One of the most rewarding experiences I have had working at Imagine Housing has been as part of the Cultural Competency Committee (CCC.) Imagine Housing formed the CCC last year and it is made up of Imagine Housing employees, Board members and staff from our property management company, FPI Management. As a committee we identified the following goals for what we hope to achieve:
- Identify, incorporate and live best practices in cultural competency
- Diversify staff and Board
- Deepen understanding of institutional racism and poverty
- Develop a common language to discuss cultural competency
- Conduct an external review of policies and practices and improve our policies and practices based on this review
- Engage and reach out to a broader audience
- Reduce barriers to people accessing our organization, including our leadership positions
- Build awareness and valuing of the existing diversity among our staff and Board
- Make improvements from a place of increased knowledge and awareness
- Lead conversations and advocacy regarding poverty, oppression and homelessness in the broader community
A few months ago staff, property management and Board members viewed the RACE: ARE WE SO DIFFERENT? exhibit and participated in the workshops led by the City of Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative. We started out by examining our own beliefs about race, advantage and justice. By understanding and acknowledging our own biases, we are able to be more intentional about treating people fairly going forward. We saw historical and contemporary examples of institutional racism in the exhibit and we had the opportunity to look at our own organization to make sure we do not perpetuate institutional racism here.
We have made progress on many of the goals we set. We have rewritten our job descriptions to make sure they focus on essential job functions and welcome all qualified applicants. We have streamlined our job posting process and have broadened our posting locations. We are using more diverse interview teams and an anti-bias training video to help make sure the interview process is fair and nondiscriminatory. We are working on getting property management forms and paperwork translated into different languages and making sure our resident screening process is not discriminatory.
It is exciting to see the progress we have made in such a short time, yet there is still much work to be done. Becoming culturally competent is an ongoing process and I am glad we as an organization are engaged and committed to this important work.
~Hester Winn, Office Manager and HR Administrator