September 15, 2020
Board Chair Statement on DEI
Our country and our communities are experiencing a time of unprecedented challenges and an awakening of the need to come to terms with racial injustices and inequities. As an organization steeped in a tradition of being a transformative presence in the lives of those we serve, Hillsides commits to addressing these challenges that are rooted in historic and institutional inequalities.
Our Board of Directors has taken the unprecedented step of leading Hillsides down a path of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) with its recent adoption of a robust DEI statement that is intended to have all levels of the organization consider systemic changes with these principles in mind. We have established a work group composed of board members, senior leadership and direct care employees to identify the impact these inequalities have on the organization and develop a plan of action to remedy the situation. Our goal is not only to create a more diverse organization but to also ensure that we serve as an instrument to advance equity and justice for those we serve.
It is undeniable that the impact of the care provided by Hillsides is diminished by the pervasive nature of racism that undermines the wellbeing of those we serve. And we are not unique in our desire to adapt to the changing client because we recognize that it is in the best interest of our organization and our clients to be part of the change that is sweeping the country. It is our clients’ determination to improve their lives that inspires us as an organization to seize this moment and address whatever systemic biases impede the fulfillment of our mission to help those we serve so that they heal, grow and thrive.
As we begin this process, we share the attached statement as a way of engaging all our stakeholders in this critical conversation with the hope that it will lead to creating a stronger and more effective Hillsides.
Debbe S. Booth,
Hillsides Board Chair
Stacey R. Roth,
Joseph M. Costa,
Hillsides Board Statement, adopted September 10, 2020
For more than a century, Hillsides has served the greater Los Angeles area by healing children and young adults, strengthening families and transforming communities through comprehensive services and advocacy. Imperative to the continued success of the organization and ensuring the best possible care for these clients and communities is a board of directors that, individually and together as one, is committed to the highest standards of diversity, equity and inclusion at all levels of the organization.
We acknowledge that to uphold this commitment requires a proactive approach that begins by taking responsibility for our own intentions, behaviors and actions. In service of this statement, we commit to the following:
- Ensuring Hillsides board members, senior leadership, staff and volunteers are representative in the following areas, which represent the diverse clients and communities we serve: race, ethnicity, culture, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, faith, abilities, professional background, socioeconomic status, geographic representation, experiences and perspectives.
- Working to understand systematic inequities, patterns and challenges that are impediments to inclusively carrying out Hillsides’ mission and work.
- Celebrating and valuing differences in opinions and thoughts, and fostering an environment that encourages tough questions and frank and respectful discussions.
- Being open to expanding and developing our own understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion issues, and examining our own biases.
- Regularly setting and reviewing measurable diversity, equity and inclusion goals for the organization, holding ourselves accountable to these goals, and ensuring there’s transparency and clear communication on our progress.
We believe these are the first steps to cultivating an authentic, representative and inclusive climate in which Hillsides’ clients—and the organization itself—can heal, grow and thrive.
Commitments - How are we going to achieve these goals? How do we hold ourselves accountable?
Board of Directors
- Annually review board makeup, demographics to determine gaps (race, ethnicity, cultures, genders, gender expression and identity, sexual orientation, age, faith, abilities, socioeconomic status, geographic representation, experiences and perspectives)
- Expand and explore “innovative” recruitment methods
- Keep a list of potential board members who fall into the categories listed above
- Conduct research to identify and solicit community leaders or companies that have significant representation in the areas Hillsides serves
- Review former Hillsides clients, staff, donors for potential candidates
- Consider redefining and expanding H100 as a place to develop a network of potential board members new to the organization
- Remind all Board members that part of their service includes helping the Governance Committee to identify potential Board members by submitting names of people who fall into the categories above
Address equity barriers for board membership
- Recognize financial barriers that may dissuade candidates from joining the board and identify other ways for them to equitably contribute to the organization (tapping more heavily into skills or volunteerism outside Board requirements, introductions to personal and professional networks, etc.)
- Continue providing videoconferencing as an option for Board members who cannot travel to Hillsides due to geography, work or childcare commitments, etc.
Board orientation and belonging
- Ensure each new board member receives mandatory orientation to the organization and is assigned a mentor for his/her/their first year on the Board. The mentor shall be a member of the Board who has served for at least two years.
- Prioritize social interactions for board members to foster a better understanding of people on the board and different perspectives
- Challenge ourselves and others to think differently, and trust others to call us out when we’re not upholding these values
Tools and resources for board members
- Offer diversity and inclusion training annually for every board member
Board member roles and responsibilities
- Encourage board members to consider joining a different committee at the start of each new two-year board term (to prevent groupthink)
- To better understand how diversity, equity and inclusion impacts the organization’s operations—both positively and to identify opportunities—include time at Board meetings to address relevant programs or issues. Continue including staff guest speakers at Board meetings to educate on programs and challenges in the field.
Hillsides leadership and staff
- Hillsides senior staff (President & CEO, Chief Advancement Officer) continues to meet individually with each board member annually to ensure feelings of inclusion
- DEI Committee surveys staff to assess culture of inclusion and ask them to present ideas of what the Board can do to support
Set measurable goals and evaluate annually
- Survey board members annually to gather insights on feelings of inclusion and identify steps that can be taken to improve the environment
- Board members who exhibit behavior that is counter to this statement will be addressed. The Governance Committee will review, and action will be taken, if necessary.