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Living United: Making UWCNM A More Equitable Organization - FAQs

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United Way is committed to building inclusive communities where donors, stakeholders, advocates, volunteers and partners come together to make real progress in addressing inequities in education, income and health. United Way of Central New Mexico’s (UWCNM) mission is to bring people and resources together to measurably improve lives and strengthen our communities. And, we know that on every measure of well-being, outcomes are predictable based on race and ethnicity with historical and current policies and practices reinforcing poorer outcomes, particularly for Black, Indigenous, Latinx and International communities. 

In order to achieve our vision of supportive communities, where people live healthy and productive lives, we must take on race, equity and inclusion explicitly. We must understand and address the factors that impede progress based on race or ethnicity and pursue more equitable outcomes. Race is one important dimension of diversity, so it’s part of our ongoing work to intentionally and explicitly identify the strengths of our differences here in New Mexico as well as the areas where our group differences create structural and systemic barriers to the full inclusion of all. 

We take an intersectional approach to differences which means we are attending to a wide range of group differences that impact performance such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, socioeconomic class, education, sexual orientation, physical and mental abilities, etc. We make a direct connection between the internal organizational culture and inclusivity of UWCNM within our workforce and our capacity to meet our mission and serve all communities in our region.

Diversity and inclusion will increase UWCNM’s capacity to serve and meaningfully engage people who have different experiences or backgrounds and enhance our ability to be receptive to different traditions and ideas. The more equitable, diverse and inclusive UWCNM is, the better we will be able to achieve philanthropic economic success as well.

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion FAQs

What is diversity?
Diversity can be defined as “all the similarities and differences amongst people.” It’s a combination of all the characteristics that make us unique individuals such as our ideas, attitudes, beliefs, educational background, perspectives and values while also recognizing our group characteristics such as age/generation, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, disability, military experience, and socio-economic background. An inclusive culture values its diversity and embodies understanding ourselves and each other, moving beyond tolerance to acceptance, and wholly embracing the richness of each individual and their group memberships as well. The power of diversity is unleashed when we respect and value difference.  This allows us to use our rich cultural differences as valuable human resources needed to meet the needs of our diverse communities particular to our region.

What is equity?
Equity is the intentional inclusion of marginalized groups in society. Moving beyond equality, equity considers the intersectional and historical barriers existing that can prove even more challenging to overcome for those who generationally have been left out or oppressed. Equity is achieved when systemic, institutional, and historical barriers based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and other identities are dismantled and no longer predict and impact socioeconomic, education and health outcomes.

I often see the word “inclusion” with the word diversity. What is inclusion?
Inclusion is about the culture of a group or organization, an environment where people feel valued, respected, and supported and that they can bring all of themselves to work including their group differences, backgrounds and perspectives. It is about focusing on the essential needs of every individual and ensuring suitable settings are in place for each person to achieve their full potential. Inclusion should be reflected in an organization’s culture, practices, and relationships that are in place to support a diverse workforce. In an inclusive culture, people have many pathways to success and are provided with culturally responsive and inclusive leadership practices that allow them to bring their best talents to contribute to the mission.

What is the difference between Affirmative Action and Managing Diversity?
Affirmative Action is a legally mandated program, while managing diversity is not. Affirmative Action focused primarily on representation of underrepresented groups sometimes with an emphasis on how diverse we look rather than how inclusively we work together.  Promoting equity and inclusion is based on the premise that the organization needs more diversity and is strengthened by our ability to fully utilize our most important capital, employees. Managing diversity deals with recognizing and leveraging the differences each of us bring to the workplace. It also is about creating an environment that builds on those differences and manages them in a way that positively contributes to the success of the organization.

What do we need to learn to increase our capacity to become a more equitable UWCNM?
Learning sessions and highly interactive training events are essential because each of us looks at the world through filters that are developed based on our own unique experiences. Learning together about those filters and how they impact business decisions, work styles and personal relationships that ultimately affect the success of an organization is a critical component of our DEI efforts. By learning how to work more effectively together within our teams and organizations, we can ensure success in our communities.  Rather than assume one size fits all for different departments, functions and stakeholder groups, our efforts are bottom up, asking each department and function to define the application and action steps needed to integrate an equity perspective into their work for UWCNM.

Why do we need to change our work environment?
It works fine for me. Each of us is different. It's not enough for the workplace to be fine for one person or one dominant group. It is imperative that the work environment functions well for everyone. By managing diversity, a company can make sure that every employee and group feels included and respected and can fully contribute to the success of the organization.  With different histories, backgrounds and values, our workforce is diverse, and we need an environment that acknowledges and appreciates those differences.

As a staff member, why should I be concerned with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?
Because you are diverse! Because, if we work with people from different backgrounds, experiences and working styles, we learn and acquire an alternative outlook that may aid us in making a well-rounded decision in our own lives. Diversity in our workplace enables learning with people from a variety of experiences that encourages collaboration and fosters innovation, thus benefitting all.

How can I contribute to (make a positive impact on) the organization’s mission to be a diverse and inclusive company?
You can make the most impact by committing to personal lifelong journey of ongoing equity and antiracism learning and growth. You can also make a positive impact by building collaborative and mutually beneficial working relationships with people of different backgrounds and refer diverse candidates to support the goal of enhancing our diversity at the workplace. You can support others to increase their awareness and acceptance of cultural differences and establish a common understanding of cultural variances. The intent is to understand and remove barriers due to our differences, and to leverage the benefits our diversity has to offer. Recognizing that we all have biases to address, we bring cultural humility to our work and practice collaborative learning to engage constructively across our differences.

What's really in it for me?
By addressing diversity issues and personal biases, managers will improve their relationships with employees, thereby enhancing their success. For individual employees, participating in diversity initiatives improves their communication and teamwork skills, reduces conflict in the workplace, and improves their ability to work effectively in the global marketplace.  Ultimately, we spend most of our lives in contact with our coworkers.  Working in a place where we feel appreciated, valued and included just makes sense on every level.  We all contribute to the quality of relationships we create at work.  By practicing inclusion and creating greater equity, we contribute to UWCNM becoming one of the best and most successful places to work in our region.

Document created by the UWCNM DEI Committee, May 2020. For more information and resources please see the Equity Toolkit - Living United: A Guide to Becoming a More Equitable Organization created by United Way Worldwide.