In response to the EFA’s Diversity Initiative (DI) discussions in spring 2020, DI chairperson Sangeeta Mehta suggested that the EFA Board take diversity training. In a letter to the Board in support of the training, DI events leader Molly Pisani said, “We cannot hope to repair these deficits in our ways of operating as an organization unless we begin by finding the courage to examine them, and bias training facilitated by a professional is the best way to do so productively.”

EFA co-executive Christina M. Frey said, “While celebrating our 50th anniversary last year, it felt especially important to ask whether we’re empowering and serving freelance editorial professionals in a truly inclusive way.”

At our September meeting, the Board passed a resolution that current and future Board members and staff be required to attend diversity training.

EFA Education chairperson Molly McCowan volunteered to research some options for the training. She looked into about 10 possibilities, interviewed several potential trainers, and chose two for the Board’s formal consideration.

One of these was Alden Habacon, one of Canada’s leading diversity and inclusion strategists and facilitators.

“During our initial call,” said Molly, “Alden talked about his experience working with other communications professionals in the U.S. and Canada, and we discussed how he could customize the training to include specific issues we face on a daily basis, such as how to use inclusive language.”

The Board unanimously settled on Alden to lead us through a series of six 90-minute sessions. The goal was to provide us with the shared vocabulary and understanding that are vital to our role as leaders within the EFA.

The training consisted of these modules:

  • A Virtual Conversation about Race and Racism
  • A Technical Understanding of Inclusion for Boards
  • Understanding and Disrupting Unconscious Bias
  • Intro to Intercultural Fluency and Confronting Cultural Bias
  • How to Be an Ally
  • Active Bystander Training

Board members were required to attend at least the first two sessions and strongly encouraged to attend all sessions.

Board member at large Heather Pendley said, “The sections on disrupting unconscious bias, being an active bystander, and allyship training really opened my eyes to the many facets of diversity in our multicultural world.”

“EDI training has helped Board members take a step back and assess our own implicit biases and assumptions in the way we operate, and that’s been very valuable,” said Christina Frey. “Alden stressed the importance of creating an inclusive environment, so we are working in some of these areas independently and together with the Diversity Initiative.”

So what’s the way forward? Board members were excited to receive a summary of the recent EFA Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Survey from Lourdes Venard, now our new membership chairperson, at our March 2021 meeting. The report summarizes the findings of the survey and lays out some action steps we could take to further infuse principles of EDI into all aspects of EFA. This can serve as the beginning of a diversity plan for our organization. We will soon release this report to our members. Please stay tuned!

The Board is grateful for the tireless work of Sangeeta Mehta, the driving force behind our Diversity Initiative. Sangeeta skillfully leads a solid and committed team of subinitiative leaders (currently Nanette Day (Resources), Kellie Hultgren (Communications), Linda Ruggeri (Welcome Program), Molly Pisani (Events), and Lourdes Venard (Diversity Report)).