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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Progress Report 11.30.2020

We’ve all heard it said that 2020 has been a “challenging year.” Yet, these challenges have also brought new opportunities to deeply reflect on who we are, where we have been and how we can do better. This summer, we committed to becoming a different kind of Greek-letter organization — one that is equitable, inclusive and diverse in all aspects of our sisterhood. Only then will Kappa be able to live up to its mission of uniting women — including Black, Indigenous and People of Color; LGBQTIA+ members; women with physical, mental and developmental disabilities; and individuals of all faiths, socioeconomic backgrounds and identities — to learn, grow and inspire positive change.

I often say that this work is not a sprint; it is a marathon. Of course, like many of you, I want instant and impactful change. But, I also know that this work must be intentional and continuous if we are really going to enact systemic and sustainable change rather than just performative measures. As we close out 2020, I wanted to share with you some progress on Kappa’s DEI commitment.

Introducing our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee for the 2020–22 Biennium:
My name is Brittany Henderson and I am a member of Epsilon Iota Chapter, Puget Sound. I have a 15-year career in student development, student affairs and higher education. Most recently, I completed my doctoral research focused on how higher education leaders engage in strategic planning on diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives. I am grateful that 2020 has also given me the opportunity to continue to serve Kappa as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee Chair.

Once the open letter from Fraternity Council and the August DEI Progress Report went out, many Kappas volunteered to get involved. After an application and interview process, 16 Kappas were selected to serve on the committee. They span generations, geographies and experiences, all with a vested interest and commitment to creating positive change. I encourage you to reach out to the committee to share your questions, comments, experiences and more. Contact information for committee members is available in the Fraternity Yellow Pages, which can be found by logging in to www.kappa.org/members and navigating to More Resources > General Resources.

The committee is charged with cultivating partnerships, making recommendations, and developing initiatives with a deliberate and strategic aim for Kappa to become a diverse, equitable and inclusive organization for all women. This directly relates to the Fraternity’s five-year strategic plan, particularly goals for the membership experience.

To infuse DEI work throughout the organization, we implemented a new structure for the committee this biennium. Each committee member serves as a liaison to the 12 content teams. So, for example, there is a DEI committee member consulting and advising the standards content area. The goal is to collaborate with a multilayered approach. When working with the content teams, the DEI Committee members ask questions, challenge processes, and evaluate systems and ways of being. They serve as a resource on DEI topics for content teams.
While our committee has been charged to lead these efforts, one group cannot do the work on its own. As the committee began reviewing the recommendations from the DEI Task Force (established in 2016 and the precursor to our current DEI Committee), it became clear that there was a need to build capacity within the entire organization in order to do this crucial work. Collective planning and decision-making are necessary to expand and enhance Kappa’s capacity for diversity, equity and inclusion. At every level, we must construct a welcome, inclusive, and supportive space for all members to be their authentic selves.

Report on the Alumna and Collegiate Listening Sessions:
As you may recall, listening sessions were held this summer with alumnae and collegians as part of an organization-wide DEI audit. We wanted to hear directly from our members and recognize their experiences. The listening sessions were conducted by Cross-Cultural Fraternal Advisors Institute (CCFAI) Collaborative, our DEI partner. The sessions gathered member input, feedback, ideas and voices to make our organization stronger. For the collegiate session, 76 members registered with 48 participating and the alumna session had 340 registrants with 124 participating. The feedback from these listening sessions is already informing the committee’s work.

The feedback from the listening sessions points to six major focus areas for the organization:

  1. Staff and High-Level Volunteer Educational Programming
  2. Owning Kappa’s History
  3. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Membership Assessment
  4. Transparent and Committed Communication Spaces
  5. Focused Efforts Around Membership Growth, New Member Education and Ongoing Education
  6. Establish Enhanced Accountability Efforts 

Each focus area contains multiple specific recommendations for the Fraternity. These recommendations, which are currently being reviewed, will be incorporated in either the DEI Committee’s plan and/or a comprehensive diversity plan for the organization. A few of the recommendations have already been implemented, such as the education and training of Kappa Headquarters staff and international volunteers. (See below for more details.)

Education and Training Updates:
Education, including Kappa-specific resources, and training are instrumental to our DEI initiative and will be an ongoing focus.

Training: In addition to the listening sessions, another priority action item Fraternity Council identified this summer was to provide regular diversity and inclusion training for Fraternity Council, Foundation Board of Trustees, District Directors, Content Directors, special/standing committee chairs, professional staff, volunteers and local leaders. Since the summer, in partnership with CCFAI Collaborative, Kappa conducted at least seven live or recorded trainings on DEI topics for volunteers, staff, collegiate officers and advisers with over 1,400 attendees or viewers across the organization. Topics included:  

  • Understanding of microaggressions and their impact/harm to others.
  • How to have a genuine conversation about DEI.
  • How to engage in difficult conversations.
  • Supporting members who have been harmed.
  • How to approach cancel culture.
  • Ways to be successful in DEI work.
  • Empowering women.
  • Religion, inclusivity and classism.
  • Metaphors, connotations and the history behind some phrases.
  • How to examine Kappa’s history.
  • Dismantling systems (practices, policies and procedures) that serve as barriers to DEI.
  • Identifying and funding solutions to increase DEI.
  • How to build and execute a strategic plan with a DEI lens.

The response and feedback from these trainings have been positive, and I am so excited to see how individuals are already incorporating these practices and principles into their Kappa roles and their personal lives.
Building upon the virtual DEI Institute held in May, Kappa is currently working with the CCFAI Collaborative to create and host Together Tuesdays, a six-part series providing training for all National Panhellenic Conference members’ staff and volunteers who work on DEI initiatives. Topics covered include: 

  • Implicit bias in Recruitment.
  • Moving DEI strategies forward within organizations.
  • Examining the national landscape of DEI.
  • Creating a DEI officer for a diversity position.
  • Creating inclusive spaces for LGBTQIA members.
  • “Wait! That’s racist? But that’s not how I meant it.” 

Kappa offers DEI trainings to all of our members. If you would like to participate, please access our online learning management system by logging in to www.kappa.org/members and navigating to Minerva > Commit. Options include Sex, Gender, and Sexuality; Using Inclusive Language; and DEI-Infused Membership Growth. 

Additionally, we have started a virtual version of our DEI program Are You Ensuring Everyone’s Asked to Dance? Doing Your Part to ensure all of our collegiate chapters receive it by the conclusion of the 2020–21 academic year.

Lastly, I want to take a moment to thank all our members who have paid their membership dues and/or donated to the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation’s educational areas. Your financial contributions have made these trainings and our work possible.
Resources: Kappa resources ensure our leaders at every level of the organization are able to carry out their duties and responsibilities in alignment with our values. We are auditing current resources to ensure DEI best practices. The previously mentioned committee structure has already led to the review and revision of several chapter documents and reports, including the annual chapter member survey and Chapter History Report. Our committee will continue reviewing Kappa-specific resources with a DEI lens in mind. We are looking forward to this collaborative effort with content experts and our chapter and association leaders.
We are inspired by chapters that have proactively infused diversity, equity and inclusion into chapter operations. In October, we announced new supporting materials for chapters that currently have or wish to create a DEI position. In addition to DEI-specific training courses, updated materials include a Leadership Guide for the chapter DEI Chair, resources and a guide for LGBTQIA+ advocacy and support, resources for racial equity and antiracism education and advocacy, an inclusive learning environments checklist, and a mental health and well-being guide.

Chapter DEI Chairs will be attending Kappa Leadership Conference, a virtual training for select chapter officers, in February 2021. The KLC curriculum will include DEI programming, workshops and resources.
To expand upon this work, we are identifying ways to include DEI in all aspects of chapter operations and the Kappa experience, including recommendations on incorporating a DEI position at all leadership levels of the organization and reviewing our governing documents to make DEI positions a permanent part of our leadership structures. 

In a recent email to our collegiate leaders, I shared my belief that the most impactful and transformational changes start at the local level. As we begin a new year and continue our work together, I encourage each Kappa to think about their own efforts in their communities. How will you spark change that will lead to positive impacts?

Until our next conversation, I wish you all the best in the upcoming holiday season!

Loyally,

Brittany Henderson
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee Chair




 
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