February 20, 2019 - The Board of Directors for United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County formally adopted and signed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Vision Statement for the organization.
At the close of 2017, we, United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County’s staff and board of directors, adopted our 2108-20, three-year strategic plan. Anyone who knows the inner workings of our organization knows that our strategic plans are not shelf-sitting, dust-collecting documents. These plans are living documents, upon which we build our annual organizational and departmental work plans.
In 2017, when we crafted our latest three-year plan, we included a goal to “Increase our diversity and equity knowledge to strengthen our behaviors, practices and values”. When we wrote those words we weren’t exactly sure what roads this would lead us down, but we knew they were roads we must travel.
Over the course of 2018, we determined how we could meet our goal. We set education plans, including staff and board participation in the local Racial Equity Institute workshops, that would inform our work. We began a deep internal evaluation process using the Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks toolkit and are building our annual work plans in accordance to our findings. We also set our budget to accommodate DEI strategies.
And so on February 20, 2019, our staff and board of directors formally adopted and signed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Vision Statement that will serve as our public facing promise to our community that we are dedicated to walking a new path. This vision statement is also our touchstone to remind us - as individuals and as an institution - of the work yet to do.
There are a few things we want to be upfront about in sharing this news with you.
- There is nothing about us sharing the story of our journey that is meant to be seen as bragging. We are proud of our decision to start this work, but we also fully acknowledge that we should have started this sooner.
- There is nothing about us sharing the plans that should be seen as us claiming to be done with this work or having all the answers - we are all clear that we have a long way to go and we are not experts.
- We do hope, that as we share our story (our plans, successes and failures) in the months and years to come, you will learn something or share something with us. We hope you will be inspired to take your own personal or organizational journey. We hope you will let us know about opportunities for us to grow with others and we hope that you will join us in our efforts.