As we pause to reflect on the past year, I am inspired by the commitment Vitalant shows for diversity, equity, and inclusion within our organization. This year marked the first in our three-year strategic plan to grow our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) program, and I am excited to share the wonderful developments made as we embarked on this journey.
In January, we made some of our first moves to implement a strong foundation for our DEI program at Vitalant. We started by assembling the DEI Executive Council. This group of 14 Vitalant employees from across the country are focused on workforce diversity, workplace inclusion, leadership commitment to DEI, supplier diversity and ensuring a diverse donor base.
While building our DEI framework, the Executive Council identified the vision and goals for Vitalant’s DEI program. They are:
- Create an inclusive workplace where we celebrate our differences, and everyone feels respected and valued.
- Cultivate a culture where every employee feels that they belong; one where we invite them to bring their full selves to work — to unleash their potential while helping us achieve our business goals.
- An innovative and productive organization, delivering the best products and services to our customers, donors, and communities. As we embrace our differences, diversity will help us to achieve these goals.
On Jan. 18, 2021 one of the first initiatives to support these goals was MLK Day of Understanding, a virtual presentation where more than 400 Vitalant employees paid tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, while learning about the power of community and service to others.
Throughout the year recognition of Cultural Months, including Women’s History Month, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Pride Month and Hispanic Heritage Month, served to share information about cultural traditions, provide learning and increase awareness of underrepresented groups. The DEI team worked to promote meaningful conversation, foster devotion to truthful history and determine if these actions were significant enough to create meaningful change at Vitalant.
Some other activities to support the vision and goals of the DEI program at Vitalant include:
- The Articles for Awareness Campaign encourages teams to read and discuss articles about relevant DEI topics to help understand and promote DEI behaviors in the workplace.
- DEI Lunch and Learns provide opportunities for employees to increase their awareness and understanding around a variety of DEI subjects through presentations over their lunchtime.
- Diversity Moments are short, educational presentations on a variety of DEI topics which take place during regularly scheduled team meetings across Vitalant.
We also implemented diversity, equity and inclusion information and learning into existing programs for leaders at Vitalant. Elements of DEI were added to Vitalant’s New Leader Education Program for supervisors and managers. DEI was also incorporated into both the Supervisor Academy and Purpose Driven Leader programs.
Looking back on 2021, I am proud of our journey which developed and built a strong foundation for our DEI program. As we enter 2022, I'm excited for the continued growth of Vitalant’s DEI program, including the development of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and Divisional DEI Councils.
The work involved with Vitalant’s DEI program is an ever-evolving journey, but it’s one we are committed to taking, and will continue to build upon.
By May Dobbins, diversity & inclusion director, Vitalant