February 20, 2012
I worked for Women for Women International for 9 months. I first work as an (unpaid) intern in the Sponsorship Department and then as Data Entry clerk. The Sponsorship Team consists of 4 paid employees and the brunt of the work falls on unpaid interns and volunteers. These unpaid workers are responsible for keeping track of and sending sponsorship packets (information about with whom sponsors are matched and updates on their "sisters") and forwarding correspondence between sponsors and the women they are sponsoring. There are not nearly enough employees to perform this work and the fact that this organization uses unpaid labor as a crutch to cut administrative costs is truly disappointing. Letters and photos between sponsors and their "sisters" pile up and those working and WFWI are told to SHRED these heartfelt letters and family photos when they have not been forwarded in time. It would be in Women for Women's best interest to invest in their workforce so they are not breaking their word to those who keep their organization running rather than paying their founder and CEO exhorbitant amounts of money and relying on unpaid labor to cover up their shoddy business practices. Following the internship I worked in Data Entry where the Director of our department avoided contact with the Data Entry clerks after we emailed asking for a meeting to discuss the fact that no one had been paid properly for overtime worked. The Director claimed she was "out of town" for a while (though we saw her in the office) and three months later we received flowers as opposed to the requested meeting. While I don't deny that women have been helped by this organization, I was appalled by what goes on behind the scenes and hope that Zainab Salbi will eventually spend more time at her headquarters so she can become aware of the issues faced by her employees.
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