Reflections: Learning and Working From DEI Principles

Ahmeed Turner explains how and why we prioritize with our staff the importance of learning about and practicing equity.

Reflections: Our Personal & Professional Efforts Toward Racial Equity is a monthly blog. Each month, we will reflect on what we are doing either personally or professionally to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in our work. View more

View our Equity Values & Commitment


How does a community benefit by diversifying its economic portfolio across race?

According to the World Economic Forum, companies reap multiple economic benefits from nurturing an inclusive and diverse workforce.  Research has shown that this type of work environment brings additional skills, ideas, and perspectives.  Additionally, the World Economic Forum reports that “diversity is also important on a wider scale, beyond the company level”.  Cities that have been found to be open, forward-thinking, and competitive maintain a strong economic footprint in their respective regions.

Our vision for the region is that Central New York is a thriving community with opportunity for everyone.  The English definition of thrive is: “to grow, or develop; prosper, or flourish”.  In order to actualize our vision, we have to start with our policies, board and staff.  We know that by continuously embracing an internal model of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), we will be able to deploy our resources into the community most effectively.

I once heard that, “you can’t teach someone how to be happy if you are not happy”, and happiness is achieved through intentional decision making, and action.  If we cannot be taught to be happy by unhappy people, we should not expect that we can combat racist economic structures in the community if we are not 1) looking inward at ourselves 2) being intentional about our internal structures and decision making processes, and 3) being focused in our action internally and outwards to the community.

That is why we have incorporated racial equity training into our standard onboarding procedure for all new employees.  We understand that equipping ourselves with this training will give us the proper perspective needed to work alongside residents to have a greater impact on the community.  Topics covered include an understanding of what equity really means and how systemic and structural racism plays a role in the issues that we address through our work.

We also understand that DEI is not a moment in time.  It evolved considerably since our initial launch and has continued to.  As such, we encourage our staff to continue their individual learning to enhance their equity competencies. We offer each staff member the opportunity to complete periodic Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI)© assessments and consultations. In addition, we provide staff reimbursements toward the cost of trainings, books and learning materials of their choice.

These efforts allow us to remain focused and intentional about the kinds of things that ensure opportunity for everyone, including in our work place.

As we reflect on Black History Month and the accomplishments that Black, Latino, Indigenous and Asian/Pacific Islander people have had in the United States, we should also think about how equitable access and connection to more economic opportunity would enhance a thriving community.

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