Jacksonville CEO on DEI efforts focusing on being seen, valued and heard

ElderSource strives to create a respectful and supportive environment for all.

Jacksonville CEO on DEI efforts focusing on being seen, valued and heard

ElderSource, a nonprofit organization with a mission to provide vital support and resources to older adults and people with disabilities who are often left behind or excluded. We have a long history of understanding the needs of older adults and persons with disabilities, as well supporting our employees in carrying out our mission.

Since a long time, diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives (DEIs) have been a part of our company culture. As part of our DEI commitment, we adopted this statement in 2016 as our first public statement: ElderSource values everyone, including but not limited, to all nationalities and socio-economic backgrounds; abilities; races, genders; religious perspectives, sexuality and gender identity. In our quest to achieve our mission, we welcome the unique perspectives and experiences of everyone.

Since then, we've devoted significant time, energy and resources to our work on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEIB). We wanted to create a workplace where employees, volunteers and partners, as well as clients, felt respected, valued, accepted, and supported.

Staff training is a common practice in many workplaces. During the summer of 2020, the chaos made it clear that we should be doing more to educate staff about the differences between people. This includes those of different races, cultures and nationalities as well as genders, sexual orientations, gender identities, ages and abilities.

ElderSource has been expanding its initiatives over the last three years. We have also looked at ways to make our information and agency practices more accessible to the community. Staff created a logo to show our commitment. It included the word belonging in DEI. ElderSource's logo can now be seen on a number of communication pieces and recruitment announcements. Several other initiatives have been undertaken.

Board commitment

A new board committee will be created in 2021 to supervise the development of DEIB's plan for the agency. The committee charter includes the following:

Ensure that DEIB efforts of the agency are well-communicated both internally and externally.

The DEIB Committee established metrics for every area to ensure that efforts are ongoing and to monitor the progress. Resources are allocated for these efforts, in addition to establishing and tracking metrics. The agency has also added DEI language to its procurement process in order to ensure that selected vendors embrace diversity, equality and inclusion.

Commitment to employees

The Employee Resource group (ERG), an employee-led group formed in 2019, is a vital space not only to learn about our employees and engage them, but also a place for them to express their thoughts, feelings and ideas on a wide range of topics.

The ERG has presented on a variety of topics, including racial injustices and embracing LGBTQ culture at work, mental health and wellness, gratitude, and leadership skills. Employees are encouraged to take advantage of an expanded employee assistance program in addition to the ongoing training for staff and surveys that gather their perspectives. Surveys and staff meetings are regularly used to solicit their feedback, with the goal of making them feel more connected and supported.

Commitment to community

It is important to have information and resources available to the public, especially for those who may not speak English as their first language and those with disabilities. Visitors and callers who do not speak English can access information on our website and Helpline. The website has been ADA-compliant, and a wide range of printed materials is now available in Braille and large type. ElderSource presented a series workshops to provide important information and resources for older LGBTQ adults.