Over the past eight months, COMPASS has remained steadfast in its commitment to strengthen and maintain a culture that deeply values, respects, and promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion. This commitment has taken many forms, more than just words on a page.

In June 2020, a staff-led committee was formed as the start of COMPASS’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Initiative. The committee met with Executive Director Laura Lajewski for several months to determine the best path forward for the organization to address the systemic racism that impacts those COMPASS serves, its staff, and society. As a result, the staff committee recommended that COMPASS bring in an external consultant to continue the DEI work moving forward.  

The staff recommendation was met with overwhelming support from across COMPASS. As COMPASS pursued external support, more than 50 consulting organizations were vetted, and two were chosen to submit proposals and give presentations to the staff committee and the COMPASS senior leadership team. In December 2020, COMPASS entered into a long-term relationship with the YWCA of Boston (“YW Boston”) to guide the organization on its journey to create meaningful and measurable change. 

The relationship with YW Boston started off with a training for all of COMPASS’ staff members that focused on understanding social identities. All staff participated in a two-hour interactive training in mid-January 2021 to learn how social identities are formed, how oppressive cycles are reinforced in daily life, and how shared language helps facilitate productive discussions. 

Now, COMPASS is fully immersed in the next phase of their relationship with YW Boston which has twenty-five staff members participating in YW Boston’s “InclusionBoston” program. This group is composed of COMPASS’ senior leadership team and sixteen staff equally represented from the COMPASS School and the Community Services program. The sixteen staff from each program were nominated from the larger staff-led committee by peers. According to YW Boston’s website, “InclusionBoston engages organizations in long-term partnerships to create unique solutions to a variety of diversity, equity, and inclusion challenges.” The InclusionBoston model includes organizational assessment and process design, five dialogue-based sessions that empower individuals and groups to take positive action, and a customized twelve-month action plan for organizations to follow.

The dialogues, which started at the end of January 2021, are weekly two-hour sessions led by YW Boston expert facilitators focused on active listening, relationship building, development of shared language and frameworks, and connecting observation to action. Each session is framed by single question:

  • First Session: Who Am I?
  • Second Session: Who Are We?
  • Third Session: How Did We Get Here?
  • Fourth Session: What Do I Do?
  • Fifth Session: What Do We Do?

Once staff move through the remaining dialogue sessions, COMPASS will work with YW Boston to create and implement an action plan that takes into consideration organizational feedback, capacity, existing internal efforts, and insights from the dialogue sessions. YW Boston will support COMPASS over the course of twelve months as COMPASS implements its action plan. Ongoing updates will be made available as COMPASS moves through its action plan and beyond. 

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