Last week, we published 5 Questions with SaintA Equity Council and today, we have a follow up for you. Read below for 3 (More) Questions with SaintA Equity Council, which is a staff workgroup dedicated to equity and inclusion for all clients and staff.
1. What are the differences between Equity Council, Historical Trauma and Diversity Committee?
The SaintA Equity Council is the umbrella committee for the Historical Trauma Workgroup and the Diversity Committee. We address larger scale issues on an agency-wide level and provide oversight of the other two groups. We meet with each group quarterly and often collaborate on initiatives with them as well.
The Diversity Committee is the longest standing committee in the agency. It works to increase staff’s awareness of diverse cultures, and to support and encourage diversity in action. Our Diversity Committee tends to take on more community-based initiatives, such as the free screening of Milwaukee 53206 which they hosted for staff and the public last year.
The Historical Trauma Workgroup tackles issues related to trauma and oppression and works directly with the concept of institutional and structural racism. As part of their work, they have collaborated with human resources to ensure SaintA hiring practices are equitable.
Our Historical Trauma Workgroup has hosted learning experiences on diverse topics, including micro-aggressions, trans-racial adoptions, and a Ho-Chunk Perspective of Historical Trauma. They are currently working with us in the Equity Council to develop a reconciliation process for Child Welfare clients.
2. What does reconciliation mean?
Reconciliation is the start of a process whereby we, as professionals, are accountable to our clients and demonstrate a commitment to equity through behavioral change. Reconciliation requires a safe forum for client and staff expression and is completely voluntary.
There has been an agency-wide acknowledgment of how institutionalized racism may hurt our child welfare clients. This was discussed during SaintA’s On the Table session in Fall of 2017, in which a number of Equity Council members participated.
Part of our commitment has been to create an internal system of checks and balances to ensure our clients receive services equitably. If clients, or staff, do experience exclusion, reconciliation means to create an atmosphere of justice and physical, emotional and spiritual healing.
Reconciliation is a crucial process for building community, repairing relationships when unfairness has been perceived, and facilitating self-reflection as to the role of social work in creating equity.
In addition to helping our clients be heard, reconciliation creates an atmosphere of personal humility and inclusivity in our work.
3. What are some initiatives for 2018?
The Equity Council has a number of initiatives for this year and beyond. We will continue to work on and measure progress in our priority areas, which are to increase inclusivity and diversity amongst staff, leadership and SaintA Board of Directors; create an open and inclusive environment for staff and the families we serve; enhance diversity among service providers and vendors; and engage with communities with historically traumatized populations.
Also this year, we have launched a new agency-wide program called, Days of Giving, wherein staff are allowed to use up to 8 hours of paid time volunteering in the community. We anticipate many groups and individuals will take advantage of this opportunity. Our first Day of Giving was, fittingly, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to honor him and his commitment to service.
In 2018 and beyond, we are also sponsoring a number of Affinity Groups. The first is the LGBTQ Affinity Group, which discusses the specific challenges, barriers and issues that impact our LGBTQ clients and colleagues. The LGBTQ Affinity Group is inclusive and open to any staff members interested in learning more for their own knowledge, or to help the agency expand its work with LGBTQ clients.
The next is the Aspiring Women of Color (AWOC) Affinity Group. This group, similar to the LGBTQ affinity group, is inclusive and open to any staff members interested in learning more about how to be – and/or how to support – an aspiring woman of color. The group will discuss challenges, issues, opportunities and strategies to advance women of color within SaintA.
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