In May 2020, the graphic video of George Floyd’s death shocked the world and set in motion a great national reckoning with issues of inequity and racially inspired violence. These events galvanized our staff to refocus how our work to empower families, improve the addiction treatment system and end the addiction crisis can provide essential support in dismantling systemic racism.
A third of our staff volunteered to participate in an anti-racism task force to consider how to address our internal practices, bolster our services for families and increase our voice in support of anti-racism. We met bi-weekly and by the end of the summer, we created our first diversity, equity and inclusion strategic plan with a slate of specific action items. The initiatives are aligned with our commitment to anti-racism as a core tenet for our organization and our mission, which is integrated in our daily work, and formalized in our by-laws.
We took a significant early step to work with a consultant to conduct trainings and facilitate exchanges to ensure that diversity, equity and inclusion are effectively integrated in our culture as a shared commitment and responsibility. Some recommendations, such as changes to certain internal processes and increasing the amount of inclusive resources we can offer families, could be implemented immediately. Others required a longer-term approach to build capacity, assess priorities, work with external partners and secure resources.
Inspired by the work of our staff and like-minded activists across the country, we continue to look to the principles of anti-racism as a lodestar to guide our work going forward. The anti-racism task force is an ongoing part of this effort. It continues to convene monthly to discuss current and new initiatives, quantify outcomes and ensure that our community is regularly updated on progress and goals met. It is a great opportunity to rally around our shared commitment to anti-racism and our mission, to build on the advances completed so far, to expand our impact, and to work toward a more just and equitable community.
Our anti-racism work will always be a work in progress, but now we have a starting point.