EdComVersation: Developing a Strategy for Inclusion and Diversity

Originally posted on Medium, April 27, 2017. 

During the months of April and March, there has been a lot of discussion about inclusion, equity, and diversity. First, there was discussion about equity and inclusion in museums (https://medium.com/@steward.lindsey/equity-and-inclusion-in-museums-9abf113c861b). Second, there was the blog post on EdComVersation discussion about the Journal of Museum Education edition on Race, Dialogue, and Inclusion (https://medium.com/@steward.lindsey/edcomversations-and-journal-of-museum-education-race-dialogue-and-inclusion-1a6bdc61ebb5). Third, there was discussion about gender equity in museums(https://medium.com/@steward.lindsey/gender-equity-in-museums-an-important-issue-that-should-be-addressed-723341320b03).

To continue the discussion on inclusivity and diversity, I recently participated in this month’s EdComVersation about developing a strategy for inclusion and diversity. One of the two panelists for this webinar was Dina Bailey, the CEO of Mountaintop Vision, a consulting firm that focuses on working with organizations in change management and strategic initiatives in to embrace diversity and inclusion in communities. The second panelist was Chris Taylor, the Chief Inclusion Officer at the Minnesota Historical Society which preserves Minnesota’s past, shares the state’s stories and connects people with history. By participating in this program, I found the resources very helpful and informative since after learning more about inclusion, equity, and diversity I can continue my understanding of these topics by learning how to implement inclusion and diversity.

This month’s webinar’s format included questions from Sheri Levisky-Raskin, who moderated the discussion, and from participants in the webinar. Bailey and Taylor shared their answers to questions posted and their insights on creating strategies for inclusion and diversity. To begin the discussion, they shared their definition of inclusion and definition. According to Bailey, diversity is having different types of people in one space or program and inclusion is the action of coming together to do something. To add to these definitions, Taylor added that diversity is the intended outcome for an organization while inclusion is the process of how we get there and how we make decisions. Both Bailey and Taylor pointed out that in general people have used the terms “diversity” and “inclusion” interchangeably without realizing this; while these terms refer to the same subject both terms are different. The discussion continued with the difference between Strategy and strategy when developing a strategy for inclusion and diversity.

While defining inclusion and diversity, Taylor also brought up the point that while we are looking at the definitions of these terms we should also look at the definition of strategy. He stated that there is a difference between Strategy and strategy. Strategy with a capital “s” is the strategic planning with the question of what are the outcomes in mind; meanwhile, strategy with a lowercase “s” raises the question of what can you do within your team, and figure out how to do the day to day activities.

Bailey and Taylor answer the question of what can you do to come up with an inclusion plan towards diversity. They stated that it is better to either define diversity and inclusion for the organizational culture or to keep the definitions broad and genetic. Taylor reiterated this answer by pointing out inclusion comes from us and the organizational culture should contain one of the most important things to bring the work internally. Also, Bailey revealed that it is important to make it personal since it is difficult to maintain goals when terms are defined broadly.

The discussion continued by allowing participants to ask themselves where do inclusion and diversity sit in your institutions and gave additional advice on how to start integrating inclusion and diversity in the institutions. Bailey and Taylor stated that diversity must be a part of what you do and by having someone responsible for inclusion there would be someone to evaluate and implement written documents to support diversity in the institution. Other advice both gave are to include leadership in the process and volunteer to do stuff if higher levels do not have time to work on since it shows that you think it is important as well as passionate about diversity; find someone you trust to collaborate with; and use the resources available, and there are plenty, for inclusion and diversity.

Both Bailey and Taylor explained it is alright to have a small group of staff to start with on these discussions and to start on small projects. There are ways to start without spending a lot including getting to know who you are as a staff and institution to allow themselves to become more aware of our own stereotypes, prejudices, etc. then the understanding of oneself gets better. Other ways to start is to share the resources such as books, websites, and webinars by forming small gatherings such as book clubs. They also suggest that articles can also be shared in the lunchroom weekly, send email informing the rest of the staff resources are available in the room, and at the end of the month offer to discuss it if they have read them.

I leave it here to ask you these questions: Has your staff worked on an inclusion plan towards diversity within your institutions? What methods have you worked on to raise awareness on inclusion and diversity?

 

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