What is DEI?

Journey has a long history of engagement with what is now known as DEI

What is DEI?

Journey has a long history of engagement with what is now known as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion or DEI for short. From consultants to the still active Diversity & Inclusion Committee, Journey has been engaged in assuring our services are responsive to our racial, gender, and cultural diversity. Since the 1980s, we have been actively pursuing “cultural competence”as an important strategic initiative.  

We adopted our first “Cultural Diversity Plan” in the early 1990s. We have incorporated cultural diversity standards and developed agency-wide training experiences to support continuous engagement inDEI. Being a recovery-oriented, consumer-focused, and trauma-informed agency are parallel equity-driven strategies that support our efforts towards healing and empowering everyone who walks through our doors.  


Last year, Journey created the senior level position of ChiefDiversity Officer to further integrate and prioritize this critical work.  It is an honor for me to work in this capacity. I recognize this work is both internal and external. We look in the mirror to continually grow and learn. We also look out the window to develop a vision and develop partnership to disrupt inequality in all its forms and build an equity-drive system of care where everyone belongs.


The work of promoting DEI is ongoing, dynamic and, often, complicated. In the last decade, we have seen significant developments in what it means to develop culturally responsive services. This work began with the grounding notion of "cultural and linguistic competence” which SAMSHA defined as "the capacity to function effectively as an individual and an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by consumers and their communities”.


This core concept is expanded by the core values of Diversity,Equity, and Inclusion. Diversity is about “empowering people by respecting and appreciating what makes them different”. Equity is about “narrowing the gaps between the most- and least-privileged”. Inclusion is about “creating an environment of involvement, respect, and connection.” In an always-growing area, these ideas are further expanded and refined by the concepts of belonging and antiracism.  


“Belonging entails having a meaningful voice and the opportunity to participate in the design of social and cultural structures.” — John A. Powell


Antiracism “...includes the expression of ideas that racial groups are equals and do not need developing and supports policies that reduce racial inequity.” — Ibram X. Kendi


Being truly committed to DEI requires a courageous commitment to system change through the lens of those whom society keeps at the margins. The process of designing systems for belonging, resilience, and healing begins with“seeing” race, gender, culture, and power and how they impact our day-to-day.We then collectively and courageously engage in dialogue:  


·     How can we empower people and communities placed outside our circle of care?  

·     How are our actions, policies, and systems impacting those who have been historically oppressed?  

·     How can we nurture a path that places strength, resilience, and belonging at the center?  


What are your reactions and ideas in response to the questions?What comes up for you? I would love to hear from you. Feel free to send me a note with your reflections at, a.hernandez@journeymhc.org


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