Jane Newton, 39
Associate vice president of people services
Creative Dining Services
Jane Newton had been at Creative Dining Services directing its human resources department only nine months when the pandemic hit and the company’s source of income dried up.
Colleges and universities went remote, camps and conference centers closed and in-person dining shut down. Newton and her team were faced with how to care for employees during an overnight emergency.
“All of a sudden, we didn’t have work for people and did not know how long that would be. I am proud that we are a company that cares for our people and can quickly rally together,” she said, noting HR developed a Benefits Premium Relief Fund so any employee who was temporarily laid off would have health care premiums covered.
That same year, Newton helped Creative Dining initiate a diversity, equity and inclusion journey, starting training from the top downward and sharing her personal experience as an Asian American woman following the spa shooting in Atlanta. In fall 2020, she conducted 16 90-minute roundtable sessions with 160 managers and corporate participants for 240 DEI training hours. The company also coached its frontline team members in DEI customer service best practices. Then, Newton engaged Skot Welch, of Global Bridgebuilders, to integrate DEI as a business practice across the company.
In May, Newton was appointed a board member for TrueNorth Community Services to help with its DEI plan. She also has been a volunteer and is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Grand Rapids.