2021 was a year of immense change for many in this country, including Voqal. While we began our path towards an organizational culture that reflects our vision a few years ago, 2021 saw us take several steps towards achieving alignment between our mission and the way we operate. While made some real progress over the past year, we also recognize that we still have a ways to go on this journey. In our final look at the 2021 Voqal Annual report, we highlight some of the actions we have taken to better embody our mission of a truly socially equitable world.
As Voqal is redefining how we approach the goal of creating a truly socially equitable world, we recognize that the work starts at home. It’s why we are embarking on a journey to better align our company culture and practices with our mission. Our boards and staff have committed to becoming an anti-racist, multicultural organization. And while we know this is a long journey, we have taken several steps to move Voqal in the right direction.
To become the anti-racist, multicultural organization we strive to be, we realize it is important that those working towards Voqal’s mission understand the culture of white supremacy that underlies so many organizations, including ours. As a first step, we looked to our Voqal DEI committee to provide guidance in this area. The DEI committee is offering regular educational opportunities and resources to help staff understand what white supremacy is, how it affects different identities in society, and how individuals can help combat it. These informational sessions, while just a first step in the process, provide a common level of understanding that will help us to truly live our mission internally.
While education is important, it isn’t enough on its own. For years Voqal’s workforce has not reflected the diversity Voqal’s mission has strived to support. As a result, we are taking a hard look at Voqal’s hiring practices and identifying what needs to change. A shift to a remote work environment, initially due to the pandemic, has expanded our hiring pool, greatly increasing our ability to hire more diverse employees from all over the United States.
However, we also recognize that our employees aren’t the only ones who help us accomplish our work. With this reality in mind, Voqal created and distributed a diverse vendor survey. This survey is aimed at understanding whether our vendors represent the diversity Voqal strives to create in the world. While we are still analyzing the results, this process will help guide future vendor selection and ensure we are always keeping an eye towards supporting businesses and individuals that align with our North Star.
Of course, attracting more inclusive and diverse employees means nothing if the culture is not in line with the values that attracted people to the organization in the first place. With this idea in mind, Voqal continues to take a serious look at the internal policies that underpin our culture with an eye towards making sure they are inclusive of everyone. For example, starting a few years ago Voqal introduced competency-based job descriptions to avoid some of the discrimination that comes with the older, traditional method of valuing educational background above all else.
Voqal’s DEI committee is also conducting an extensive review of Voqal’s employee handbook to identify and change any policies that are exclusive or perpetuate a culture of white supremacy. While this is an ongoing process, it has already led to many important discussions about — and recommended changes to — our current way of doing things.
Finally, while aligning Voqal’s day-to-day operations with our mission is important, we also recognize that change needs to come from both the bottom and the top. As a result, our board members have also dedicated themselves to advancing an anti-racist, multicultural vision for the organization. They have created a dedicated board committee for this work and continue to work closely with Voqal’s staff to ensure our DEI practices are aligned internally and externally.
Undoing decades of white supremacy and cultural practices that support it is not easy. However, as we face this reckoning with both the nation’s and our own past, we are excited to continue doing the hard work necessary to create an organization that embodies the vision of the truly socially equitable world Voqal strives toward every day.
Check out the full 2021 Voqal annual report at annualreport2021.voqal.org.