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  • Writer's pictureFrances Roen

Inclusive Conversations: Daily Work

Updated: May 29

Welcome to Inclusive Conversations! Once a month, we'll talk with our partners about the importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in their organizations. In this blog post, meet Daily Work, an organization that opens doors for job seekers by mitigating barriers that limit access and opportunity to the workforce.


What does DEI mean/look like/feel like to you? Or What does it mean for Daily Work to have a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion?

At Daily Work, we recognize that racism and oppression are built into our society’s language, systems, and practices. As individuals and as an organization, we actively seek to dismantle racism, challenge discriminatory actions, deconstruct power and privilege, and reduce disparities in our community.

What does this mean in practice? For us, it’s a commitment to constantly challenging our own thinking and working to have a more expansive worldview. We actively strive to stop perpetuating systems of harm and oppression through self-awareness, self-reflection and advocacy. We seek to co-create an environment of radical acceptance at Daily Work and beyond.

The majority of people served by Daily Work are Black and Brown, Indigenous, and People of Color, most of whom were not born in the United States. Currently, our staff leadership is White, American women. This requires us to be vigilant about attending to how our life experiences and the culture of White supremacy is impacting all of us.

I remember growing up in the 1980s, and at that time people believed that being inclusive meant being “colorblind.” Now we know how important it is to acknowledge that White supremacy culture has caused irreparable harm and lost opportunities for generations of Black and Brown people, Indigenous people, and People of Color, while simultaneously privileging White people.


Why is it important for Daily Work's work to be done by and in partnership with diverse people from diverse places and life experiences?

We believe that no one is truly self-sufficient; and therefore, partnership and collaboration is fundamental to both our individual and collective success. Simply put (and to quote a famous political figure): We are stronger together.

As part of fully leaning into that belief, we are committed to ensuring that the people most impacted by our employment case management services are integral to our decision-making processes and we engage in practices that cultivate participant ownership, trust, and engagement. This also means that we are committed to learning from and with each other and honoring unique experiences and traditions. Our services are guided and informed by each person’s goals, preferences, and values. We listen deeply and honor the whole person in the context of their lived experience.

Here's a great example of one way that might show up at Daily Work. The idea of taking initiative (aka “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps”) is a prominent American cultural value. In the workplace, if you’re a custodian, and somebody has to tell you to clean up a spill, then you’re a slacker. Workers are expected to do their jobs without much direction.

For most of our job seekers the opposite is true. In many cultures, workers are expected to defer to their supervisor for direction. If a worker did something without being told, they might be perceived as arrogant; it is the boss’s job to tell the worker what to do. To take initiative in the way American culture expects probably would be seen as rudeness or insubordination. Partnering with job seekers and learning about their life experiences and culture is critical to preparing them for the American workplace.

Tell us about one or two specific things that Daily Work has done to promote diversity, equity and/or inclusion?

Daily Work is committed to using evidence-based practices, current research, evaluation and continuous learning to inform services, set goals, provide relevant interventions, and to develop the capacity of our staff, volunteers, interns, and organization. This commitment is instrumental to developing inclusive practices at Daily Work and beyond.

We constantly ask ourselves how can we “engage diversity and difference?” What does it look like? What do we notice about ourselves in that process? We ask people to reflect on what they experience in their interactions with others. We want them to notice what they’re feeling and try to understand what is driving those feelings.

By noticing our thoughts and feelings, exploring them, reflecting on them, we make space to understand if what we’re feeling is something we want to put on someone else or if it is my problem (e.g., I am worried that I might be blamed for something or I feel slighted in some way).


For example, someone might say, ‘hey I’m really broke,’ and you help them find a job, but then they decide not to accept the job. The case manager working with them might feel frustrated and think “I did a lot of work for nothing.” This is when we revisit our values and training to get grounded. For us, one of those values is self-determination. We re-ground ourselves in our commitment to providing people with the time, space, and conditions to make choices that work for them.


What is the biggest myth or misconception about DEI that you'd like to bust?

The biggest myth or misconception these days is that we can start a committee, develop a position, and then slap a DEI sticker on it and say we did it. We’re doing DEI work.


But White supremacy culture is so ubiquitous that individually and collectively, we must work at undoing it every single day; and we don’t get to have a break from it.


The hard truth is that we live in a world where Black and Brown people, Indigenous people, and People of Color are marginalized and unable to access the same opportunities and quality of life as White people. It doesn’t mean that White people are bad people, but we need to understand our history and the consequences of our collective actions, and we need to be accountable for them. That requires a lot of effort, every day, with great intention.


 

Frances Roen is a Georgia girl at heart, and has been graciously adopted by beautiful, snowy Minnesota. She is a forty-something daughter, friend, mom, wife, and entrepreneur, and is always on the look-out for a perfectly fried piece of chicken.


Frances is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) with nearly 20 years of experience fundraising and has raised over $200M for nonprofits. She has held fundraising positions at The Bakken Museum, Augustana Care Corporation, and YouthLink and consulted with dozens of nonprofits clients across the globe. In these roles she has been responsible for all aspects of fundraising including comprehensive campaigns, major and planned gifts, annual funds, events, communications, corporate partnerships and volunteers.

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