LifeWire is committed to the ongoing work of racial equity and social justice. We are actively working to change systems that perpetuate racism and inequality, beginning within our own organization. Over the last several years, we’ve taken steps to make our practices and policies more equitable. We’ve woven racial equity into our strategic plan and values, increased the racial diversity of our staff and board, reviewed our policies and practices with a racial equity lens, and trained our staff, board, and volunteers on anti-oppression work.
Racial Equity Values
Our Racial Equity Values guide our racial equity work and hold us accountable. Our values were crafted from staff conversations and with feedback from staff and board.
We built our continuing commitment to racial equity work into our 2021-23 Strategic Plan. One of our goals is to cultivate racial equity and increased accountability at LifeWire through internal capacity building, measurement, hiring, training, and outreach with BIPOC communities.
Racial Equity Change Team
The Racial Equity Change Team comprises staff from across the agency and works to improve policies and practices around racial equity both within and outside of LifeWire. Change Team members facilitate monthly equity-focused training for all staff and create additional learning opportunities through collaborations with external resources. In addition to monthly meetings and training, sub-committees focus on specific tasks that need targeted attention. Members also collaborate with members of our Board’s Equity Committee on agency-wide projects.
Learning about racial equity is a lifelong process. New employees and volunteers who take our Advocacy Training course begin with a staff-led Anti-Oppression Workshop. Staff and volunteers are encouraged to read books from our Anti-Oppression Reading List. We devote time to racial equity and anti-oppression training at our monthly staff meetings. We also bring in outside trainers and facilitators to periodically work with staff and board.
We acknowledge that systemic, institutional inequities and bias exist, creating barriers to achievement and well-being. LifeWire is committed to enabling the achievement of all regardless of race, disability, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or religion. We encourage survivors of domestic violence and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) individuals to apply.
Our Change Team’s Hiring Committee reviews and updates our hiring practices yearly through an equity lens. Based on their recommendations, we have made many changes, including updating the language we use in our job postings to decrease jargon and eliminate barriers. Interviewees are now given interview questions in advance and time to review them, and each hiring panel must include at least one BIPOC staff member. These and other changes increased BIPOC representation on staff from 34% to 49% and at the managerial level from 30% to 45%.
Retention & Promotion
LifeWire is working to improve BIPOC representation at the leadership level through practices that build and promote staff from within the organization. This includes developing a mentorship program that connects staff with board members and community leaders. We are also addressing the mental and emotional well-being of staff by re-envisioning caseload capacity and workload expectations. And we are developing and incorporating safe space principles, including the use of a harm reduction process.