Getting ahead in the public relations world is simple, according to Beth Monaghan, chief executive of the Waltham agency InkHouse: “Traditionally, the way it is done is working yourself to death.”
Monaghan has been trying to change this model, monitoring how many hours her 100 employees work, even instituting an e-mail shutdown between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. And last week she went ahead with plans to give raises and offer more employees overtime — even though she was no longer legally obligated to do so.
When a Texas judge slapped an injunction on a federal regulation that would have made several million more salaried workers eligible for overtime pay as of Dec. 1, many employers decided to wait to put changes in place. The regulation would have doubled the salary cap at which workers are allowed to make overtime.
The intention was to put more money in workers’ pockets — either by having employers raise their salaries above the cap or by compensating them for extra hours worked.
Despite the injunction, which the Labor Department is appealing, and an incoming administration that could quash the rule altogether, Monaghan proceeded to bump up the pay of 15 employees. Some are now allowed to put in for extra hours worked; others had their salary boosted above the new cap of $47,476.
The annual cost to the company is equivalent to the salary of several full-time employees, Monaghan said, which is “not insignificant” for her agency.
“If you want loyal employees you have to do the right thing,” she said.
“I told them I was going to do it, and now [if] I’m not doing it because I don’t have to, what does that say about me?”
Reigning women at Foley Hoag
Foley Hoag LLP, the Boston law firm, is promoting eight lawyers to become partners on Jan. 1, and more than half of them are women.
Last year, the firm elevated just two to partnership status, both men. But this year five women, including former Attorney General Martha Coakley, will join the leadership ranks.
Come January, Foley Hoag will have 116 partners, of which women make up 22 percent. That will bring Foley Hoag in line with the national average among the country’s biggest firms.
Foley Hoag’s pipeline is robust, with five female lawyers hired this year either as partners or into senior posts. Women also account for six of the eight associates in this year’s class of new lawyers.
Co-managing partner Kenneth Leonetti said the firm has launched initiatives in recent years to retain women, such as offering mentoring and family-friendly policies.
“Part of it is giving people the tools to be able to manage their lives,” Leonetti said. “We bring in these incredible classes of lawyers, and I don’t want to lose them.”
In addition to Coakley, the other lawyers being promoted include Jennifer Audeh, Richard Baldwin, Jonathan Book, Erin Klein, Creighton Page, Tafadzwa Pasipanodya, and Karen Tepichin.
Investing in a good meal
Boston real estate lawyer Dan Dain launched Restaurant Investment Group as a way to help local chefs focus more on finding the right recipes and less on finding the right investors.
By creating a fund to invest in these chef-owned establishments, Dain learned firsthand how tough the fund-raising part of the business can be. But Dain, chairman of the Dain Torpy law firm, also learned the satisfaction that comes with successfully launching a restaurant.
So far, so good. His group’s first investment opened on Tremont Street last week to crowds. Douglass Williams’ Mida specializes in “modern Italian” cuisine.
Next up: a fish restaurant in the Park Square area that will open next year. That one will be overseen by Ian Calhoun and colleagues from Calhoun’s restaurant, 80 Thoreau. Calhoun says Dain’s group has been crucial for landing financing, while offering invaluable development expertise.
Dain originally started Restaurant Investment Group after hearing from building landlords that they had trouble finding the right restaurants for their first-floor spaces. His team has sold more than $1 million worth of shares in the group’s first fund, Windsor Table Fund I. His team includes restaurant consultants Ed Doyle and Michael Staub, Dain Torpy cofounder Charles Le Ray, and Burns & Levinson partner Josef Volman.
“To help [the chefs] realize their dreams is super exciting for me,” Dain said. “I can’t feel anything but being proud and happy for them. [And] now I know the headaches they go through.”
Christmas comes early at Olin
The faculty and staff at Olin College of Engineering are getting a rare and unexpected holiday treat this month: a break from health insurance.
Olin College officials said they’ve made so much progress in curbing health care costs this year that their employees don’t have to pay any premiums in December.
For 96 people who work at the small Needham college, that means extra cash they can use for holiday shopping, or anything else.
Olin is one of a dozen local colleges and universities that have teamed up to cut health insurance costs. Instead of buying coverage from insurers, they formed their own insurance company, sharing the costs and risks for their combined 10,000 employees.
When those employees stay fairly healthy and medical claims are low, the schools save on insurance costs.
The consortium, called EdHealth, includes colleges and universities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and is in “active communications” with schools in seven other states
At Olin, the average employee is saving $274 on premiums this month, the college said.
“We expected savings through this program,” executive vice president Stephen Hannabury said in a statement, “but these results have exceeded all of our expectations, and we wanted to share those extra savings with employees.”
That’s not bad for a little Christmas bonus.
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