To do our work effectively, our programs and actions must be relevant, responsive, and accountable to the places and people we serve. As a historically white-led environmental education organization, we recognize the legacy of racism, injustice, and anti-Blackness within our field, and understand that we have perpetuated and benefited from racism. It is our responsibility to use our unearned privileges to combat racism and stand with those fighting for justice.
Staff members have been prioritizing the advancement of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) within IslandWood’s work for some time. In 2019, we formally made commitments to operationalize JEDI principles throughout the organization, in all aspects of our work, and laid out specific priorities to move this work forward. We are committed to the work required to make continual progress on our goals and to being held accountable to these goals.
In 2019, as part of our ongoing equity work, IslandWood made the commitment to focus in particular on race equity. We are focusing on race equity, not because we believe other inequities don’t exist or aren’t vitally important, but because in the United States one’s race – more than any other factor – is the biggest determinant of educational outcomes, wealth, health, exposure to environmental pollutants and hazards, and life expectancy.
We understand there is an inextricable connection between educational justice, environmental justice, and racial equity. This work is not ancillary, or “outside” of IslandWood’s mission. It is central to our work in environmental education, and of inspiring healthy communities and a healthy planet.
For this fiscal year, which runs from July 2020 to June 2021, we’ve decided to set goals quarterly so that we can assess progress and necessary next steps every three months. Below are our priorities for Quarter 1 (July – September 2020).
This priority was set to ensure the communities we serve are treated as key stakeholders in our work. External voices and feedback are critical in evaluating if our programs, services, and communications are being received as culturally responsive, inclusive, and accessible, as well as highlighting where we need to continue to evolve and improve.
Update on priority:
We have identified community stakeholders across a variety of our programs and audiences to participate in providing feedback via a survey and personal interviews. We anticipate gathering feedback by the end of September and synthesizing responses in early October, with the intention of acting on feedback as soon as is possible.
In our last fiscal year, we focused on training organizational leaders to ensure our leadership team and managers had a shared understanding and commitment to equity work. Now, we need to continue that work by creating JEDI learning opportunities for all staff. We know that for us to show up in the world as an anti-racist organization it’s critical we provide these opportunities for everyone working at, and on behalf, of IslandWood.
Update on priority:
Following an internal all-staff JEDI survey and our commitment to providing a workplace that is safe for BIPOC employees, we have planned a series of training sessions focused on microaggressions in the workplace. It will include several short videos selected by the staff-run JEDI Council, to be watched and discussed during departmental team meetings; an online training program; and live (remote) workshops dually led by external BIPOC and non-BIPOC facilitators. These training opportunities will begin in October and end by late November 2020. In addition, we have been inviting and including board members in facilitated JEDI discussions with our leadership team.
For us to make organization-wide progress, all staff need to be aware of our JEDI priorities, process, next steps, and outcomes.
Update on priority:
To increase our communication around, and transparency of, our JEDI work with our staff, we’ve instituted the following changes: JEDI work is now a separate agenda item at every monthly all-staff meeting; weekly Leadership Team meeting notes are emailed to all-staff; and a quarterly Leadership Newsletter will be shared with all staff that outlines, by department, work, decisions, and outcomes as a result of JEDI prioritization.
Our plan for fiscal year 2019 (July 2018 – June 2019) included the following five organizational goals for advancing JEDI. Below are the goals and also our progress toward completing them.
Being able to articulate why equity work is a strategic imperative for achieving our mission is a critical next step for us. This effort is underway and should be ready to share publicly in the Spring 2019.
Update on goal: We cannot have thriving, sustainable communities or a thriving, sustainable planet without equity embedded in our communities. This goal led to our commitment to building a race equity culture at IslandWood.
Recognizing the abundance of resources already in existence to support organizations like ours, our Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Council recommended Awake to Woke to Work for adoption. This toolkit is designed to help nonprofits build a race equity culture. Our Leadership Team will now undertake the work of adapting the toolkit to IslandWood.
Update on goal: We adopted the Awake to Woke to Work toolkit and our departments are in various stages of implementing or adapting the toolkit to their particular work. This work strongly influenced our fiscal 2020 priorities.
Since 2015, all teams at IslandWood have completed annual Cultural Capacity Professional Growth Plans. While this process has led to growth, it has largely been completed in isolation from operational goal setting. By integrating equity goals with operational goals, we will build in greater accountability.
Update on goal: Our Human Resources team created a new performance assessment tool that prompts conversation and leads to setting individual JEDI goals for all staff members. It will be rolled out in fiscal year 2020.
We’ve noticed that the teams that are effectively reducing bias and advancing equitable practices are led by directors and senior leaders who are prioritizing this work for themselves and their teams. We want to ensure our leadership team has a shared understanding and commitment to equity work, and that they are on personal journeys to examine their biases, assumptions, and role in systems of inequity and oppression.
Update on goal: We held two half-day equity trainings led by Fleur Larson Facilitation for staff on our leadership team and all staff in managerial or supervisory roles.
Like many nonprofits who are trying to get a lot done with limited resources, our hiring practices are largely decentralized. Because of this, it’s possible that equity is a focus for one position, while not for another. This year we will establish norms that will include changes to the recruitment, interview, selection, and onboarding processes to ensure equity is operationalized throughout and across all teams.
Update on goal: Our HR team established norms and made a significant amount of changes in our processes, including centralizing the hiring process; prioritizing POC candidates specifically for opportunities where non-POC staff are dominant; offering IslandWood application form as an option for applicants who do not have a formal resume; all applicants are asked to respond to a general JEDI question and do not advance to interview phase if their response does not indicate a commitment to social justice equity, diversity and inclusion; salary range and work schedule are clearly stated on all job postings; job descriptions focus on what is required for position, without excessive experience and education requirements; investment in advertising to expand job listings to reach a larger POC applicant pool; reducing number of staff at interviews; when practical including the HR Director in interviews as a voice of IslandWood, for objective observation and interview feedback; and providing open enrollment benefits packages in Spanish.
IslandWood does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, disability, pregnancy, genetic information, marital status, amnesty, or status as a covered veteran. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all guests, students, members of staff, clients, volunteers, and vendors.
IslandWood acknowledges that we live and work on the ancestral land of the Coast Salish people, who have been stewards of this region's land and waters since time immemorial, and who continue to protect these lands and waters for future generations, as promised by the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855, the Treaty of Point No Point of 1855, and the Treaty of Medicine Creek of 1854.
While the majority of our work takes place on Suquamish (suq̀ʷabš) and Duwamish (dxʷdɐwʔabʃ) land, we also conduct programs on the land of the Snohomish (sduhúbʃ), Puyallup (spuyaləpabš), Muckleshoot (buklshuhls), Skokomish (sqoqc’bes), and S’Klallam (nəxʷsƛ̕ay̕əm) peoples.
4450 Blakely Ave. NE, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110 206.855.4300
IslandWood is a registered 501c3 charitable organization.
A Special Thanks to our corporate sponsor
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