Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiatives
Oriana House has a long-standing commitment to support equality, diversity, and justice for all people and is committed to finding ways to identify and reduce racial and ethnic prejudices.
Statement on Racial Inequality
We acknowledge and share the frustration and pain being felt across our country and in our own communities resulting from racial inequality.
A national public health crisis is an outcome of structural racism experienced by people of color in our country.
We acknowledge that racial inequality is embedded in generations of human culture and we need to find collective solutions to address and eradicate this injustice.
We support the call to respond to the discrimination, inequity, and injustices afflicting people of color in our country and in our neighborhoods. Racism negatively influences all areas of life such as healthcare, housing, education, employment, and criminal justice. Communities of color are more likely to experience profound negative consequences of social injustices.
Oriana House was founded to initiate criminal justice system reform and on the belief that all people can change. Our staff demonstrate this belief everyday with the work that they do with the individuals and the communities we serve.
Oriana House will draw on the commitment of our staff to be part of the change needed for healing and part of the solution as we build stronger and just communities.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee
The agency’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Committee was formed in 2020, when Oriana House President and CEO Jim Lawrence sought and received staff input on improving the agency’s efforts to build equitable, stronger communities. The DEI Committee is comprised of staff from all levels with diverse backgrounds, and new members are always welcomed. The Committee’s goals are to create new ideas and platforms for education, growth, and initiatives in the areas of DEI and assist in the development of sustained, evidence-backed, and engaging programming.
DEI Committee Initiatives
DEI Staff Survey
As a first step, a survey to gage the attitudes, values, and beliefs of the current staff was developed and implemented in 2021 with the guidance of a non-staff committee member with a Ph.D. in Sociology. The survey allowed anonymous participation from staff and had a return rate of 66%.
The majority (~90%) of employees felt Oriana House did as well or better than other organizations when it came to handling inclusion and discrimination. Survey data covered demographics, work environment, leadership, hiring and retention, interpersonal interactions, and programming. The survey results were shared with all staff are used to drive many of the actions of the committee. A follow up survey was conducted in 2023 to offer updated information and comparative data.
A professional DEI Education trainer was hired to present an in-depth, mandatory training series to address basic knowledge, history, terminology and ways to interact with individuals from varied backgrounds, including culture, race, sexual identity, and more. Separate trainings were designed for frontline staff and for supervisors who needed to learn ways to address sensitive topics with and between their staff.
To continue the educational process, Oriana House’s Staff Development Department offers on-going staff trainings on a variety of DEI topics. Additional learning opportunities include commercial media such as documentaries, movies, books and programs that allow staff to get training independently.
To keep DEI in the forefront, staff receive weekly email “snippets” that allow for short and meaningful educational opportunities to encourage self-examination on a multitude of potential situations that might create exclusion of others.
Videos featuring staff with different backgrounds answering questions that relate to their personal experiences were produced and shared. An example of these videos involved interviews with two Oriana House vice presidents; one Black with an urban background and one white from a rural community. Their descriptions of experiences with law enforcement and other routine encounters helped staff understand the impact of the reality that people from different backgrounds are not always treated the same. Because these interviews feature staff who knew each other and who were widely known throughout the agency, the messages were more impactful than if they had been testimonials from someone unknown.
Recognizing Celebratory Days
Oriana House now holds staff celebrations of Juneteenth (June 19th) and the DEI Committee has incorporated interactive ways for staff in all locations to commemorate days or months that are designated for various groups and causes.
Oriana House has partnered with local health departments, hospitals, community groups, and businesses to share lessons on healthcare disparities, enhance DEI efforts, participate in local festivals and events, and learn from each other’s experiences.
Individuals involved in Oriana House correctional and behavioral health treatment programs have participated in facilitated discussion groups with counseling staff to help process feelings around racial injustice and disparity. African American readings have been held by and for clients.