The Importance of Diversity in the Workplace: KCare’s DEI Committee

KCare’s Cultural Advocacy Team (CAT) exists to promote a good company culture for all employees. CAT arranges everything from team bonding events to DEI listening sessions. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee Co-chairs Emily Parks and Tawanna Chapman took some time to answer our questions about creating and maintaining a DEI Committee. If you’re looking for information on how to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in your organization, you’ve come to the right place!

When and how did the DEI Committee come to be?

KCare has been intentionally surveying staff in various ways over the past several years. Out of these surveys & discussions with other staff, we saw a need to focus & bring to the forefront a deep dive into the way we honor, value, & represent all the amazing people who work at KCare.

How does the DEI teamwork with leadership?

The DEI team will gather data & feedback, then outline strategies to address them through the lens of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion. We will examine implicit bias & other factors that present a place to improve as a company. The committee will outline detailed ideas, examples, & training to address these needs.


What does a typical DEI Committee team meeting look like?

It's in the name, Diversity! Our meeting plan for this year includes looking at the 3 components of DEI. We will be starting with Diversity this quarter & digging into feedback from surveys and discussions with staff to pull out ideas for improvement that we can present to leadership. We are also working closely with the CAT Activities committee to include activities that can further help or educate key areas of the DEI Committee. In addition, our meeting “vibe” is very open, optimistic, and unguarded. Although there are a variety of opinions, we maintain good energy & respect for one another which allows for effective collaboration.

What advice would you give to a leadership team that is interested in creating a DEI Committee?

Consider having your employees create the DEI Committee and having leadership work closely with staff. This will create the flow of information from the bottom up. When leadership buys into employee feedback & implements ideas that come directly from staff, you create a sense of empowerment & trust where staff feels heard. When the staff feels appreciated, they take more pride in their work - everyone wins! One of the best ways leaders can prepare to work with a DEI committee is to find a book & start looking internally at their thoughts & beliefs & be open to feedback (ex. Diversity In The Workplace by Bärí A. Williams). Lastly, be prepared to incorporate DEI initiatives into budget planning. For example, it may be helpful to hire a DEI consulting agency to be involved with the initial development stages. This may be viewed as an extra expense; however, it can be extremely beneficial & crucial to your company’s growth.

Is there anything else you’d like other company leaders to know about DEI in the workplace?

DEI will be specifically looking at norms that may challenge the historical perception of leadership in the workplace. As we all continue to learn & stretch together, we challenge us all to be open to listening & reflecting. We can all agree that we'd like our company to run better than the world at large currently.

What is one bite-sized action a company can take today to begin creating a more inclusive workplace?

There are many ways to take small steps that show your inclusion of everyone. Using personal pronouns in your email signature is helpful to the LGBTQIA+ community, but also to supervisors & co-workers. We employ people from all over the world so it would be silly of us to think we can tell gender from a name! When in doubt use 'They'. Another way to show inclusion is to be cognizant of language. Create materials in various languages for staff whose first language isn’t English. Handbooks can be tailored to other languages to catch nuances that English speakers may not be aware of. Lastly, we recently had a great suggestion from our DEI Listening Session initiative, to remove the “Name” field from employment applications. This can help eliminate pre-biased stereotypes or assumptions regarding the candidate.


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