Walking the Talk: How CT Health Works on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion through the DiCE Committee

August 5, 2013

12-13-CLYBOURNEToday’s post was written by Brianna Moody, communications & policy intern at the Connecticut Health Foundation.

At the Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health), we believe that expanding health equity means helping more people of color gain access to quality health care. Addressing the inequities that exist involves regularly holding ourselves accountable for our own efforts to learn about increasing equity through diversity and inclusion.

Philanthropic work has the ability to perpetuate privilege, inequity, and exclusion as unintended consequences.  Here at CT Health, we choose to instead see our philanthropy as a key player in transforming white privilege. That’s where the DiCE committee comes in. This internal committee is a structure that we put in place where we can learn how to better leverage the privilege we have to achieve the equity we stand for.

“Learning about diversity, cultural difference, white privilege, and related topics does not have to be just an academic exercise,” said Elizabeth Krause, VP of Policy and Communications at CT Health and DiCE member. “The role of DiCE is to help us open-and keep open- our hearts and minds, and then put those learnings into practice in the business objectives of the Connecticut Health Foundation.”

DiCE stands for:

  • Diversity – we embrace the rich diversity contained within each individual and community;
  • inclusion (as a dimension of diversity) – we seek to include those who might have been historically excluded;
  • Cultural humility – a lifelong individual and organizational commitment to self-awareness, self-critique, learning, and  improvement;
  • Equity – creating a playing field where everyone has a fair shot.

CT Health has long been committed to increasing what we at one time called organizational cultural and linguistic competence.  Our past forays, however, tended to be episodic and we recognized a need for a permanent learning system to support our commitment.  A few years ago, we were inspired by the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s RESPECT group to start a cross-functional team at the employee level. After a conversation with RESPECT staff, we formed the DiCE committee and evolved our terminology to keep diversity, inclusion, cultural humility and equity at the center of our work.

We use DiCE as a locus for self-assessment and reflection with respect to our interactions and operations. DiCE provides a forum and sounding board for ongoing conversation about how we collectively value difference. It allows us the opportunity to learn more about each other’s cultural differences and practices. Through DiCE we sit down and examine and redefine our policies and procedures for how we work without diverse partners, stakeholders, and grantees.

DiCE AND THE INDIVIDUAL

DiCE, which meets monthly, started on an individual level with staff. We wanted to help everyone open up to conversations about race, and so we sponsored several organization-wide activities that engaged different sides of our brains through the arts.  For example, recently the committee sponsored a viewing of Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park at Longwharf Theater. As artistic director, Gordon Edelstein said, “Clybourne Park…offers two snapshots, one from the mid-twentieth century, and one from the dawn of the new millennium, in which the conversation about race and real estate, inextricably linked in our country, come to a climactic head.” Following the play, we got together and discussed our responses. We talked about our experiences and addressed the intersectionality of race, real estate, and class and what it means for health equity.

Opportunities such as this have led to a richer, more culturally attuned approach to our work and to each other.

FROM THE INDIVIDUAL TO THE ORGANIZATIONAL

Now in its third year, DiCE has moved from an individual level to an organizational level—an internal systems change. Last year,  our Health Leadership Fellows program was selected as one of three national pilot sites for “Transforming White Privilege: A 21st Century Leadership Capacity,” a W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded project to help leadership programs help their participants better identify, talk productively about and address white privilege, as a critical part of their  leadership skillset.  Fellows participated as well as staff, and the pilot took input from DiCE.

We’ve also used DiCE as a sounding board for how we can strengthen our media partnership with a local media outlet that serves a large ethnic community. DiCE has given us a way to have conversations about how we work with partners and share our values at the same time.

On an ongoing basis, DiCE is putting together a list of multicultural, multi-ethnic vendors in CT who we can use for catering, graphic design, and other services.  We are thinking beyond our grantmaking about how we can use our financial resources to support equity, diversity, and inclusion.  We’ve recently become a member of the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council (GNEMSDC) in order to work with diverse vendors. GNEMSDC works increase the procurement opportunities between corporate members and certified minority owned businesses– and we’re on board!

DiCE is growing. DiCE is inclusive. DiCE is a safe space. Above all else, DiCE is a learning experience. We value your input. How does your organization value diversity and cultural humility? Can you share anything we should consider when doing our work?

8 Responses to Walking the Talk: How CT Health Works on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion through the DiCE Committee

  1. Pat Baker says:

    Brianna, thank you for the thoughtful way you have captured our organization.
    I urge all that read this blog to share their thoughts, suggestions. Each of us individually and organizationally are striving to deepen our understanding and more practically improve how we meet our mission. Thank you, pat

  2. Terrific job Brianna. This is an on-going conversation and I encourage folks with all aspects to give their experience. I was recently on a NPR radio program to discuss Race in America (following the Trayvon Martin verdict). The panel discussed the importance of transforming and informing society. Too often, we do not have folks who opposed the concept at the table though. Even if you do not believe in Diversity & Inclusion…let’s talk….This is about our society and moving forward together for a better place to live, work and enjoy the gifts this world has to offer.

  3. Lina Paredes says:

    Great blog, Brianna! I really appreciate how you have explained our ongoing internal commitment to equity. As we say in the Health Leadership Program, “We have to walk the talk ourselves!”

  4. tom ficklin says:

    Having co led four community conversations about race-class and gentrification under the auspices of the new haven public library and the long wharf theatre using clybourne park as the contextual back drop, i am so glad to see this post. the conversations took place at each of the libaries four branches.

  5. David Hadden says:

    Congratulations to the DiCE committee and to CHF for taking on these critical issues in a thoughtful, courageous and respectful way.

  6. Sandy Cloud says:

    Well done Brianna!

    • Brianna Moody says:

      I want to thank you all for your kind words! Pat, I think you’re right. This is definitely a journey for the DiCE committee and the rest of CT Health. Through this committee we can be sure to evaluate and re-evaluate how we meet our mission through the DiCE principles. And Marilyn, thank you as well. DiCE is a safe space to have those on-going conversations, as challenging as they might sometimes be. Thank you Lina, Tom, David and Sandy for your thoughts as well! I can’t wait to see both the individual and organizational growth that DiCE will continue to bring to the foundation!

  7. Yolanda Caldera-Durant says:

    Briana thanks for your thoughtful blog on DiCE. It is important for CT Health to share our experiences and what we’re learning to truly live out the principles of diversity and inclusion.

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