ESC’s Journey into Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

by Lynn Post, Interim Director of ESC Consulting and Director of ESC Northern New England

ESC’s learning community of consultants, fellows, board members and staff participated in a three-part training series around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in June. About 50 participants were engaged in deep and meaningful conversations on topics such as implicit bias, equity vs. equality, microaggressions, and the benefits to individuals and organizations of diversity, equity and inclusion.

We were fortunate to be led by facilitator James McKim, President of the Manchester, NH NAACP, and Chair of the Episcopal Church’s National Executive Council Committee Anti-Racism. James created a “gracious space”[1] for our learning community to bring our best selves to reflect on how history, our own behavior, and systemic and institutional racism contribute to ongoing inequalities, lack of organizational performance, and unequitable opportunities for all people to survive and thrive.

We planned this training well before the murder of George Floyd in late May and the ensuing demonstrations and protests throughout the nation and the world. The ESC community was grateful to have a venue to process these events and discuss how to effect changes in our own lives. Although we were on Zoom, we were able to discuss, contribute and engage through the chat box, open mikes, and breakout rooms. Attendees especially enjoyed the breakout rooms where we’d be given a question to consider, and then were assigned a room randomly with colleagues, acquaintances, or new friends to discuss serious questions in a venue that was surprisingly intimate for a remote meeting.

Consultants, fellows, and ESC staff volunteered effusive appreciation of these events, with quotes such as:

“Thanks very much James. This was enlightening and important training” Jane Mann

“Diversity leads to looking at issues from multiple points of view, not just the view of people like oneself, so therefore allows for more ways to approach complex issues,” Denise Boyd

“This training has made me think a lot more deeply about inequality in our society,” Claire Larrabee.

“I found the video on Microaggressions very enlightening and I shared it with my entire family,” Meryl Fink

ESC’s goal is to examine our own biases, learn about the value of DEI in an organization, and prepare ourselves to help clients increase effectiveness through DEI. During a project kickoff meeting on June 24 for an agency that serves people with developmental disabilities, consultant Jeff Smith, said “We can help them question how diversity, equity and inclusion affects their services, staffing, and program quality.” Excellent Jeff! That’s bringing a DEI lens to our work.

ESC has partnered with the YW Boston to develop further training on DEI. The YW Boston will conduct workshops on Race, Equity and Inclusion and Organizational Change as part of our fall, 2020 onboarding series.

[1] A gracious space, as defined by the Center for Ethical Leadership, is “a spirit and setting in which we invite the stranger and we learn in public.” It’s about bringing our best intention into every interaction and to draw out the best intentions and spirit of others.