Equity and Social Justice at DESC
DESC’s Equity and Social Justice Committee formed in December 2016 to advance equity, social justice and cultural competency at DESC, particularly regarding race. Recognizing the importance of effectively managing conflicts among diverse groups and identities, the committee has collaborated closely with DESC leadership to address this challenge and prevent implicit bias and discrimination within the organization. The collaboration among staff and leaders has been instrumental in driving our internal equity work thus far. Together, they created the following mission statement:
We recognize that positive intentions are insufficient to create change. We commit to acting to change the impacts of historic, systemic, and institutional oppression. Our team is a model for embracing differences and disagreements, harnessing them into a positive force that moves us toward the goal of ensuring all staff and clients have equitable access to explicit and implicit privileges and benefits at DESC.
What actions is DESC taking to advance equity and social justice within the agency?
We are prioritizing our equity and social justice work in a variety of ways:
- Client services: We continue to create an environment where all clients are treated with dignity, respect and fairness, and where their unique needs and experiences are recognized and supported. We ensure that the services provided by DESC are equitable and inclusive, and promote social justice for all our clients.
- Recruitment and retention: Continuous improvement in creating and maintaining a workforce that reflects the diversity of the community we serve, breaks down barriers to employment and ensures that all employees have equal opportunities to succeed and thrive within the organization.
- Workshops and training: Throughout the year, DESC organizes workshops and training sessions that promote deeper understanding of equity and social justice concerns and issues. These sessions foster collaboration among our staff, ensuring a comprehensive approach to education and awareness.
- Policies, procedures and practices: Continuous review, development and implementation of organizational policies and procedures through an equity lens to ensure fairness, inclusivity and equal opportunities for all individuals within the organization.
- Leadership: community members with backgrounds relevant to our work have historically made up our board of trustees. In recent years, we have placed special emphasis on recruiting members who also contribute to diversity on the board itself. At the staff level, we recognize the lack of diversity in our management staff and are making deliberate efforts to develop and recruit a more diverse set of future leaders.
- Collaboration in caucuses: DESC’s staff is provided with opportunities to participate in caucuses, which are groups within our organization who come together to discuss important matters and experiences in the workplace. These caucuses serve as spaces for sharing, support, and understanding, without judgment or fixing. DESC’s current caucuses include:
- BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Caucus | for employees who identify as Black, Indigenous or People of Color
- White Anti-Racist Planners (WARP) | for employees who identify as White
- African Immigrant Meeting (AIM) | for employees who identify as African immigrants
- Trans/ENBY/GE Caucus Group | for employees who identify as trans-, two spirit, gender queer, non-binary, intersex and any additional self-identified gender expansive identities.
- Feminist Caucus | a caucus dedicated to advancing feminist principles and addressing gender-based inequities.
- Peer Caucus |