Creating the Framework for an Inclusiveness Blueprint: CHC Sets Priorities for Its Inclusiveness Blueprint

Trevor and Eleanor presented their compilations of the information-gathering process to the Inclusiveness Committee. The committee members found the information fascinating and asked lots of questions.

"So the staff feels that we could be doing more, especially with our volunteers and fundraising, but the Board generally believes we're right where we should be," said Eleanor. "There are two other Board members, besides Beth and Jeff, who see the need for change. The other six members think things are going along fine and feel uncomfortable with doing anything that would rock the boat. Among those six, though, I would say four are open to learning more...if we can convince them it would make the organization better."

"Where does Mrs. Dreyfuss fall in that assessment?" asked Jeff.

"She's not one of the members who see the need for change, but she's open to discussing this further. She definitely wants to keep Joe happy, so that's an important leverage point," said Eleanor, smiling at her boss. "She was surprised when I told her that other clinics in communities like ours have diversified their Boards. She said that she doesn't have anything against doing it, she just doesn't want to compromise the Board's ability to raise money."

"Oh, that just gets me," said Marcie. "Why would she assume that diversity would erode fundraising?"

"I know," said Eleanor. "But we need to meet people where they are, and help them learn about all of the contributions that people of color can make to our work. I keep thinking about how the light bulb went on for me about this issue, and I hope that we can help make it go on for these Board members."

Jeff cleared his throat. "Well, since I'm the head of the nominating committee, I think we can make some changes eventually."

"I agree, Jeff," said Joe. "There is a potential for making progress here. Especially since it sounds like this is a category where there is a definite discrepancy between the practices in our field and our organization, and also between the perceptions of different Board members."

"Another place where we see that kind of discrepancy is in fundraising," says Eleanor. She and Trevor explained their findings about the disparity the ethnicity of donors participating in events versus those who contributed to the donation boxes in the clinic. They also noted that the staff response on survey questions about fundraising revealed a strong base of ideas for making changes. Several staff members had suggested other types of events and activities that could draw in new donors.

"This sounds like another slam dunk," said Hector. "We have two areas to prioritize."

"What about personnel?" said Joe. "My sense is that this is an area where my predecessor had already done a lot of work. What did the findings show?"

"In comparison with other clinics, we're more diverse in terms of staff, especially at the management level," said Trevor. "And on the survey, the vast majority of staff reported that they believe we have a commitment to inclusiveness and that we have an open and welcoming workplace."

"That's not the same with our volunteers, though," said Luisa. "At least from what I read about the focus groups."

"You're right, Luisa," said Eleanor. "The focus group of patient families revealed some dissatisfaction with our volunteers. The families don't feel entirely comfortable with the people we have volunteering at the welcome desk. And for patients whom English is not their first language vastly prefer to have a clinician who speaks their language."

Trevor reported on the quantitative side. "Forty-nine percent of clinic volunteers responded that they have challenges creating a welcoming environment and 80 percent wanted additional training in working with diverse clients."

Joe asked, "Luisa, Marcie, do you think we could make some progress here, or would it be too great of a challenge?"

"I have so many ideas, Joe, I can't even tell you!" Luisa smiled. "It would be great to have some resources - time-wise, and the help of the staff - to make some improvements."

Marcie nodded in agreement. "We're ready to make the changes. It was really helpful to do the research and find out where our challenges are. But I'm still worried about the organizational culture side of things. Though you talked about the happy side of the staff survey, I see that some staff made comments about the differential in treatment between administrative and professional staff."

"I noticed that, too," said Hector. "But no one makes any concrete suggestions for how to improve it."

"No, but why should they? It should be our job as the managers to make the changes," said Marcie.

"You're right, of course. But the balance of the staff survey was so positive, I think we could probably deal with this concern at the management team level, just by changing some of our practices," said Joe. "How about if we start with the three priority areas of Board, fundraising, and volunteers. I think this would give us an effective beginning to our inclusiveness work."

"I agree," said Melody. "As an admin person, I can say that the problems aren't so big. Mainly, people want to see if we're going to really make progress on the initiative."

"Okay, okay," said Marcie. "It's just hard not to want to do everything at once!"

"I know," Joe replied. "But we have to be patient with ourselves and this process. It takes time to change an organization. So, I'll report to the staff and Board on what we've decided. We need someone to take responsibility for each area. This would involve leading the staff through the workbook module on developing an action plan for your area and helping with the implementation. I'll take on the Board."

Marcie and Luisa agreed to work together on the volunteer plan, and Eleanor took responsibility for fundraising.

Joe smiled. "Excellent, now...does anyone have feedback on our process so far? Is the committee structure still working for everyone? Do we need to add any members?"

People gave general assent to the committee and said that they felt the process had been working well.

Beth raised her hand. "Joe, I'd like to ask Mrs. Dreyfuss to join us for the Board and fundraising discussions. I think it's important that we include her now."

"What does everyone think?" Joe asked. There were nods around the table. "Sounds fine," said Hector.

"Okay, folks, if you have further thoughts or concerns, let me know," said Joe. "Now it's time to put some action plans together! Let's meet again in two weeks to talk about our progress."