3-11-21

Dear Guide Dog Foundation and America’s VetDogs colleagues,

For the past few months we have been working diligently toward our organizational goal to implement an action plan to fortify our commitment to a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion throughout all constituencies of the organizations.  

Our first step was to form a Board Task Force on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. This group is dedicated to providing ideas and resources that encourage a thorough approach to all factors that shape our perspectives and lived experiences.  

Further, I am pleased to announce that we will be expanding our efforts to include all constituencies.  

We have also engaged the assistance of a best-in-class facilitation team from Littler Mendelson, a leading firm in labor and employment relations, to help us plan and achieve our efforts.  We will be working with Cindy-Ann Thomas, a principal and co-chair of the firm’s EEO &Diversity Practice Group, and Kimberly N. Dobson, a highly experienced labor and employment attorney. Both Cindy-Ann and Kimberly bring a wealth of experience in addressing intercultural dynamics and challenges in the workplace; developing and delivering diversity , equity and inclusion training; and, optimizing employee engagement.

Additionally, I am pleased to announce that Guide Dog Foundation and America’s VetDogs Philanthropy Officer, Karman Pun, has volunteered to act as staff liaison for this initiative and will be reaching out soon with next steps including working to identify volunteers to participate in a facilitated discussion, more commonly known as a “Think Tank”.

Our facilitators, along with a collective group of cross-organizational constituents, will play a vital role in our commitment to our employing and serving people of diverse backgrounds and cultures, and to advance equity and inclusion. From recruitment, to cultivating an inclusive culture, to actively listening to our constituents with compassion, we all have a role to play.

As a community, we will continue to learn, and we will continue to have the necessary conversations in order to better understand social disparities and inequality.

Finally, this dedicated landing page will be maintained to share our efforts and updates as more discussions and ideas are realized. As this effort gains additional momentum, we will be sharing updates with you as they happen. 

Sincerely,
John Miller
President & CEO
Guide Dog Foundation and America's VetDogs
 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force Mission Charter

The Guide Dog Foundation and America’s Vet Dogs celebrate the power and importance of cultural diversity. We believe that it is essential to harness the competencies of those from disparate backgrounds to fulfill our mission of providing assistance dogs to anyone who might benefit from our services. To that end, we pledge to promote a climate of openness and inclusion at every level of our organizations, one which places the highest premium on diversity of thought, culture, values and experience.

Both organizations demonstrate their commitment to equity by fostering an atmosphere of respect and collaboration, providing all stakeholders with opportunities to make meaningful contributions to the realization of our strategic goals. Every member of the GDF/AVD team—staff, volunteer, consumer, donor or partner—is equally valued, as is reflected in our operational policies, procedures and relevant trainings.

Further, we are committed to taking proactive steps to attract and retain culturally diverse stakeholders. We pledge to monitor the results of these efforts no less than annually, measuring success by the sustained growth and retention of those who personify our commitment to the values of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Definitions


Diversity:
Refers to the welcoming of stakeholders whose disparate backgrounds, ideas, perspectives, competencies and values strengthen our organizations.

Equity: The organizational structure, inclusive of policies, procedures and practices, which guarantee that all individuals are granted equal access and opportunity.

Inclusion: Refers to an environment in which all individuals, regardless of cultural or demographic background, are invited to play an active role in the fulfillment of our mission.