Q: Your three facilities are in the Atlanta metro area, a hotspot for Black Lives Matter protests last summer. How did you respond?
A:We literally had staff coming to us conflicted. They wanted to get out there. They wanted to be part of the protests, but yet we were telling them, “It’s COVID. You need to stay safe.” A lot of our [diversity, equity and inclusion] initiatives started because of that. Now we’ve started our leadership program.
Q: How has your board worked to become more diverse and inclusive?
A:It’s an amazing story about being deliberate in this quest. For seven years, we’ve been trying to increase board diversity. When faced with this issue last summer, we were stuck at a point where we had a full board complement, and we didn’t want to overfill the board. Larry Minnix, former CEO of Leading-Age, volunteered and stepped down [to free up a seat]. It’s a true story of good governance that will filter down.
Q: What’s a good first step for organizations launching their efforts?
A:The reality is we have to encourage diversity in our workplaces. The important thing is to do an organizational assessment. See where your biggest issues are. We may think we have a racist issue. It may be a LGBTQ issue. Or you may have an issue bigger in one department than another.