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  • Writer's pictureCharity Chat Podcast

E182 - Challenging The Status Quo To Achieve Change Wth Tom Vozzo

“Our secret sauce is as simple as building positive relationships, and we love them….We’re just here to say ‘we’re here for you’ and lean in to building a relationship and providing support for the first time in their life – that’s what changes it all around.”

- Tom Vozzo

In this episode we speak with Tom Vozzo, CEO of Homeboy Industries. We speak about the importance of compassionate leadership and how it requires reframing how you think and how you interact with others. We also discuss how meritocracy should not be the only way to measure people and their performance.

1. Compassionate Leadership

Tom talks about how finding balance within yourself and setting boundaries can help you to lead with compassion. He believes everyone has goodness in them and that if you’re finding issues in your team like insubordination, you should always look deeper as to why this is happening and feel compassion for what others are going through. You need to approach issues on an individual basis and do what is right for them, and don’t worry about the complications of setting precedents.

2. Reimagining Meritocracy

We also discuss the limitations of meritocracy and how this is a big barrier for the people that Tom helps, who are ex-felons and gang members trying to restart their life. Meritocracy serves a purpose to show if people have reached their financial targets etc. but you can’t use it to measure someone’s worth, their passion or how their values align with the organisation’s.

3. Developing your team

Finally, Tom emphasizes that your management team should always be as diverse as your front line staff and the people who you are working with. Some people may have had bad experiences with employers in the past and they may not trust the traditional promotional system. So, instead of requiring people to act up into a senior role before they are given a promotion, you should look at an individual’s potential and promote them first, the learning and experience will come afterwards. Although providing people with the support they need to develop this way is costly and time consuming, the pay-off is huge.

This episode of Charity Chat has been brought to you by our platinum sponsor Work for Good. Work for Good believes everyone should be able to turn the work they do into good. Through their fundraising platform, they offer charities a way to engage and work with small businesses, including founders, owners and sole traders who want to make an impact for charities through their sales. To find out more, please visit

We hope you enjoy this week’s episode.

Related episodes that you may be interested in:

E170 - Is Charging Beneficiaries The Route To Sustainability With Joe Saxton

E166 - Social Issues And Charities With Dan Corry

E146 - Diversifying our sector with Kemar Walford


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