The BBBSLI Diversity Initiative: A Movement Towards Inclusion and A Celebration of Our Differences
Several years ago, we at Big Brothers Big Sisters Long Island realized that our leadership did not reflect the demographics of the children and the communities we serve. We were governed by a group of very devoted and well-intentioned individuals, but it was largely a homogeneous group. After this realization, we started asking how can we dedicate ourselves to diversity and inclusion and create a more heterogeneous group of leaders, employees, and volunteers? What strategies could we adopt to implement our diversity mission in a constructive and effective way?
With education, dedication, and hard work, we began to move in the correct direction. We worked closely with a diversity consultant team that specializes in helping organizations facing the same challenges through workshops and private consultation. This work enabled us to form diversity committees at the leadership and staff levels and begin the restructuring process.
Through our own diversity education, we learned a very important word in the cultural diversification process: “intentionality.”
We learned that whether we are members of the Board, President’s Council (our advisory board), leadership or staff, we must each be intentional in our recruitment of event participants, donors, and leaders from the population as a whole, including from racially and ethnically diverse communities. Our Diversity Committee spent hours brainstorming and discovered that the recruitment process we had used for years was often limited to our own personal circles of friends and acquaintances in business and social contexts. “Intentionality” came into the picture, convincing us we had to reach outside of the insular circles in our lives to attract a wider range of amazing, culturally diverse individuals to take part in our mission. We also learned that we should proudly promote our diversity goals and seek help to make our vision come to fruition.
We implemented recruitment practices that embrace diversity and promote inclusion, including:
- Collaborative programming with an array of organizations comprised of racially and culturally diverse members;
- Reaching out to the diverse communities we serve through community leaders and organizations run by the members of those communities;
- Publicizing our diversity initiative in hopes that it will attract a more diverse population of leaders and volunteers who share our vision of mentoring youth for the benefit of all; and
- Fostering an environment of “inclusion” where people newly recruited to the Agency would be nurtured and feel welcome.
We at BBBSLI are committed to the pursuit of diversity and inclusion, which is now a permanent addition to our recruitment process. We continue to look for new ways to promote diversity and to seek ideas and help wherever we can. Our goal is to leverage diverse perspectives and experiences of our leadership, officers, staff, volunteers, and event participants to further advance our mission of creating one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of our youth.
If you or someone you know is interested in helping us to further our initiative, please contact Fabiola Turner, 516-731-0486 ext.218 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chief Executive Director