UWNCM has long been committed to embracing diversity in all aspects of our work. Recently, based on findings from our Community Needs Assessments as well as efforts by United Way Worldwide, we have taken steps to further promote the principles of diversity in both our workplace and our community.
As a first step, UWNCM has teamed with Angele Goss, an expert consultant and trainer in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), a concept that broadly seeks to encourage representation of and participation by diverse groups of people.
Angele consults privately and through Fitchburg State University as well as teaching adult basic education at Mount Wachusett Community College. She also serves on the UWNCM Board of Directors, UWNCM Community Impact Committee and our Day of Caring Steering Committee.
In mid-August, Angele gave an inspiring and informative training session to all UWNCM staff in which she introduced foundational concepts of DEI and led participants through discussions on how DEI impacts personal and workplace experiences. She will provide a similar session for representatives from all agencies awarded grants through our Community Impact Fund in the fall.
Angele says that the sessions seek to get participants thinking, and talking, about what DEI looks like in their organizations and the communities they serve.
“The sessions are very interactive, as participants tell stories about their own cultural experiences and reflect on encounters that made them feel included or excluded,” says Angele. “The goal is not to check a bunch of boxes and move on. It’s for organizations to figure out how they can start making even small changes.”
She adds, “Sometimes people need help, but if they don’t feel like they are represented by an organization, they are less likely to use their services. This might include people of a certain race, age, gender or a demographic category such as single fathers.”
Examples of simple but impactful changes organizations can make to become more inclusive include featuring more diverse and representative clientele in marketing images and stories, offering materials in multiple languages and ensuring that spaces are accessible for people with disabilities.
Angele notes that ultimately, DEI should be part of an organization’s overall framework, including its mission, program and evolving strategy.
“My role is to facilitate the start of an on-going conversation. Demographics change all the time, but I hope people will start to approach their experiences with a different mindset and shift what information they use to inform their efforts,” says Angele. “Ultimately, I hope that participants can embrace a broader perspective on humanity.”