When we started this journey four years ago, I had no idea where the journey would take us. After reviewing the results of our first stock survey, I remember talking to my colleague, Fall, about what to do next. I had no idea but I was well aware that too often, conversations about equality are all theory and inaction. I did not want our work to become a fancy book that collected dust on a shelf. Now that I can look back on our journey and the actions we have taken successfully, I can share what we have learned, the mistakes we have made and the suggestions I will have for any organization that begins its equity journey.
- Talk to your front line staff. Ninety percent of the barriers to equity are known by the front team. They see it every day when they have to ask a person with a non-traditional education to take a burdensome standard test. Or when they require people to reach out in person when transportation may be a barrier, or even request documents that are not easily accessible. Survey the front line staff and the people you serve!
- Change what you can and change it fast. It is easy for organizations to want to spend time studying a problem rather than acting on it. Or want to gather every resource, every research, every idea before moving forward. My suggestion would be: Change what you can as fast as you can! Share what you change and why with your frontline team. This will encourage them to continue to find and operate based on barriers.
- Find out which barriers are not under your direct control, find out who controls them, and tell them. You will be surprised to find how many people do not understand that something has created a barrier. We have had many conversations over the past year at the local, state and federal levels about barriers we have uncovered. Every single person was open to conversation and willing to make changes.
- Empower your team to give ongoing feedback and identify additional barriers. This process should not be one-time. Capital work is ongoing and staff should be qualified to share when they see barriers.
Good luck on your journey!
For more information on the capital work of the National Able Network, see ours A discussion of capital here Or read our capital statements here.