Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Playbook: Diversity in Action

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Playbook: Diversity in Action

Article excerpt

Follow these steps to launch a diversity initiative in your organization.

Park and recreation professionals, citizen advocates, . educators and students are increasingly called upon to step up diversity initiatives to address a multitude of targeted outcomes in their respective organizations. With careful and deliberate planning, diversity efforts can have a dramatic impact on the field and the communty.

Before launching any diversity initiative, it is imperative to have a clear understanding and agreement on what diversity is-and is not.

While there are many different definitions of diversity, most refer to the similarities, uniqueness and differences among individuals and groups of people. When asked to characterize diversity, most agencies typically focus on race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, age, abilities, religion, sexual orientation and veteran status.

Diversity is, however, much more. It is also about prior experiences, socioeconomic backgrounds, communication styles, physical characteristics, learning styles and all the other unique characteristics that make individuals distinct. To enhance the likelihood of success and meet expectations of key stakeholders when planning a diversity initiative, first define diversity and promote a broad definition of the word.

Perhaps one of the greatest inhibitors to successful diversity initiatives is an organization's desire to do too much all at once. Narrow your focus and make sure energies and resources are funneled toward priorities that will have the greatest impact in the community. As a guide, listed below are four common areas of focus for launching a diversity initiative, regardless of your organization type.

1. Data Collection-Some organizations determine that the first step in launching a diversity program is to gain a better understanding of the demographics and needs of their target populations. Population demographics change at a rapid pace, making it difficult to obtain current and accurate information for decision making. Organizations routinely launch data campaigns to collect current, trending and projected demographics to identify and developing targeted diversity initiatives geared to their needs.

2. Programming-Many organizations focus their diversity energies on developing, promoting, implementing and evaluating programs and services to address the ever-changing needs of the community. …

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