“We are going to listen to the candidates and understand not just what they have done, but what they want to do.
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UNLOCKING GREATNESS—GREAT SERVICE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE IN ONE COMPANY
She knew education was the key to breaking the cycle of poverty and now this entrepreneur turns the tables with her staffing business.
Zenja Norful-Glass, or “Z” as she is called, knows a thing or two about building something from the ground up. She and her two younger siblings were raised by a single mom who wasn’t much older than they were. Originally in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, when Z was still a small girl, her mom made the decision to leave an abusive relationship. The police picked them up and took them to the bus station. She remembers her mom asking the guy at the bus counter where the next bus was going to and he said, “Milwaukee, Wisconsin.” “Then that’s where we are going,” her mom said.
Against the odds, the young family built a life in Wisconsin. It wasn’t easy and sometimes they moved around a lot. “I remember reciting the addresses for the 22 places we had lived in one year to a family member and she began to cry,” Glass recalls. “That confused me because, as a child, you don’t realize you’re not living like everyone else.”
Z’s mother was convinced that the way to break the cycle of poverty was through education, and she instilled a desire to learn in her daughter. Glass attended Marquette University where she first earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication and then her master’s in Organizational Communications and Management. The same year she started her master’s program she also opened the doors of her business, Unlocking Greatness Staffing, Inc. As you might expect, this is no ordinary staffing company, and it’s no wonder her company is on the radar of some pretty large companies like client CDW.
The company provides direct hire and contract staffing services nationwide and on a global basis. They cover the gamut of areas—administrative, finance and accounting, executive, manufacturing, and warehouse and distribution. So far, not a lot of difference. But in a world where the hiring client is king, Glass was adamant that the other client, the hiring candidate, receive the same care and attention. “I’ve had to part ways with some pretty good recruiters because they didn’t take the same care with the candidate as they did with the hiring manager,” she admits. “We are going to listen to the candidates and understand not just what they have done, but what they want to do.”
Early on, Z also made the decision that her company would give back, especially to children’s causes. The company is active with Make-A-Wish Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Salvation Army Promise Program, Cherish House and Destiny Rescue. Helping children who have been victims of human trafficking and those who have chronic medical conditions are two causes that are particularly near to Glass’ heart. “That could have been me,” she states matter-of-factly when discussing the conditions that contribute to trafficking. When a local house for trafficking victims and runaways had to close, Glass knew she had to do something. She turned to the best advocates she knew—her team at Unlocking Greatness. She and her team have a goal: by 2020 they will find funding to establish a home for children who need a safe place where they can begin again.
To raise money, Unlocking Greatness began producing inspirational items including an unbreakable jewelry collection that celebrates standing up against having one’s spirit broken. There is also a collection of prints, each of which focuses on an aspect of unlocking your greatness. Inspiring words such as “tenacity”, “permission”, “dream”, “failure” and “walk” have a picture and message. A set of all twelve messages are also available in a postcard size.
She knows there were forks in the road and each could have taken her down a very different path. Despite the poverty and struggles, she feels blessed. “It didn’t feel good at the time,” Glass says, “But God had a plan for me and I was under his protection.” Her faith has helped her stay strong through the bad times and rejoice in the good.
Bringing bright and ambitious people together with companies who are hiring and helping children at the same time—that sounds like the epitome of unlocking the greatness in all of us.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT UNLOCKING GREATNESS STAFFING OR THEIR CAUSES, VISIT: