Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Trees Atlanta
We plan to provide quarterly updates on specific actions that we are taking to improve and become a better organization. Our goal is to better represent our community by increasing diversity in our staff, our board, and through partnerships with the Black community as we protect and improve Atlanta’s urban forest by planting, conserving, and educating.
The Georgia Center for Non-Profits and The Home Depot Foundation recently hosted a virtual, educational event entitled “Building Equity Leadership”, featuring The Living Cities Journey. This national organization has been working hard for over six years improving diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout their team and had many learnings to share.
One of our key takeaways is that working on these issues is much like working to be a better person. First, we must recognize that there is work to be done. Then, as we determine areas for improvement and focus on actions to change, we need to understand that the work is a journey, not a one-time event. We must continually evaluate where we are and the progress that we’ve made, aiming for ongoing, consistent improvement.
That lesson resonates with us here at Trees Atlanta as we work diligently to improve how we operate internally and throughout our community.
Our hope is that we are on the journey to eliminate our own biases and improve outcomes for all our constituents. There is much work to be done and heavy lifting to be completed, but we are committed to these efforts and convinced they will enable us to become better people and a better organization.
Updates on Our Progress
DEI Action Plan Update – June 2021
The following actions were completed between January 1, 2021 through June 30, 2021.
The Initiatives created in November 2020 were met with two that are currently ongoing initiatives:
- The HR position was solidified and offered in Q3, and was officially filled as of April 1, 2021. An additional part-time position is not currently assessed to be needed.
- The Community Engagement taskforce has been formed and the framework to which the organization will approach community efforts is currently ongoing.
- Professional development opportunities were compiled in Q3 and published on the employee intranet. These are the opportunities that were identified during the period when the DEI workgroups were active.
- Enhanced Salesforce, ArcGIS, and social media to enhance community engagement efforts now includes dashboards to gather information regarding the current reach of the organization (volunteers, planting database, and interactions with community members/organizations) that will be used to determine engagement gaps. This data will help the taskforce develop the community engagement framework for future action items.
Moving into FY22, the primary focus for DEI will include recruitment and community engagement. The expanded recruitment efforts will continue with all open positions with the organization and with future workforce development initiatives. The Community Engagement Taskforce has been formed with employees representing each program/department of the organization. These efforts and goals are also now reflected in the new five-year operational plan for the organization.
DEI Action Plan Update – March 2021
The following actions were completed between January 1, 2021 through March 30, 2021:
- We created a new role, Director of Human Resources, that will focus on legal compliance, internal policy and procedures, talent management, and organizational growth strategy. Dana Render has been named to fill this role. The need for a part-time generalist will be assessed at a later date.
- We have continued enhancing recruitment techniques to increase access for a wider variety of local candidates by:
- Removing college degree requirements for targeted job opportunities and simplifying daily work task descriptions.
- Printing and hanging signs advertising career opportunities on the Murphy Crossing and Warner Street property fences.
- Starting the design process for new company truck decals for job advertisement.
- Piloting an inaugural Forestry Maintenance Workforce Development cohort in partnership with STRIVE Atlanta and the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc that hosted five students and resulted in two job offers.
- Connecting with community based organizations and businesses to collaborate on recruiting to fill open positions.
- Developing a staff onboarding process that includes senior leadership to encourage a smoother integration of new hires during their first 90 days of employment and beyond.
- All supervisors participated in an Inclusion and Unconscious Bias training to help remove subjectivity in the hiring process (February 24, 2021).
- An all-staff Community Ideation session has been scheduled to assist with better reach and meaningfully engage diverse communities (April 21, 2021).
- We have begun researching, identifying, and documenting professional development opportunities to support the career enrichment and growth of staff.
- We announced other voluntary training and enrichment opportunities surrounding DEI ideologies that are available to all staff including the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge offered through the United Way and Environmental Justice training that will be conducted by the Alliance of Community Trees (ACTrees).
- We created a new Community Engagement Task Force that is open to all staff. This group will be led by the Workforce Development and Engagement Supervisor to be the primary driver of community outreach and engagement.
We will continue to evaluate our efforts and their effectiveness as we strive to be better allies with the communities we serve. During the next few months we will activate the new Community Engagement task force in order to develop staff training, goals, strategies and initiatives for effective collaboration in the focus neighborhoods that are in close proximity to the new Trees Atlanta Headquarters located in Oakland City opening in 2022, as well as strengthening the outlined recruitment and retention initiatives already in process. The focus neighborhoods are located within a 1.5 mile radius from the new Headquarters (West End, West View, Oakland City, Adair Park, Capital View/Capital Manor, Sylvan Hills, Pittsburgh, Bush Mountain).
We are confident that these efforts will continue to bring about the positive and necessary changes that will ultimately serve to improve our impact and effort to increase environmental equity for all Atlantans.
DEI Action Plan Update – January 2021
Over the past six months, Trees Atlanta employee participated in three task forces that focused on:
- Hiring, retention, and workplace culture
- Community engagement
Each task force met multiple times and developed a suite of recommendations which they shared with our leadership team and our Board President. Additionally, they presented their recommendations to our entire staff along with recommendations for short and long-term goals.
We have taken immediate action on several of those recommendations:
- We hired a Workforce Development and Engagement Supervisor to develop a plan detailing how we can become better partners in the communities that we serve.
- We have included our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goals and work plan in our new 5-year Strategic Plan.
- We updated our employee health insurance policy to include full-time hourly employees with 2+ years tenure.
- We made available to all staff our job positions and pay ranges and have published this information on a staff intranet site that every employee can access.
We expect to complete several other initiatives over the next few months:
- Researching and recommending anti-racism training for all hiring managers
- Developing standard job descriptions, interview questions and an evaluation rubric, and an exit interview process
- Developing a list of Black-owned businesses we can support or partner with as we fulfill our mission
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