Diversity, Equity and Inclusion | West Suburban YMCA Newton, MA | West Suburban YMCA

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

February 8, 2021

The West Suburban YMCA is committed to putting action behind the words in our mission statement—“for all”—and has embarked on a long-term initiative to strengthen our organization’s diversity, equity and inclusion policies and actions.

Here are just some of the action steps we’ve been taking in our effort to become an anti-racist organization:
 

  1. In celebration of Black History Month, staff are encouraged to wear black on Fridays in February. In doing so, we are wearing black to honor Black contributions to our society, to celebrate Black excellence, to raise awareness to systemic racism and oppression, and express our unity with those who are working daily to fight injustice, prejudice and inequity.  
  2. All staff are encouraged to participate in Y-USA’s professional development sessions Dimensions of Diversity and Cultural Lenses. One of our team members has become a certified trainer in the Cultural Lenses workshop to implement this course internally and with other local Ys.
  3. Since June 2020, weekly staff conversations have provided a safe space for any interested staff to reflect on a shared reading, podcast, or video about racial equality and social justice. Click here to see the resources we have been exploring together. These meetings grew out of a first session that invited staff to share their feelings in response to the murder of George Floyd.
  4. Our Vice President of Human Resources recently participated in an intensive six-week long learning opportunity to understand the construct of racism within the U.S.  This workshop titled Undoing Racism was hosted by Y-USA and facilitated by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. In addition, our Member Systems Manager has been invited to represent the West Suburban YMCA on a state level by joining the Massachusetts Alliance of YMCAs’ Diversity and Inclusion Group.
  5. West Suburban YMCA staff are encouraged to participate in events sponsored by the MA Alliance of YMCAs and Y-USA, such as workshops on Deconstructing Race and Becoming an Anti-Racist.
  6. Staff are encouraged to participate in Unlearning Systemic Racism Virtual Town Halls Hosted by the Y’s African American CEOs to continue the discussion on a national level on the critical topic of unlearning systemic racism.  If interested, you can view the first town hall that took place in July 2020 here.  There is a second Unlearning Systemic Racism Virtual Town Hall on February 24, 2021 from 11 am- 2 pm.  All are invited to participate (staff, volunteers and community members), and the event is also open to the public. A speakers list and agenda will be available in the coming weeks, but early registration is available now through this link.  
  7. Guest speakers from local organizations have recently presented in all staff meetings.  These presentations included “Black Newton” by Historic Newton.  As well as a presentation to learn about Story Starters, a Newton organization who uses children’s literature to give families the tools and support to talk about race and racism and to engage in family-centered social justice conversations.
  8. We are in the process of developing a diversity, equity and inclusion statement for the West Suburban YMCA. This statement will include: what diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) means to our Y; why DEI matters to us; and how we approach DEI. All employees will be invited to review and take part in the discussion. This statement will be integrated into our website and marketing materials, our hiring and onboarding process, employee performance reviews, and our employee informational guide.

 

Over the coming months we look forward to sharing how we will deepen our work in this critical arena. We welcome your thoughts about how we can strengthen the Y’s role as a leader in anti-racist principles and practices in our community.

If you would like to share ideas or thoughts, please reach out to Laura Snow at lauras@wsymca.org.

We do not share these actions to claim credit. They are not, and cannot be, considered sufficient to address the centuries-long racial injustice that has persisted in this country. We do share them, however, to hold ourselves and our community accountable—and to encourage everyone to step up and do their part.

#WeWearBlack

Join us every Friday in February as we honor Black contributions to our society, celebrate Black excellence, raise awareness to systemic racism, and express our unity with those who are working daily to fight injustice, prejudice, and inequity.