The Council’s annual conference on November 10, “Building Bridges: Workplace and Community” conference brought 55 people together, representing a wide range of area organizations. Participants learned about the work of the La Crosse Human Rights Commission to address discrimination and create a more welcoming and culturally aware community, and about promising practices for diversity and inclusion being undertaken by five large employers in the area.
Points of connection between community needs and workplace initiatives included:
–The value of hiring people who can serve customers, clients, patients, in their own language
–The need for people who work in our area to feel welcome and to have their participation and voices valued both within the workplace and in the larger community
–The benefits of exposing young people in the community to different career paths; for example, health care careers are not just about being a nurse or a doctor
–The promising practice of paid internship programs that can attract diverse young people to careers in government, also adding to the creation of stronger pipelines between young people and career paths
–The need to address issues of discrimination in the community; if you have faced discrimination in housing, public accommodations, or city facilities in La Crosse, follow this link to the Human Rights Commission to find out about filing a report.
Within workplaces specifically, presenters shared important information about the following:
–The careful planning, transparency, and protections for anonymity required to undertake an employee survey to understand people’s experiences regarding inclusion, equity, and diversity, and the need to follow up on surveys with concrete actions
–The imperative to operationalize stated organizational values, such as respect, making sure people have a clear idea of what respectful behavior and speech look like in various contexts relevant to the workplace.
–The value of careful planning around multi-pronged diversity and inclusion organizational initiatives, including and planning for racial justice training
–The value of creative, proactive work to recruit for diversity.