Employee ownership — for every one of the 131 employees at Westwood Holdings Group Inc. — is just one of the things that rank the Dallas-based firm among the Best Places to Work in Money Management.
Employees hold 25% of the company stock, something staffers lauded — along with generous compensation — in an employee survey for Pensions & Investments' Best Places to Work. But they also talked about the family atmosphere and management's genuine compassion and caring for employees.
Many prospective clients are taken on a tour and are shown the corner offices where photos of families on vacation or doing volunteer work fill the offices, said President and CEO Brian Casey.
He said conversations between potential clients and various Westwood staffers are encouraged. “We are proud of our people; we want to show them off,” Mr. Casey said.
Part of the Westwood culture is giving back to the community, which also contributes to the team approach at the company. For example, some 40 employees build houses for Habitat for Humanity.
“It speaks of our family culture,” said Mr. Casey, who was named president and CEO in 2005.
Other projects include volunteering at a homeless shelter and participating in a race or walkathon for a charitable organization, said Leslie Sisk, vice president, director of human resources.
Ms. Sisk said a committee made up of Westwood employees helps decide the charitable efforts in which Westwood will participate.
The company also encourages employees by giving gifts for tenure, at intervals in their employment. It also holds raffles and awards employees American Airlines miles for free trips as part of a program with the airline, Mr. Casey said.
Westwood recognizes an employee of the year with the Silver Whistle Award. The employee receives a $1,000 check, an extra week's vacation and a custom silver whistle necklace from Tiffany & Co.
Why a silver whistle? A silver whistle was used by the late John Wooden, a record-setting UCLA basketball coach. The university is located in the Westwood section of Los Angeles, which is how Westwood got its name.