Though all members play a role in the League’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, JLT’s Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Task Force began during the 2016-2017 League year and is charged with overseeing the League’s efforts in this area.
The Task Force is a part of the Leadership and Development Council and is currently composed of eight members in the 2019-20 year. “Diversity and Inclusion is such an important initiative for the Tulsa community”, commented Loree O’Sullivan, Leadership and Development Council Vice President. “By being intentional about fostering these principles within our organization, we are helping to drive change by developing female leaders who keep D&I at the forefront of their minds.”
The overall goal of the D&I Task Force is to focus on diversity and inclusion efforts. The 2019-20 committee wanted to first gain a better sense of membership’s feelings on D&I and to better understand how to focus their committee initiatives. The Task Force incorporated The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc.’s ( AJLI) survey on active members’ perceptions of D&I that was distributed in the summer of 2019 to all AJLI members. The Task Force also asked demographic questions to get a better idea of the current makeup of membership. The results of that survey showed many members felt included in JLT and the organization was welcoming to different backgrounds and viewpoints. Demographics showed that JLT has members from all backgrounds and across the Tulsa metropolitan statistical area. Based on the survey results, areas for improvement include making members more aware that the D&I Task Force existed and better defining its role within the Junior League of Tulsa.
“What we see from the survey is that many feel we’re on the right track with D&I in JLT, but as with any organization, there’s always continued efforts we can pursue in this area. It’s a constant commitment and work in progress,” said Victoria Hui Holloman, 2019-20 Chair of the D&I Task Force. “We realized a lot of members were unaware of the League’s commitment statement and what D&I Task Force does within the League.” The Junior League of Tulsa, through the Task Force, plans to use the same survey each year moving forward, to gauge progress and help better define its diversity and inclusion efforts.
After reviewing and discussing the results, the task force members decided to focus their efforts on ways to increase awareness and visibility of the Task Force among all of membership. The Task Force started monthly posts to membership’s internal Facebook page to give committee members a chance to share something of interest around D&I, while also starting a conversation in League around D&I topics. Posts thus far have focused on what we can and cannot see with culture, D&I tips to use in the workplace, and the history of Friendsgiving.
To better integrate the Task Force across the League, Task Force members are part of each JLT Council as a liaison. “This allows us to better understand what is happening across League and how we can partner together,” Holloman said.
This fall, D&I partnered with JLT’s Social & Hospitality Committee to put on a “Friendsigivng” based on family traditions. Members who attended the event each brought dishes that represented her family or cultural background. Attendees dined together while learning more about what each dish meant to each person.
D&I’s efforts are also focused on partnering outside of League, as well. In partnership with JLT’s Training, Education & Achievement (TEA) and other external nonprofits, D&I will host a poverty simulation for members February 22 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at OU Tulsa. This will give members a chance to better understand some of the populations served in the community.
“What I love about JLT is we’re committed to being an organization for women of all ages and backgrounds,” said Holloman. “Membership does not have an age limit and leadership opportunities are available for all members, if desired. Additionally, there are membership options for different seasons and stages of life. If there’s one thing we can do this year, it is to make sure every member knows that there are options and that members have the resources and connections to talk to someone on it and feel included in this organization.”