What does it mean to be diverse? Inclusive? Are these the same as having equity in your workplace? And what exactly does equity mean? These are all questions that the Local First team has begun to ask ourselves. Last year, Local First created an updated organizational strategic plan – and diversifying our organization was a primary priority.
Recently we have embarked upon the process of earning certification through the Partners for a Racism-Free Community as a racism-free workplace. This certification means more to us that a piece of paper and a pat on the back. Inclusion and equal opportunities for everyone are not only integral to the success of a community and its economy, but they are basic human rights. Should the color of my skin, my religious beliefs (or lack thereof), socio-economic status, or any other factor determine my access to the workforce, healthy and affordable food, or the type of education that my kids can receive? Absolutely not. However, do they? Yes.
The work that we are completing is one small piece of the puzzle. There is much more than we and the community can do to eradicate these injustices.
With more exciting news came an email that Local First was accepted for a pilot program through the Non-Profit Technical Assistance Fund (NPTAF). This pilot program pairs organizations with diversity and inclusion consultants to delve into the policies, procedures, and practices of our organization.
As part of the program, each staff and board member of Local First will take the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) – a statistically reliable cross-culturally valid measure of intercultural competence. The IDI gives each individual their placement on the cultural competency “scale.” Eric Foster, our assigned consultant from Progress Strategies +, has created a workflow that will bridge off of the results obtained from the IDI. This workflow, titled Local First E3 (Equity, Environments of Inclusion, and Engagement) with Diverse Communities, sets out a three month schedule of various sessions meant to educate our staff on cultural competencies, inclusion, equity, and cultural development.
As an organization that helps lead our community economically as well as socially, we need to be aware of these injustices that are present in that community. Those once camouflaged acts of inequality have become more and more apparent. With this certification and these trainings, our members and the community as a whole will know what we have known all along – that Local First, with your help, is dedicated to bolstering the success of the entire community.
I welcome you all to help me celebrate the work that has been accomplished on this front, while we take a moment to realize that we all still have far to go to flush out the inequalities many of our community members, friends, and family still face today.
The Midwest Tech Project has partnered with Theta Ventures to organize the 1st Annual "City Hacks GR" Tech Weekend & Hackathon Sept. 14th-17th.