The recent killing of George Floyd and the subsequent unrest, has raised the troubling issue of systemic racism in the United States. One of our most important organizational values at the Estes Valley Library is Community: We welcome everyone, regardless of age, gender, race and political affiliation and we enable all people to express ideas, solve problems and achieve their goals. This is foundational to our Library but yet we recognize that some of our structures and ways of operation, may not lend themselves to the outcome of inclusivity in practice.
So we have been looking for ways to evaluate our success with EDI in the workplace as a way to counter all forms of racism and to find ways to move forward in areas where EDI is lacking.
For this reason, the “HR Team” made up of Claudine Perrault, Cindy Seckman and Joanna Stensland attended a 3-day symposium in July 2020, hosted by the Denver Public Library on the subject of EDI. We heard from many talented professional men and women from a variety of backgrounds and races. We learned of the daily struggle of Black Americans and Americans of other races to be treated as equal in America’s workplace. We also became aware of some of the ways in which our very systems and structures are favorable to certain groups but not to others.
One of the main lessons that came out of the symposium was that EDI work will take time. It will involve a culture shift. The starting place is authenticity and humility. We need to honestly acknowledge where we still have work to do at the Library and at the same time, create a step-by-step plan to do better!
The following serves as a guide and roadmap for incorporating EDI, not only into our vision, but into our systems, practices and procedures so that we will be an organization that truly represents the community we serve and the wider global community of which we are a part.
Phase 1: Vision and Commitment (August/September 2020)
- Discuss EDI with the Board of Trustees. Include the ‘why’; an honest assessment of Library EDI to date; discussion of potential ‘good trouble’ to result from working on this area.
- Inform staff of EDI concepts and commitments. Include the ‘why’; an honest assessment of Library EDI to date; discussion of potential ‘good trouble’ to result from working on this area.
- Identify partners/consultants for this work to help us see where we need to improve and how to get there.
Phase 2: Preparation and Planning (January – June 2021)
- Review existing Library Mission, Vision & Values in the light of EDI.
- Survey staff on their thoughts, feelings and vision surrounding EDI.
- Assess current workforce demographic and community demographics.
- Research other libraries’ work with EDI, with emphasis on external outcomes.
- Establish specific goals for the next phases.
Phase 3: Action and Reaction (Summer 2021)
- Lean on partners and consultants.
- Facilitate workplace conversations around EDI.
- Arrange training for staff (and potentially volunteers)
- Assess current practices, programs and procedures for implicit or unconscious bias and exclusion of certain demographics. Revise or replace those that only work for a certain demographic.
- Communicate with the public the enhanced efforts of the Library to embrace diversity and address equity.
Phase 4: Sustain (Fall 2021 – continuous assessment)
- Continue to take the pulse of the workforce through surveys and meetings.
- Continue to partner with local diverse community organizations
- Periodically reassess systems and procedures for adherence to EDI.