To: All Support, Inc. Staff, Families, and Providers
From: CEO Bentley SmithIn light of recent events over this past week including another incident of social injustice, I want to acknowledge the impact that this has on our entire Support, Inc. network, and especially our Black community. With these types of events, compounded by the pandemic, wildfires, and even hurricanes, it makes for a trying time. But through these trying times I am encouraged by the growing support from key communities, along with the efforts of our own Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council that was created in July. Having a group of dedicated Support, Inc. staff focused on navigating these times gives me comfort and encouragement. Below, I would like to share a communication from this group:
To our Support Inc. Community,
We are saddened by the continued display of social injustice in our communities. In our current social climate, our company has committed ourselves to answering the call for creating change. Supported and encouraged by Founder Dennis Kirkman and CEO Bentley Smith, our company wants to dedicate resources in time, presence, education, and financial support to variety of social justice issues. Our first step was to create a committee of Support Inc. employees ranging from Directors to DSP’s and across our various departments.
Support Inc. has chosen to create a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. Effective 7/1/2020, Support Inc. embarked on a mission to address, explore, educate, learn about, and respond to the diversity of the human experience. To do so, we have created a DEI Council and Committee to identify ways to impact our community and improve equality both inside our organization and outside of it.
Guided by a set of ideals, this council strives to encourage and support our company’s full understanding of diverse cultural perspectives and backgrounds by listening to personal experiences and calling on the use of critical thinking, empathy, and a deeper appreciation of others. Additionally, we will work to create an inclusive, equitable, culturally competent, and supportive environment where employees model behavior that enriches our community.
Our objective is to lead and hold the organization accountable in the incorporation of diversity, equity, and inclusion into all aspects of the work at Support Inc.
Our DEI Initiative is Guided by several ideals:
- Be present and respect the space
- Share your experiences, use “I” statements
- Assess your safety and use your discernment
- he stories of others are theirs to share, maintain confidentially and trust among the group
- Step up, step back
- If you experience yourself making judgements, ask yourself where those feelings came from
- Consider and address the impact of actions rather than focusing on your intentions
- Consider your privilege
- Acknowledge pain or offense in the moment using “ouch” and have the option to discuss it or not at that time
- Confront, critique, and challenge your discomfort
We have defined Diversity our Core Principles:
Diversity: The range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values systems, national origin, political beliefs, and cultures.
- Diversity means more than just acknowledging and/or tolerating difference. It’s a set of conscious practices that seek to understand and appreciate the interdependence of humanity, cultures, and the natural environment.
Equity: Ensuring that everyone has support and access to the resources needed to be successful and identifying and eliminating barriers that have prevented the full participation of communities most impacted by systemic oppression.
- Improving equity involves increasing justice and fairness within the procedures and processes of institutions and systems, as well as in the distribution of resources. Tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our society and institution.
- Equity differs from equality. Equality refers to treating everyone the same but does not necessarily lead to equitable outcomes because diverse communities have diverse needs and have faced varying obstacles and inequities.
Inclusion: Ensuring that people of all backgrounds, identifies, abilities, perspectives, and beliefs have an equal opportunity to belong, achieve, and contribute to their communities. An inclusive organization and community promote and sustains a sense of belonging; it values and practices respect where all people are recognized for their inherent worth and dignity, talents, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of living.
Cultural Competence: An understanding of how organizations and individuals can respond respectfully and effectively to people from all cultures, economic statuses, language backgrounds, races, ethnic backgrounds, disabilities, religions, genders, gender identifications, sexual orientations, veteran statuses and other characteristics in a manner that recognizes, affirms and values the worth, and preserves the dignity, of individuals, families and communities.
Meeting weekly, our objective is to create change amongst a wide scope of issues experienced in our community. That scope is vast and encompasses a lot of aspects, which can be a large weight to carry and one we are excited to do so.
The committee will guide the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion at our institution through the following:
- Assessing the implementation of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan
- Monitoring the development, implementation, and evaluation of standards for cultural competence for employees and care givers
- Providing input on organizational policies and procedures to address diversity, equity, and inclusion issues
- Focus on organizational policies and procedures to address diversity, equity, and inclusion issues and make recommendations when appropriate
- Evaluating and recommending solutions where organizational inequities exist
- Informing and consulting with clients, caregivers, contractors, employees, and leadership regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
- Ensuring the maintenance and dissemination of best practices for diversity, equity, and inclusion in institutional policies, teaching, training, hiring, and retention of employees and contractors
- Serving as a resource for guidance and consultation regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion issues for employees, clients, caregivers and contractors
- Disseminating information about ongoing professional development training around diversity, equity, and inclusion for employees and contractors
- Seeking regular feedback from contractors, caregivers, clients and employees to inform decision-making and understand opportunities for improvement
- Sharing the work of the committee with the Support Inc. community
To date; our group has created a DEI Charter to guide our efforts, we have created a questionaries’ that will be available to our community for feedback in the creation of initiatives, reviewed our implemented Discrimination Policy, and created a Further Education List for DEI initiatives to be distributed soon. Additionally, we are developing a strategic plan to address trainings and internal/external initiatives.