New Hire Orientation: How DCCV Adapted Their Previous Orientation to Include Inclusiveness
As part of their efforts to build inclusiveness within their organization, the Denver Center for Crime Victims (DCCV) added an inclusiveness piece to its new hire orientation. The new hire orientation had previously been 40 hours worth of training, which included a half-day on the topic of diversity. The new inclusiveness piece adds two full days (or four half-days) exclusively focused on inclusiveness.
"We want to prep people for what to expect from our agency's holistic approach to inclusiveness. It is truly the fabric of our agency," says Cathy Phelps, Executive Director.
The new inclusiveness piece includes a variety of experiences:
- a review of the documents that detail the research about inclusiveness as well as the agency's inclusiveness blueprint;
- a review of a paper written by staff in 2006 entitled "Our Thoughts on Diversity Fatigue";
- a review of articles, such as "Identity Crisis" by Patty Talahongva and "Color Blind or Just Plain Blind?" by John Dovidio and Samuel Gartner;
- a viewing of videos, such as Crash, Babel, or Traces of the Trade followed by discussions;
- training on ethical communications and the organization's conflict resolution policy;
- an update on the work of the agency's inclusiveness committee and its year-long calendar of activities/projects (the agency hosts activities four to six times a year); and
- an invitation to participate on the inclusiveness committee.
This new hire orientation to the organization's focus on inclusiveness actually starts at the interview stage with potential candidates. In the interview, each candidate is asked (1) whether or not she or he has reviewed the philosophy statement (a statement about the agency's commitment to inclusiveness) that he or she was given along with the job description; (2) whether or not he or she has ever worked in an agency that had a philosophy statement; and (3) how the philosophy statement might impact/inform the work she or he would do at DCCV. "We are looking to see the candidate's reaction when inclusiveness is mentioned; how he or she will feel working in an organization that has an inclusiveness philosophy statement. We aren't looking for experience or skills in inclusiveness, just the willingness to participate," says Susana Avelar-Recinos, Bilingual Counselor and chair of the DCCV inclusiveness committee.
"We are finding that people are surprised and appreciative that we are serious about inclusiveness and that the agency's culture is to bring ideas out in the open. We know that conversations happen here that may not happen at other agencies," says Cathy. It was through DCCV's service to clients that the need came up for having a culture of dealing with hard issues (e.g., how to work with a young client who was a Nazi).
"We put in the time to build inclusiveness every day. Hard issues are going to come up and we aren't just about putting out fires; we are about preventing fires," says Susana. DCCV leadership has discovered that this focus on inclusiveness has led to increased productivity, truly an economic benefit. "Things don't fester as much; and people aren't disgruntled, isolated, or mad over issues that without our focus on inclusiveness would become mountains. Staff is supported in growing personally and professionally because we have taken on the work of building inclusiveness," says Cathy. "People are appreciative of working in this climate and willing to meet leadership halfway on sticky issues. Our inclusiveness work creates goodwill and loyalty," says Susana.
DCCV's inclusiveness efforts have been going on for four years and Cathy and Susana agree that they feel as though the organization has made significant progress and is reaping many benefits from these efforts.
They acknowledge that: "There is no recipe, no quick fix." and "Yes, it's personally challenging."and "While it is not a panacea for all that ails an agency, it has been our experience that inclusiveness is a critical building block to agency productivity."
Thank you, and congratulations to, DCCV for bringing inclusiveness to the forefront and enjoying rewards from those efforts!
DCCV's Philosophy Statement
The Denver Center for Crime Victims is an inclusive agency which values the contributions and cultures of all its stakeholders and clients. We create an organizational culture based on respect, accountability and trust. Our commitment to inclusiveness is evidenced by our agency's policies, practices and strategic plans.