By Donna Murphy, Resident Services Manager, HumanGood; Chair, LeadingAge California Equity Cabinet
Having spent over two decades in the aging services industry, I strongly believe there is no better time than the present to ensure that our field has diversity and inclusion, in all areas, be it on our boards or amongst our staff. So when LeadingAge California asked me to Chair the new Equity Cabinet, I was up to the task.
I want to see representation from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and more throughout our lines of service. Over the past 20 years, our field has been guided by leadership that did not represent the body of the industry. As we move into the future, demographic shifts will result in changing dynamics and different needs among our communities. Diversity and inclusion are no longer add-ons, but necessary tools for our field to advance and progress.
I agreed to Chair the Equity Cabinet because I believe this initiative is one of the most important initiatives and topics that LeadingAge California has engaged in. DEI work is critical to our advocacy efforts, as well as the work that LeadingAge California members do every day.
The Cabinet has identified four areas to focus on in the DEI Roadmap:
• First, we will focus on helping members expand diversity and inclusion in their workforce through mentorship, hiring practices, and opportunities for leadership. We believe our employees, at all levels, should reflect the people we serve. Everyone should have access to opportunity in our field.
• Second, we want older adults who reside in our communities and/or receive services from our members to feel safe and supported. To do this, we need to ensure that our workforce is well-trained. The Cabinet will be advising LeadingAge California as they create a DEI education library and resource center for members.
• Third, we want to ensure that LeadingAge California is helping to support its members who are undertaking DEI initiatives by providing knowledge management, such as sharing resources and compiling best practices in hiring and retention.
• Finally, we hope to help LeadingAge California members increase diversity and inclusion on their own boards and committees with a focus on industry-wide corporate governance and leadership.
LeadingAge California has secured grant support to hire a full-time Director of DEI Initiatives to oversee the DEI work of the organization and serve as a liaison to the Equity Cabinet. The new Director of DEI Initiatives will work with the Equity Cabinet to draft the DEI Roadmap, source education and resources for members, and support members’ own DEI initiatives.
I remember when I was first asked to bring my affordable housing residents to California’s Capitol for Resident Advocacy Day. I saw that the leadership did not represent my community. As we have moved into 2021, I see the results of LeadingAge California’s diversity and inclusion initiatives firsthand and am proud and happy to serve as we address this important initiative.
I believe that knowledge is power, and I commit to working with staff to provide regular updates to the LeadingAge California member community on the work of the Equity Cabinet, with the hope that members start to integrate the values of diversity, equity and inclusion into all of the wonderful work we do.