The Diversity and Inclusion Committee at WCMHS was established around May 2014. As with all committees at WCMHS, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee strives to have representation on the committee from across the agency. Early trainings were focused on LGBTQ 101 and safe space trainings as a result of access to grant funded trainings through the Vermont Pride Center, Burlington, VT. These trainings were well received across the agency and well attended.
The committee recognized from the beginning the need to address Diversity and Inclusion within our organization as we begin to have a more diverse workforce and a more diverse population of people we serve. The Diversity and Inclusion Committee’s mission is “to intentionally nurture and sustain an environment in which all individuals are treated with fairness, dignity and respect”. Additionally, the committee “values equal access to opportunities and resources and strives to support our staff to fully contribute to their own, our client’s, organization’s, and communities’ success”.
With our stated mission and vision in mind, the committee worked to create training that would promote cultural awareness across the agency with a focus on implicit bias and the power of privilege and how these impact our relationships and the work we perform for the community. The training is not intended to be a “one and done” presentation, but to begin the conversation around issues of diversity in our organization. The committee wants to encourage and support our staff in having open, honest, respectful conversations around these sometimes very difficult and uncomfortable topics.
The work of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee is ongoing. Some of the initiatives we are currently working on are as follows:
- Transgender and Inclusion Policy development – to ensure that members of our workforce who are transgender or gender diverse have rights and protections necessary to support them in a safe and respectful way as they move through their transition.
- Welcoming and Safe Spaces – evaluating our public spaces within our buildings, such as waiting rooms, hallways and conference spaces, to ensure they are welcoming through the types of pictures, magazines, brochures, etc. that fill these spaces; how we decorate for the holidays/seasons that is inclusive to all religious/spiritual practices; and we are also evaluating bathroom signs and considering options for gender neutral signs to go on single use bathroom doors.
- Diversity Did You Know – a monthly newsletter to help keep the conversation going. Each month highlights a different area of interest related to topics of diversity.
- The Committee is exploring additional resources for training opportunities to expand knowledge and expertise to better inform our workforce for professional practice.
The issues of cultural diversity are complex and can be emotionally charged. The Cultural Diversity and Inclusion Committee wants to foster an environment that is welcoming and supportive to all people who are a part of our organization to include our workforce, the people we serve, our community partners, etc. To that end, we have an open invitation for people to join the committee or to drop into a monthly meeting to see what we are all about. We meet the second Tuesday of each month from 1:30 – 3:00, locations may vary. We are also open to recommendations if there is a topic people feel needs to be considered or addressed. Primary contacts for the committee are Lynn Jones and Roberta Garland, however, staff can feel free to talk to any member of the committee.
- Roberta Garland, Access Clinician
- Lynn Jones, Human Resources
- Susan Loynd, HR Director/Admin. Operations Chief
- Cara Cascadden, ChOICE Coordinator
- Jeremy Chouinard, CDS Case Manager
- Zarin Bandelier, Chrysalis House Coordinator
- Johnna Parkhurst, Accounting Supervisor
- Martha Gold, ChOICE Clinician/Case Manager