Step 2: Create a Shared Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Vision

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Step 2: Create a Shared Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Vision

By: Alyson Weiss

After we onboarded our team of champions, we wrote a long-term Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Vision to ensure that the organization was aligned in our definition of EDI, and our hopes for how our organization would actualize those definitions.

While this step initially felt overwhelming, the EDI Vision has made a huge impact at YNPN Boston. I strongly advocate for every organization to go through this process.

Why Having an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Vision Matters

At the time we were writing this vision document, the majority of Leadership Team members were white women, though our two Board Co-Chairs were white men. Because of this, a frequent question the EDI team got was, “Does this mean you’re trying to get more men to join?”

It was a valid, and vital question to answer. And it was a question that couldn’t be answered in a silo. Imagine if our Talent and Recruitment team saw the inclusion of more men as a top priority, but the Communications and Marketing team saw it as a low priority - the marketing material might actively work against the Talent team’s goals!


So the EDI committee started writing, and the finished EDI Vision serves as the organization’s North Star to guide and calibrate all of our EDI work across the organization.  

Components of Your Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Vision

At YNPN Boston, we incorporated three components into our vision:

  1. The case for why Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Matters to our organization, based on how it supports our organizational mission, vision, and values.

  2. Shared definitions of the words Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. In this section, we open by defining the three terms - Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion - to clarify what we mean when we use these terms, and how the three terms differ and support each other.

    In addition, we used this section to clarify which populations we aimed to serve through our EDI work - “In all of these definitions, YNPN Boston actively centers social justice. Our goal is not to simply have an equal number of all types of people, but rather to prioritize the inclusion of historically and currently oppressed individuals and groups into decision-making roles.” This has been one of the most important components to getting alignment on our EDI priorities as a board.

  3. A vision for what our organization would look like if it was equitable, diverse, and inclusive. This vision is meant to be long-term, and not every item is necessarily achievable, but they align us under a shared understanding of what we’re moving towards. To write this part of the Vision, we did an exercise where we asked the EDI committee, “If we lived in a utopia, where anything was possible, what would it look like for YNPN Boston to ‘achieve’ Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion?” Here is one example of an EDI goal we committed to:

            a. Full and equal access to our services (blog, events, listserv, membership, social media, website)

                     i. Online and event content feature diverse voices, so that everyone sees their experiences and identities reflected in our content.
                    ii. The website and event venues are accessible for people with disabilities, and programs are regularly held in underserved, T-accessible neighborhoods.
                   iii. Membership model centers access for low-income leaders and organizations.
                   iv. Commitment to measuring progress towards this goal year-to-year.

Each of these components has been crucial to ensuring that this document was an actionable plan that would increase the likelihood of consistency in goals across teams. Now, the Talent and Recruitment team and the Communications and Marketing team will be on the same page about whether or not men are a top recruitment priority (they are not, since we choose to prioritize historically and currently oppressed individuals and groups).

We were also deeply committed to writing it in accessible language, and keeping the document short to make sure it would be used by future iterations of the Leadership Team. You can read the full EDI Vision (and please, borrow as much of it as you’d like!) here.

The Process

Change is hard, and EDI can be a particularly delicate area to make progress on, since it is inherently personal and political. While we did have tough conversations during this process, the EDI Vision was ultimately voted in unanimously by the board, because of a careful, extensive process to write it, get feedback on it, discuss it, but still make progress on it. Here’s the timeline we used:

September 2016

Discuss scope of EDI Vision with EDI committee, recruit a subcommittee to write the first draft

October 2016

Present draft to EDI committee, get feedback

October 2016

Open up document for comments via Google Docs to the board, present and discuss at Board Retreat

November 2016 - December 2016

Make edits to draft, send to EDI committee and board for final edits

February 2017

Unanimously voted in by the board

 
Sharing our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Vision

After the EDI Vision was voted in by the board, the EDI team shared the Vision with an all-team email, a post in Slack, and inclusion of the document in our onboarding material for future Leadership Team members. We also visited each team at one of their team meetings to help them set their own functional-area EDI goals, which will be the focus of our Step 3 blog.

The Impact of our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Vision

While it is still early (the Vision was only voted in this year!), we have already started to see an impact, including:

  • Different board members have begun to bring up EDI and our Vision at regular board meetings during discussions about related, but separate, topics
  • More than half of our all-volunteer Leadership Team attended our first-ever optional training
  • During our strategic planning process, the previously cautious board asked if we could include advocacy as a topic of consideration
  • We recruited slightly more than 50% board members of color during our 2017 recruitment cycle (though our ambassadors are slightly whiter this year than last - always room to grow!

 

While it can feel a bit overwhelming to start writing any centralized strategic document, writing an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Vision has changed the game for us. Now, all of our Leadership Team members understand why the work matters to us as a central priority of the organization (it’s not ‘extra’!), what we mean when we use the terminology, and how we are committed to taking action.

Continue to Step 3: Assign Key Action Steps


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