Leading Toward Equity: Stories of Organizational Change
School of Public Affairs convenes panel to discuss social equity in nonprofit and private sectorsEmma Martz | School of Public Affairs Sep 29, 2020
The webinar featured panelists in both the private and nonprofit sectors who discussed their stories of organizational transformation, including Maggie Gómez, Deputy Director for the Center for Health Progress; Alicia Jessip, Inclusion and Diversity Manager for TEKSystems; Armando Martín, CEO, XL Edge and Board Chair for Servicios de La Raza; and Joe Sammen, Executive Director for the Center for Health Progress. The discussion was moderated by John Ronquillo, Assistant Professor at CU Denver School of Public Affairs.
The panelists shared the stories of organizational change that each of their organizations has undergone pertaining to equity. Martín touched on the discomfort that comes with discussing race, as well as an organization’s struggle with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). In terms of equity, he said, “It’s hard to get to equity when there is not diversity or inclusion first,” explaining that DEI is a process in and of itself.
Gomez noted that when referring to the need for internal change within an organization in order to promote equity, “It’s not just about changing policies, practices, and procedures, but also the culture of an organization.”
Sammen described how the work toward equity perpetually ongoing. “It’s about a process, a destination, and a journey, because there is always more work to do.”
Jessip explained the importance of defining what equity means for you and for your organization. She also spoke about her personal experiences, and how they create relatability. “Change starts to happen when we build bridges for relatability, and we use that to create new shared experience,” she said. According to her, this is the foundation for equity.
When speaking about the biggest challenges they have face in creating equity in the workplace, the panelists listed exposing whiteness, the use of systems thinking, and moving beyond simply crafting new mission statements. They reinforced the idea that this is long term work—personally and professionally.
The panelists closed the event with some words of encouragement. Martín emphasized that empathy, courage, and especially heart are needed to keep fighting for equity. Jessip and Gómez cautioned that self-care is important when doing this kind of work, and that by preserving some energy for yourself, you can use this energy to support others who need it.
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