Inclusiveness Training: CHC Inclusiveness Committee Meets to Discuss Inclusiveness Training

The CHC Inclusiveness Committee members gathered in the conference room for their meeting. They sampled Luisa's empanadas and exclaimed over the delicious tastes. Everyone fell silent when Joe entered with Beth Zwick and Jeff Ramsey, two members of the Board of Directors.

"Hi everyone," said Joe. "I hope you'll join me in welcoming Beth and Jeff to our committee."

Members of the group nodded and smiled politely. Beth took an empanada from the tray as it was passed to her. "Thanks for having me here, everyone. I just want to emphasize that I'm not here to spy on the staff, or for these yummy treats," she said. "I'm interested in helping this organization become more inclusive, and I know that the Board will have to be part of that."

"I agree," said Jeff. "Since I've just taken on the role of nominating committee chair, it's good timing for me that we've started this work."

Joe replied, "Thanks for your leadership, both of you. You've joined us on an interesting day. We're going to be talking about how our inclusiveness efforts have two different, simultaneous tracks."

"What do you mean?" asked Beth.

"The basic idea is that we'll be simultaneously working to develop inclusiveness on an organizational level and an individual level," Joe explains.

"While we're improving how we do our work, we'll also spend some time looking at our own attitudes and concerns related to diversity and inclusiveness. Does that make sense?"

Beth nodded, as did several other committee members.

Luisa spoke up right away. "Joe, when I was reading the description of inclusiveness training in the workbook, I really got the feeling that this is something the staff should do separately from the Board," she said. "No offense, Mrs. Zwick, Mr. Ramsey."

"Call me Beth, please. And no offense taken," said Beth. "If it's a more personal process, it would be strange to have the Board and staff together. Do you agree, Jeff?" 

"I do," said Jeff. "Though I think the Board should eventually do some kind of training."

"Does everyone else agree that we want to go with a staff-only training to start with?" Joe asked. "We'll move on to the Board later."

Following nods of assent, Joe flipped through his workbook. "So our next step is to talk about the kind of training we want. Let's take a look at the chart in Exercise 2A," Joe said.

The committee reviewed the chart, which compared the qualities of three different levels of training approaches: intercultural/valuing differences, prejudice reduction, and anti-racism.

Marcie cleared her throat and spoke. "I just don't think we're really addressing the issue if we don't go all the way," she said. "We should definitely do anti-racism training."

Right away, Eleanor shook her head. "I think that's too much. We don't need it!"

Hector agreed. "This group is just putting its toes in the water. We don't want to be telling people they're racist right out of the chute!"

"I've done these things before," said Melody. "At the store where I worked downtown, they put us through this day-long training on racism, and the white girls on the cash registers wouldn't talk to me for a week. Then everything went back to the way it was."

"That's just it!  If people don't understand that we live with racist systems, they can't understand how to dismantle the one we've got going here," Marcie said, slapping her palm on the table. No one responded.

"Okay," Joe said finally. "This is a tough issue. But we need to do something that will appeal to as many people as possible. Would you agree, Marcie?"

Reluctantly, Marcie said, "Okay. But I'd like us to consider something more at some point, if it looks like our staff can handle it."

The committee agreed, and Joe summarized, "So we want to start with a Valuing Differences type of training, which means that we're going for incremental change in the organization at this time. And we'll take a look again at where we are six months from now and re-assess. Is that what I'm hearing?"

The group agreed, then Joe threw out the topic of training format. After some discussion, they decided on an ongoing intermittent format, with two- to three-hour trainings, so that staff members wouldn't be away from the clinic for long periods of time.

"This sounds great," said Joe. "And I'll work out the details on the budget. We should have about $3,000 to allocate for this portion of our inclusiveness work. Now we have to think about who can help us do this training. Our next topic will be selecting a consultant."