Goodlife’s history is a story of passion, equality, and connectedness. For more than 40 years, we have fought to push through barriers of injustice that diminish the rights of those who have been marginalized, specifically individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD). From our inception, diversity has been represented within our organization by gender, race, age, religious preference, sexual orientation, and by those with differing abilities. We celebrate individuality here.
Yet there’s always more we can do. To create an open dialogue about diversity within GoodLife, we established a Diversity Committee, which includes residents, employees, leadership, partners, and board members. The purpose of this committee is (1) to provide information and opportunities to bring awareness to diversity and inclusion at GoodLife, and (2) to engage members of GoodLife in diversity and inclusion conversations.
“If you look at our staff and the individuals in our homes, diversity is nothing new to us,” shares Nichole Reiske, Director of iLink Support Services and Diversity Committee co-chair for GoodLife. She’s also the Committee Chair for the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee for USA Rugby’s National Senior Club. (Yeah, we think she’s pretty great, too). “GoodLife has always embodied diversity, but we’ve never officially taken a stance as an organization. The committee is our way of not only doing that, but empowering our workforce and our residents as well.”
The first initiative of the committee is to develop a training module for new hires that teaches them GoodLife’s posture on diversity and inclusion. From our technologies to our work programs, equality is the cornerstone of our mission. If a new hire doesn’t align with our “everyone is welcome, everyone is equal” culture, both parties learn early on that it isn’t the right fit.
“Even our technology helps us learn about and teach inclusivity, both inside and outside of our homes,” says Nichole. “iLink tells everything from which pronouns to use to appropriately address staff to the fact that a team member is taking a break to participate in religious practice. This awareness of others can carry over into our everyday lives.”
The committee will also plan monthly activities, celebrations, or awareness events for all of GoodLife staff and residents to celebrate diversity. A complete list of each month’s initiatives can be found here.
The heart of the diversity committee is to educate. Though the belief that everyone is equal is communicated through GoodLife’s leadership and HR practices, that doesn’t mean all residents, employees, and board members have the same understanding of what that means.
“Long-standing mindsets that don’t align with our values do exist, so it’s our desire to educate each individual on the power of diversity and inclusion,” says Nichole. “If we only get one person to open their mind, that’s enough. All we can do is try. And that’s what this committee, and the GoodLife community, is all about–giving everyone a fair chance and an equal opportunity.”
Learn more about GoodLife’s inclusive programs and services here.