Choice, Voice and Power

I cannot believe I had my midsummer review this week – time really does fly when you’re having fun. This week I wanted to talk about a meeting that I sat in on that centered around revamping the language and mindset of BBBS.

When you think of BBBS, many people think of the flagship model: a Big or a mentor out in the community with their Little or mentee. However, BBBS has several “specialized programs” that are focused on certain populations of children and families. The meeting was to discuss if the language “specialized programs” is appropriate. Is that segregating the populations that we serve in an unfair way? Is this furthering stereotypes of certain populations indicating that they need “specialized” support given their circumstances? Who knew that two words could have such a big impact on an organization.

What I really want to talk about is how BBBS approached this conversation. Initially, the meeting was with the CEO and the leadership team to establish what issues exist. In this meeting, the CEO Elizabeth Martinez, whom you all had the pleasure of meeting, asked me through my lens what I thought about the conversation. Then, the conversation was expanded to my department, recruitment. At this meeting, the director of programs expressed that this conversation called for three things. First, that everyone has a seat in the table as this is a mindset shift within the organization and it is crucial that every person is a part of this transformation. Second, that “seat at the table” doesn’t always cut it, and she wants every individual to not only have a seat, but also choice, voice and power. Third, that not only everyone has a seat as this conversation continues to expand, but that every type of seat available is filled. That includes diversity of race, religion, sexual orientation, place of residence, position in the organization, lived experiences, the list goes on. This is not the first time I have witnessed BBBS take a step back and be intentional, precise, and inclusive about the way they approach a situation. The phrase “a seat at the table” is common and can sound good on the surface, but they take it a step further to encourage not just a seat, but choice, voice and power.

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