CEO Who Saved Jobs
In a year of devastating budget cuts with thousands losing their jobs around the country, Paul Levy, CEO of Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, was faced with the painful prospect of cutting 600 jobs due to budget shortfalls.
But Levy, 59, went a different route. He involved the entire hospital staff in brainstorming ways to avoid layoffs. "You should trust the people you work with because they care about the place and they care about one another. So why not trust them to come up with approaches that make it better?" he told Ode Magazine.
"I knew it would be very hard for people to find new jobs and I did not want to put them through that," Levy told Beliefnet. "So I immediately started thinking if everybody in the organization makes a small sacrifice, we can save these jobs. And that led to the next question: how can we make that happen?"
It happened in "town meetings" where skilled employees--doctors, nurses, accountants--came up with a plan to cut their own salaries and benefits so that low-wage workers might be spared. Many of these were struggling immigrants, and others had a spouse already out of work. Setting an example, Levy cut his own $1 million-plus salary.
Most of the hospital's skilled workers took a pay cut. What they gained was greater than any dollar amount--a recharged sense of family, support, and the value of each employee's labor. Ultimately, only 70 jobs were lost.
Paul Levy is nominated as one of Beliefnet's Most Inspiring Persons of the Year for showing consideration for his employees and trusting in their compassion.
"Do unto others as you would have others do unto you--all the rest is just commentary," Levy says, quoting an old story about the Jewish scholar Hillel. "It's a code to live by, and if you behave that way, the world will be better a place because other people will behave that way back."