Starting and maintaining a diversity initiative can be incredibly rewarding—but it also can be a little overwhelming. The following are some quick tips to get you started on your journey to create or enhance your PTA’s diversity initiatives.
Assemble a Diversity Committee
To better understand the children and families that you are serving, assemble a diversity committee that fully represents your community. Who are the leaders and key influencers in your community? What are the key diversity groups that should be represented in your initiative? Remember to think beyond ethnicity. (See Part II of this Toolkit, “Supporting Multicultural Membership Growth,” for ideas.) Having a well-balanced team of diverse members can assist you in identifying the most pressing concerns and help you gain "buy-in" from others in the community to support and contribute to your diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Set Goals, Milestones, and Realistic Expectations
To keep your diversity initiatives on track and to measure the effectiveness of your efforts, the diversity committee needs to establish goals. Goals are crucial to the success of your initiatives, enabling you to:
- Hold leaders and members accountable
- Establish a budget
- Plan for staffing
- Set timelines for completion
Setting milestones for your goals will allow you to pace and streamline your diversity efforts for efficiency and success. To stay on track, you will need to reassess your milestones monthly or quarterly and make adjustments accordingly.
Setting realistic expectations among the diversity committee members and the groups that you represent is important. New committees often start very passionately with big goals and many objectives in mind. However, if they do not have the required resources or approval to achieve those goals and objectives, it can become disappointing to both leaders and members. Consistently failing to meet expectations also can create a negative perception of the initiative among the groups being served.
To avoid this pitfall, establish realistic goals that can be accomplished with the resources that you have and within the timeframe allocated. Communicate regularly with your membership across various channels to minimize misconceptions and keep everyone informed.
Try New Ideas
Having a diversity committee allows your PTA to explore and learn through new experiences. Some of the best ideas come from hearing many different perspectives during the brainstorming and planning phases of an initiative. As you plan your events and activities for the year, make sure that you get input from as many viewpoints as possible. Solicit ideas from team members who may be more quiet or reserved; their contributions are just as valuable. Don't be afraid to try something new or step outside of the box. Some ideas may work well, and some may not. Either way, your committee will learn and grow from the experience.
Communicate With Other Diversity Groups
When implementing diversity initiatives, you do not need to operate in a vacuum. PTA affiliates across the United States have organized diversity committees that have executed very successful initiatives. In addition, you can reach out to diversity groups within your community, in your state or a neighboring state, or across the United States. Connecting with other diversity groups or leaders can provide insight and best practices to enrich your initiatives.
Celebrate Your Successes
As you pursue your diversity and inclusion goals, be sure to applaud your own hard work and success. You and the groups that you serve all have daily demands and responsibilities. Therefore, it is important to pause and take time to celebrate milestones and accomplishments and recognize the progress that you have made.
Celebrations and recognition can take many forms: an informal, inexpensive "thank you" email, letter or greeting card; a public acknowledgement to the entire committee; an informal potluck meal; or thoughtful keepsakes. The key is to take time to acknowledge and celebrate accomplishments, to keep committee members motivated and encouraged.