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Reiterating our Commitment to IDEA Values

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By Donna Mostiller, Senior Vice President of People and Culture

Last year, our agency was recognized at the third annual IDEA Awards, an event sponsored by Buffalo Business First to acknowledge organizations and people across western New York who place a special emphasis on inclusion, diversity, equity and awareness.

It takes tremendous commitment at every level of the organization to achieve an IDEA award.  Our board of directors has become increasingly diverse to better represent the communities we serve. Members of our leadership team participated in Cornell University’s Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program, and supervisors at various levels within our organization participated in Foundations of Leadership, a two-day in-person retreat training for director-level staff on allyship, privilege and cultural competencies. All employees are strongly encouraged to participate in events such as our Inclusion Café, and trainings in topics such as implicit bias.

Today, and every day, we work to commit ourselves to the values of inclusion, diversity, equity and access.

Last month, staff member Sara Taylor held an agency “Inclusion Café,” a peer-to-peer learning session that explored many topics concerning mental health. This month, staff members Tiffany Tolbert and Alana Martin will lead a discussion on the Juneteenth federal holiday. Our book club, which is open to all staff, has discussed the book How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram Kendi over the past few months. We continue to analyze our policies and practices through a racial justice lens as part of the Urban League of Rochester’s INTERRUPT RACISM change team training program.

This month, our staff members will share their perspectives on the success of our inclusion, diversity, equity and access efforts. As part of our participation in the Rochester Business Journal’s Best Companies for DEI program, we will survey our staff on this important topic. While this program’s purpose is to recognize outstanding places of employment for DEI, we plan to use the results to advance a working environment at Heritage Christian Services that is welcoming, inclusive and diverse.

The recent tragic event in Buffalo highlights the importance of eliminating racism in all of its forms and creating environments where all people can feel safe, included and celebrated.  Heritage Christian Services, through its mission and its commitment to equity and justice, challenges each of us to move forward with this important work.