Ryther has been committed to creating an equitable environment that promotes courageous conversations, continually evolves, and uses an intersectional lens to ensure service and community without barriers through the work of our Equity and Social Justice Committees. They include the Accessibility Committee, Cultural Competency and Client Rights Committee, Diversity in Hiring and Retention Task Force, Gender Accessibility Task Force, People of Color Affinity Group, and White Accountability Group. Representatives from all of the committees and Ryther departments come together and meet to form the Hub Committee.
This summer, the Hub Committee has been hard at work. The committee is creating a charter and preamble that will guide all work done in the agency towards equity and social justice. This document acknowledges that there are many forms of bias that prevent equity: sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and classism, among others. However, it also recognizes that racism is deeply entrenched in our nation and society and that it is time to put our energy and efforts towards racial equity. Our hope is that leading with a racial equity lens will provide a framework, tools, and resources that can then be applied to other areas of marginalization as well.
Individual committees have been busy as well. Our newest committee, the Accessibility Committee, has been focused on setting goals and creating a charter of their own. This includes surveying staff about accessibility needs to determine the most pressing issues to address so we can best serve our clients, staff, and community. The Diversity in Hiring and Retention Task Force (DIHRTF) has been busy brainstorming ways to create a sense of community, even when we are working from home and don’t see co-workers in the office every day. This includes organizing a fun virtual staff trivia night and a socially distanced outdoor movie night.
In addition to strategizing ways to improve the agency and foster a sense of community, the committees serve to support staff. This summer, the nation felt the impact of the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others. While Ryther staff supported their clients, they also grappled with their own feelings. The People of Color Affinity Group offered a space for employees of color to process these feelings and emotions to support one another. The White Accountability Group similarly offered White employees a place to process current events and learn more about anti-racism.
This work is not easy, and it will not be finished quickly. However, we are working towards a vision in which Ryther is a racially equitable environment and a place where intersectionality is used positively to inform our work and therefore the experience of our clients, staff, and community.