Post image for Diversity Institute

(This post is a part of the Diversity & Inclusion blog salon led by Online Curator Jacqueline E. Lawton for the 2013 TCG National Conference: Learn Do Teach in Dallas. Check out further Diversity & Inclusion interviews on Jacqueline’s blog.)

TCG launched its first ever Leading the Charge: Diversity and Inclusion Institute. It was extraordinary! As soon as we walked in the room, you could tell it was the start of something monumental, inspiring and wonderful.

Diversity has been a long-standing core value for TCG and this institute comes out of the urgent conversations at 2012 National Conference in Boston and the 2012 Fall Forum on Governance: Leading the Charge. What’s great is that this institute is a three year initiative that endeavors to empower attendees with the tools to build diversity and inclusion action plans at their theatres.

Facilitators Carmen Morgan, Leslie Ishii and Libby Peterson guided us through several a hands-on, action-oriented and insightful activities and discussion.

The day’s objectives were to:

  • Get to know one another better, beyond our titles and organizational roles: we started with a rousing name game that tapped into cultural heritage, religious traditions, familial legacies (some were honored, others overturned), the lasting impact of a favorite song, First Lady or beloved aunt, and how a name can open the doors to new life and the building of character.
  • Explore effective strategies for successful diversity and inclusion initiatives: I’ll be blogging more about this soon, but for now the steps were

Stage 1: Establish Organizational Values

  • Leadership commitment and support is essential
  • Diversity and Inclusion should be tied to the Organizational mission and values
  • Document organization values in regard to diversity and inclusion—do not leave this to interpretation.

Stage 2: Access and Clarify Goals

  • Conduct appropriate organizational assessments; identify baseline attitudes and demographics, establish readiness
  • Clarify measurable goals and identify resources

Stage 3: Create a Plan

  • Create and action plan (short-term), strategic plan (long-term)

Stage 4: Create/Revise Policies, Systems and Structures

  • Create the organization structure, policies, systems, and support for ongoing diversity and inclusion efforts (ie. Diversity and inclusion workgroup, recruitment policies, affinity/resources groups, analysis and skills-based training)

Stage 5: Ongoing Reflection and Adjustment

  • Full implementation of the plan with appropriate policies, systems and structures in place.
  • Ongoing assessment, evaluation, adaptation
  • Dedicate time to skills-building – understanding the core skill and use of anti-bias language as a foundation to diversity and inclusion: We were given a list of terms to bring awareness to anti-bias communication around concepts and people. I’ll share that with you soon. This was one of the most fascinating and useful parts of the day for me. Language is powerful. The impact of a term used in ignorance or hate can be deep, lasting and dangerous. Of course, language is ever-changing as social awareness increases and more and more disenfranchised communities become empowered.
  • Provide resources and tools to TCG Member Theatres who are ready to begin developing organizational action plans: We were given an Action/Work Plan, a list of Best Practices for Diverse and Inclusive Recruitment Strategies and guidelines for Facilitating Intergroup Dialogue and Dealing with Challenging Behaviors. All of these amazing and enriching materials will be available for you.
  • Develop a foundation of trust and processes that will support a national resource network for ongoing peer learning, support, and accountability: This developed over the course of working through the day together. The compassion, respect and admiration I feel for each of the participants in that room is so deep. I ended the day in complete exhausted, but was brought life with such energy and enthusiasm each time I ran into one of them later in the evening. We went through something really special yesterday. And for all the delight, you must know that it wasn’t easy and at times, it wasn’t comfortable, but that’s what made it all the more necessary and uplifted.

Throughout the rest of the conference, I’ll be following the Diversity and Inclusion Track and will be tweeting and blogging each day. Be sure to follow along with me on Twitter and feel free to share any questions you might have as well.

To join the Conversation Online: use #TCG13 to join the @TCG and @dulcia25 on Twitter!

  • Jim Hart

    What a fantastic post. I see this as ongoing contribution to the dialog on arts entrepreneurship. There is a common interest between diversity/inclusion and the independence movement. Arts Entrepreneurship seeks to teach artists to create a niche, to carve out their piece of the pie, rather than aiming creative energies at the market as a whole. We seek to teach artists economy of action towards clearly defined goals. Thank you for an awesome post. I hope you’ll check out some of mine too. We share a voice.

    Jim Hart.