“Our firm loves competition,” laughs Mary Ellen Conroy, a Partner and Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee at Cipriani & Werner.
When Mary Ellen and the rest of the DEI Committee were looking for a new initiative, they knew they’d make it competitive.
“Walking was one of our previous wellness challenges that went over extremely well,” says E.J. Fetsick, the firm’s human resources manager, who is also on the DEI Committee. “We wanted to do a wellness initiative and a DEI initiative. Charity Miles was just a great platform that combined the two initiatives we wanted to do, all for a great cause.”
In summer 2021, they divided the firm into teams based on location. The teams competed to see which could run, walk, or bike the most miles.
The winners got a DEI award given in memory of a Cipriani & Werner attorney who passed away two years ago.
“He did a tremendous amount of work for children who had paralysis issues,” says Mary Ellen. “When the members of the firm knew the award was being given in his memory, it really motivated them to become active in the program.”
“Our employees also appreciated not only having the internal competition and the award, but getting to select a charity they had a personal connection with,” adds E.J. “The feedback that I sometimes heard was ‘I can't pick just one!’” Fortunately, team members could switch charities every month.
The most popular organizations among the Cipriani & Werner team were St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Fighting Blindness, and the Susan G. Komen foundation.
The winning team, which was made of two offices in New Jersey combined, chose to give an extra donation to Susan G. Komen as well.
Mary Ellen appreciated that the initiative helped employees spend quality time with their families.
“It was a family oriented event,” says Mary Ellen. “When everyone went out to ride their bikes, walk, or run, for the most part, they didn’t go alone. They brought their family members or friends. People who were working remotely would take the kids out at night and go bike riding.”
Employees who could work from the office also enjoyed walking together over breaks.
“At my location, we have a walking trail outside the office,” says Mary Ellen. “I would see people outside walking in groups a couple times a day.”
Employees enjoyed the competition, and Mary Ellen and E.J. hope to organize a similar one in the spring.
“Everyone liked the fact that they were doing something for a good cause,” says Mary Ellen. “And they just liked the competition. It's good for the firm. It brings people together.”