We realize that becoming an anti-racist organization is a lofty goal. But our staff are scrappy and determined. We set ridiculously high goals and then we move mountains to achieve them. This isn’t a trend, and it’s not a knee-jerk reaction to satisfy funders or some disgruntled staff. This work is the right thing to do and it’s long overdue.
Because this work matters.
What’s in the Works:
We have established the goal of eliminating the disparity of employee experiences at NCADA, from hiring to retiring, within 3 years. We believe that by focusing internally first, we will be better and more fully equipped to respond to the needs of our community. To this end, we have identified internal benchmarks and developed outcomes to measure our success and track our progress.
We participated in the United Way’s, “Building a Framework for Advancing Racial Equity” pilot program, designed to help select member agencies take system-level action. For example, the program has propelled us to: establish a common language with inclusive terms, update our purchasing policy to reflect a racial equity lens, and create a budget line item for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work.
We have engaged with Undo Bias, a consulting firm, to accompany us in our racial equity journey. They have led us in various caucusing exercises and have helped us create a nine-member Racial Equity Committee in November 2019. In August, the Racial Equity Committee developed and disseminated an internal survey on racial climate at the organization. We disaggregated the results by race and publicly discussed the data at the September Board meeting and staff meeting. The results pointed to the necessity of creating a confidential reporting process and engaging leadership at a deeper level in the DEI work. To this end, we have continued our partnership with Undo Bias. They will lead us in more caucusing exercises, conduct a healing group for staff who identify as persons of color, and will provide coaching to upper management.
Other DEI efforts include the creation of a lending library in the break room, bi-monthly book clubs, professional development opportunities, and as-needed processing/debriefing spaces in times of crisis.
We have also begun to address how we talk about substance use disorders. We know, for example, that white people with substance use disorders are most often channeled into treatment and recovery groups. But it is a sad reality that for far too long Black and brown people, particularly Black men, are hesitant to ask for help with a substance use disorder for fear of being criminalized. This has never been okay, and it is up to us to use our megaphone to highlight this disparity.