Last month, we were excited to make our community aware of the Open Forums initiatives that were created to give an opportunity for members of our BCC family to share ideas and maintain a culture where we can learn and grow together. This initiative creates a platform for concerns and ideas to be voiced to leadership so that there is a direct line in communication. On March 31, 2021, more than 50 talent members of our West Virginia campus gathered both virtually and in person (COVID Friendly of course) to join the conversation of change and contribute their ideas on how to make BCC more inclusive and culturally competent. Interested in learning more about what topics were discussed? Check out this handout.
The success of this initiative is credited to the intentional planning by the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee to ensure that safety commitments and expectations were clearly communicated and modelled throughout the event. We often discuss the need to create safe environments without expanding the conversation on how to do so. At the beginning of the forum our EDI Facilitator, Courtney Mercado, set the precedent for how Open Forums were designed and created to be one of integrity and support. Check out the best practices that we utilize to create a safe space:
- Ensuring that a Mental Health Practitioner was present to provide mental and emotional support during and after the event.
- Encouraged staff to lean into positive coping skills and communicate to the facilitators what they need to feel supported.
- Reminded staff to be intentional with word choices. Being mindful that labels, assumptions, stereotypes, etc. can be harmful to others.
- Give and Receive Feedback in healthy and positive way.
- Taking time during the forum to stop, breathe, and validate the thoughts and emotions that were being shared.
The Open Forum in West Virginia has left all of those involved feeling motivated and excited to create time and space for everyone to come together on a regular basis to continue these crucial conversations and foster genuine relationships with one another. Building a community rooted in cultural awareness and inclusive practices is how we help everyone develop the joy and purpose behind the work that we do each day. Leadership is already in the process of identifying tangible goals as a result of the forum and mapping out timelines for the next Open Forum. In the spirit of the Open Forum in West Virginia and in honor of Diversity Month, challenge yourself to get to know your teams, coworkers, and clients on a deeper level. Adopting the attitudes of a life learner helps us to open our minds to storytelling, providing support, and relying on each other to push our mission forward.