Putting diversity, equity, and inclusion practices in place takes strong leadership and commitment. Policies alone won't drive change. It takes a sustained effort across the entire organization to challenge current practices, call out what's not working, and implement new solutions that make our workplace welcoming and equitable for all.
In 2019, employees Akello Alay, Abigail Botten, and Michelle Hall were selected to participate in a nine month Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion cohort sponsored by the University of Minnesota and Amherst Wilder Foundation. Joining other non-profit leaders from across the Twin Cities, they explored a wide-range of actionable ideas and challenges while increasing their personal intercultural awareness and competency.
The team returned to 180 Degrees, presenting recommendations to the agency's Leadership and Management Team. Recommendations addressed race, ethnicity, language, religion, gender, LGBTQ+ communities, and age. Specific tactics included recruiting employees from new sources to build a more diverse workforce, giving all employees the appropriate tools to succeed, intentionally reaching out to communities not represented in our programs, and actively seeking feedback from communities of color about our performance.
One of the recommendations put into practice includes launching a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Governance Committee. The new committee includes representatives from all levels of the organization and will meet monthly, ensuring that diversity, equity, and inclusion work is sustained throughout the year. The committee will review policies and procedures, identify training opportunities to strengthen cultural awareness, and regularly review client surveys about our programs.
For over thirty years, CEO Dan Pfarr has been on the front lines of the human services community, working to lift-up youth, adults, and families in crisis. His focus on trauma-informed care helps shape the direction of 180 Degrees and inspire a team of nearly one hundred employees. As a multi-cultural organization with staff and clients who have suffered a life of prejudice and inequality, 180 Degrees continues prioritizing discussion and action against a system of racial injustice.