This past year, our country faced race and equity issues that require conversation and change at every level. In an effort to truly understand these issues and affect change, Easterseals has begun Race, Equity and Anti-Bias training, which will be provided to every staff member. The process will include conversations about race, equity and bias within Easterseals and the communities we serve. These conversations will help guide future trainings to address concerns and issues within our organization.
The training will occur in small groups to help ensure that staff feels comfortable to discuss their experiences and their concerns about these issues. The trainings are being facilitated by Andrea Lawful Sanders. You can learn more about her at https://alawfultruth.com/about/
Ivy Lewis, Easterseals CFO, shared her experience through a Q & A session after her recent training.
Why do you think this type of training is important for Easterseals?
I think this type of training is important for each and every human being. It is important that Easterseals begin and continue to conduct this type of training to open the lines of communication on the often avoided conversation of Race and Equity. Easterseals serves a diverse population and while there is some diversity among its staff, it is far from proportional with our clients. It is equally important for Easterseals to help its employees break down the barriers that exist due to implicit bias and dispel untruths that far too long been taken as fact. By providing Race, Equity and Anti-Bias training to employees, Easterseals will ultimately provide a greater service to many of our clients if staff truly understanding the disabilities they face often outweigh their medical diagnosis.
How do you think working at Easterseals has impacted your view of equity and inclusion?
My view has widened during my time at Easterseals in terms of equity and inclusion for differently-abled (instead of disabled) people. However, working at Easterseals has done nothing to change my view on Race and Equity. Easterseals is a microcosm of the nation as a whole. I am a black woman living in America for all of my life, more than half a century now. Whether within in the confines of an Easterseals building or not, what I experience as a black woman does not change. My blackness doesn’t go away if I don’t mention it or people claim they don’t to see color. However, I appreciate Easterseals for taking the first step in recognizing the enormity of this problem and providing staff with this training. Perhaps with this training staff will be inspired to learn the truth about the inequities that exist for people of color which began more than 400 years ago and surprisingly still exists today. If staff share this knowledge with those outside of Easterseals to affect change, working at Easterseals will have an impact on my view of equity and inclusion from Race, Equity and Anti-Bias perspective.
What was the most valuable thing about this training from your perspective?
The most valuable thing is that Easterseals thought it important enough to provide this training to every employee. Equally important is engaging the incomparable Ms. Andrea Lawful-Sanders to facilitate the discussion and provide tools to break down the barriers that separate different points of view as well as building blocks for a better understanding to bridge the divide.
What are your thoughts on how we can be more inclusive in our everyday lives?
I think it’s simple, to be more inclusive in our everyday lives we just need to take these words to heart… “I’m starting with the (wo)man in the mirror, I’m asking him (her) to change his (her) ways. And no message could’ve been any clearer, if you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a CHANGE.”
Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson