Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) is all about PEOPLE. At the core of this work is ensuring that people who make up organizations, companies, corporations, etc., experience fairness in its various forms and are seen as unique individuals who have something valuable to contribute to the community in which they serve. Here at BCC, we are beginning a journey that is focused on creating opportunities for members of our community to be present, heard, and harnessed. BCC’s Open Forum initiative is the first of many that will be creating a safe opportunity for members of our community to come together to honor the hard work that we all do, share ideas on how to push forward in the right direction, and maintain a culture where we can learn and grow together.
Our very own Krystina Johnson, Director of the Early Learning Program in Washington, D.C., inspired this new initiative through her Racism Town Hall events. In response to the current social climate, Krystina has reminded us how important it is to acknowledge how the events of our time impact us deeply. Creating space for individuals to come together, decompress and share coping strategies, is necessary to promote our purpose of enriching communities one family at a time. Thank you, Krystina. Your dedication to BCC’s staff’s mental and emotional well-being is admirable and greatly appreciated.
Open Forums will be a quarterly event for our entire BCC Family. As an agency, we acknowledge the missteps in our past and decided that it was important to create an opportunity for reconciliation. This initiative creates a platform for concerns and ideas to be voiced to the leadership so there is a direct line of communication. EDI progress reports will be provided so that everyone is aware of what is happening within the agency and how to get involved with matters that are important to them. Most importantly, these initiatives will be an opportunity for BCC staff to foster a community where we all can engage with joy and purpose. By hearing how we can improve relationships with our BCC family, we can begin critical repair work. Consider what prework would work best for your organization. Open Forums are one method of providing a safe and productive space for employees to offer authentic feedback.
Check out the steps that we took to prepare a safe and productive event:
Developed a “How to Receive Feedback” training to equip our leaders with the necessary skills to effectively hear and process feedback from their employees and maintain positive professional relationships.
Facilitators of the Open Forums visited our West Virginia campus to tour the facilities and meet with the leadership team to discuss the agenda and safety measures for all participants.
Introduced the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Facilitator to staff around campus to begin the process of fostering relationships.
The EDI Committee is partnering with BCC’s Executive Leadership to bring Open Forums to every campus. We are committed to working together to use the feedback provided through these forums to guide the work of the agency, and to promote an environment that is healthy and inclusive of all people. Our first Open Forum will be coming soon to our West Virginia campus. Be on the lookout for more information on when Open Forums will be happening on your campus and how you can participate.
Laurie Anne Spagnola, MSW
President and CEO