Corporate Mom

Happy New Year – I hope it has gotten off to a good start!

Before my then seventh grader moved into eighth grade, I took the opportunity to challenge her to get rid of her rotating C. You know, that one that randomly rotates on a report card.  One semester it pops up in English and then next time, it shows up in Math.  Because it was never consistently situated in the same subject, I knew she could do better.  Plus, I knew she was a smart girl, which is why I thought this would understandably be a logical conversation I would have with her.  Well, she did not see my logic, at first.

With much protest, she declared that “average” is acceptable; therefore, I should be okay with it.  She went on and on and on.  As a matter of fact, I was surprised by how passionate she became about defending this rotating C.  She even followed me into the bathroom with her defense.  That is when I decided enough was enough.

I looked dead into her ocean blue, innocent eyes and said this,

“Since you seem to like average so much, let’s do this – let’s wait until you get your first report card before we do your back-to-school shopping.  If I see only A’s and B’s, we will do that typical above average back-to-school shopping you are accustomed to.  But, if I see that rotating C, we will do only average, but ACCEPTABLE back-to-school shopping.  And should you decide to rebel and bring home a D, we will do all of your shopping at the discount store in town.  You see, your education success typically dictates your financial success in life.”

By the time I was done, those ocean-blues were staring back wide-eyed at me and her mouth was gaping open.  This kid that had been ranting for over 20 minutes now stood speechless.  I had just put things in perspective for her, and I wasn’t kidding!!!

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8

As God loves me and instructs me, I love my daughter and wanted to help her do her best.  She returned to school in the fall, but the rotating C did not.  I only ran into it again briefly in her junior year.  That conversation completely changed how she felt about her grades.  She went onto college, and two degrees later she is a happily married mom, homeschooling her own kids – that’s the rest of the story.  Education is very important to her, which makes this memory a little humorous to me now.

But back then it was not.  Because she would be entering high school soon, I wanted her to have better grades so she would have a GPA that represented her intellectual talent, but it was going to take her getting off to a good start. And that would not include the rotating C.

Meanwhile, at work…

I had taken a new job as a Human Resources Manager.  When questioned during the interview about my safety background, I explained that I had little to no experience.  Lo and behold, six months into that job, I was given the responsibility for safety.  This transition occurred while we were implementing an electro-coating system that would introduce confined spaces, more chemicals and a respirator program to only name a few safety-related needs.

I knew nothing about this stuff.  We scheduled a safety training session with a consultant who specialized in this type of system, and by the end of the training session,  I was so overwhelmed I cried.  Yes. I. Did.  I cried in front of my boss and all the male engineers in that training session.  Lovely.

I looked at my boss, and flat out told him that he had set me up to fail because I had told him I knew nothing about safety when he hired me.  He should have hired an HR/Safety professional.  But, he had hired me and now I was going to be the one responsible for insuring the safety for our employees.

So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Hebrews 12:12

Fast forward three years, we celebrated 4 years of no lost time accidents and held the highest safety audit score (by 20 points) of all 25 North American facilities.  Can you believe it?  I love safety management now.  Even though I did not get off to a good start, I excelled as best I could with the resources graciously granted to me by my boss and colleagues.  In corporate America, there is no room for average safety programs; It is just too important.

I didn’t accept the average C on my daughter’s report card, and I was not going to be an average Safety Manager either.  To me, average is not acceptable – it’s mediocre, and mediocrity is not acceptable.


I don’t have a PowerPoint to share with you this month, but I do have a copy of my annual Safety/Activity Calendar.  I used color-coding and symbols to communicate our commitment to safety, training and employee relations. I would print out a large copy on a plotter in our engineering department and post it in our break area.

Not only did it communicate our commitments to these important responsibilities, but it also helped me get my year off to a good start.  Everything was planned for me for the year just by putting this together. I knew what safety program I would be focused on each month, which determined the training I would be conducting.  I knew when to plan employee events and when audits were scheduled.  Everyone loved it and I hope you will, too.

Safety Activity Calendar

*You will need to modify the dates every year, including this year.  This calendar was built during a Leap Year.  Use your own color scheme and icons as needed. Adjust margins accordingly..

Look for the Chronicles of the Corporate Mom Monthly on the first Friday of every month.

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Award-winning author Gina Duke is a wife, mom and the principal of a human resources firm specializing in recruiting, training and strategic planning for the automotive industry. Through her book, “Organizing Your Prayer Closet: A New and Life-Changing Way to Pray” (Abingdon Press), she imparts 1 Peter 4:7 with the gift of structured prayer journaling. You may also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @TheGinaDuke.  Connect with her on LinkedIn here.

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One Comment

  1. What a wise mother you are. A very good object lesson you taught your daughter, one that we can all think about and act on. I don’t want to just get a C; I want to offer my best to the Lord in this day. Thanks for the encouragement.

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