This summer, Verbal Beginnings officially launched our Diversity & Inclusion Council, a staff-led initiative to educate families and staff and to work to develop solutions to create an equal opportunity for all. Here to share more about the work of the D&I Council is VB’s Aditi Bhatt and Gabrielle (Gaby) Elsey, M.H.A. Check it out!
Give us a quick overview of what the D&I Council is all about!
The Diversity and Inclusion Council is an environment where differences are heard, understood and reflected upon. As a council, we strive to educate families and staff on common barriers and work to develop solutions to create an equal opportunity for all. The council places high values on forthrightness, equity, cultural competence, compassion and inclusiveness.
What drew you to becoming one of the leaders for the D&I Council?
Aditi: Diversity and Inclusion is a big part of our world right now. Being part of this council at this time is a great experience. It allows us to learn why our uniqueness is important and shapes who we are. This council is a stepping stone and it’s my way in making progress to those positive changes I want to see in the world. Personally, this opportunity has opened doors for me in ways I did not expect- being in a leadership position, developing processes, being held accountable to disseminate D&I information to VB staff, the Clients and our communities. I am interacting with individuals who I am learning so much from; I normally do not get a chance to converse with them.
Gaby: In today’s society, “change” is important, and I am a firm believer that to avoid the problem, you must be a part of the solution. As an African American woman, emerging in a professional society, I feel that it is necessary to understand how I can educate young professionals and provide an opportunity that will allow us to be our true selves. The Diversity and Inclusion Council expands beyond understanding ethnic, religious, and cultural differences. It is the understanding of what makes people unique and how those uniquenesses do not hinder you from being an equal in your environment.
What kind of response have you gotten so far from VB staff?
The response has been so great so far! We have a wide range of individuals, Center staff, Field staff, Admin staff. Even our newest employees are excited to hear more about the D&I Council at Orientation.
What are some of the things the Council has been planning or dreaming up?
We are really excited about our new members who (we hope) will develop and host workshops that will provide training related to D&I trending topics or situations we believe are important in addressing when working with our clients, staff, or when in the community.
What would you say to anyone considering being part of a diversity or inclusion initiative at their companies?
Aditi: Taking the initiative to communicate your needs, ideas, and want for progress is strongly recommended. This is your chance to expose yourself to “we’re all different but alike.”
Gaby: The conversation may be difficult, but it is necessary. Open your mind to things that may not be familiar or comfortable. Your future self will thank you.