JFS Perspectives

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

JFS’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee: Ensuring Everyone Feels Welcome and Included



JFS’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee: Ensuring Everyone Feels Welcome and Included

Jewish Family Service values an inclusive environment for all people, regardless of their faith, age, race, gender, gender identity, ability, education level, political affiliation, income, language, or sexual orientation. This applies to clients, staff, volunteers, supporters, vendors, partners, and others with whom the agency interacts. It’s a tall order that requires thoughtful evaluation and scrutiny.

To ensure that JFS is providing culturally relevant services in a climate of inclusion, the JFS Diversity and Inclusion Committee was established in 2013. The committee is charged with creating a culture of inclusion by promoting the acceptance and appreciation of the differences of all people. The committee is focusing on a program that promotes ongoing education and activities that strive to maximize knowledge of, sensitivity to, and inclusion of all cultures and backgrounds represented among clients, volunteers, and staff at JFS.

What does it all really mean? It means that JFS has a thoughtful plan in place and outwardly demonstrates a spirit of inclusiveness. It’s a sensitivity to all the cultures, customs, and beliefs of those we serve. It means ensuring people feel honored, respected, and valued. Most importantly, they feel welcome.

Some recent accomplishments of the committee include:

  • Commissioning a large welcome banner for the lobby atrium that states, “All are welcome here.”
  • Posting “inclusive space” signs around the building.
  • Including multiple languages on signage and documents.
  • Hosting a lunch ‘n learn session on how to create a welcoming space for LGBTQ people.
  • Hosting a multicultural potluck luncheon featuring foods that represent the cultural heritage of staff members.
  • Promoting the inclusion of more ethnic food choices in the Weinberg Food Pantry so that those served will find the foods they want.
  • Publishing a quarterly staff e-newsletter with information on diversity and inclusiveness.
  • Hosting a training on the fundamentals of Islam so that staff and volunteers can be more sensitive to the culture and beliefs of our Muslim clients and staff.
  • Updating a booklet on Jewish customs and traditions so that non-Jewish staff are sensitized to the needs of Jewish clients.
  • Planning a training on the tenets of Judaism so that non-Jewish staff have a better understanding of the traditions, customs, and beliefs of those we serve.
  • Planning a sensitivity training on how to respectfully interact with people with physical, intellectual, and/or developmental disabilities.

 

The result is a more inclusive Jewish Family Service that is inviting and safe for everyone. It’s making JFS aware of and responsive to the diverse needs of all people by respecting the cultures, belief systems, behaviors, and emotions of different people so that they will have a positive experience.

The work of the committee is ongoing as we strive to promote a culture of open-mindedness, compassion, and inclusiveness throughout the agency.


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