local health insurance unavailable for an employee and as a result, we also can’t provide insurance for his child.

So we sought international coverage. The problem, though, is that the cost is three times that of our most expensive employee. In other words, it’s out of our budget.

So we decided that ConTextos would commit to paying the high end of our budget and offer the employee the opportunity to pay the difference, a small amount when broken down by month, but still a significant chunk of his paycheck.

The advantage to El Salvador versus the United States is that here, there’s public health care. It might not always be excellent, but free health care is available. The options are limited and the quality might be limited, but access exists. If something catastrophic happens, you certainly wouldn’t want to have to rely upon it.

The employee decided to forego insurance. I know that we’ve done our best, provided better and more options than most employers. We did the best we could…

Each time I think we’ve made a decision, figured out a routing, established precedence, a new doozy sneaks up. Building culture never stops.

Even without growing bigger, we never stop growing.

Debra Gittler
Founder and Executive Director

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