In the summer of 2020, America was mourning the loss of George Floyd, a black man who was murdered by Minneapolis police officers. Among the outcry from the public, there was also a sense of reflection. Individuals, companies, and governments were looking themselves in the mirror and asking the important questions. Highfields decided it was time to take action and expand their DEI efforts.
DEI stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Highfields’ Director of Quality and Education, Becky Womboldt, helped champion the DEI movement at Highfields.
“Instead of just doing a training, we chose to work with DEI consultants to provide intensive capacity building for our entire leadership team,” Becky said.
Thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation, Highfields was able to provide a capacity-building DEI experience to the entire staff. From there, an internal DEI Council was created to help implement special projects and embrace a culture of DEI. The Highfields DEI Council has eight members, spanning across all three of Highfields’ main branches: community services, residential, and education.
The DEI Council’s main goal is to create a common language and a common understanding so that the entire organization is working with the same knowledge.
“We took our capacity training and transferred it to the staff,” said Becky. “Our long-term goal is to work with people in communities all over Michigan, people that come from different races, ethnicities, and cultures. We hope to create safe places that are inclusive and diverse, so that individuals we work with can feel respected.”
Along the Highfields DEI journey, there have been milestones that the council can be proud of. The council created a vision, and Highfields is seeing that it comes to fruition. In addition, the council has included Juneteenth as a corporate holiday, as well as a floating holiday for employees to use as they prefer. The council has also included more culturally diverse food options at meetings and roundtables.
The overarching goal of the DEI council is to make Highfields a safe, inclusive, and diverse workplace for our employees. Highfields is proud to have such an active and motivated group of individuals leading our movement of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.