When 2020 began, we had no idea what upheaval awaited us. First came COVID-19, followed quickly by the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. The public outcry caused many organizations, including World Vision, to examine their corporate cultures.
World Vision U.S. President Edgar Sandoval Sr. issued a statement on June 5 saying, “The injustices of racism that have recently become so visible are not new. They are wrong. They have been embedded in the culture and systems of our country for hundreds of years and they must end.”
He pledged World Vision’s ongoing support in fighting injustices. “We are committed to listen, to learn, and to be an ally, coming alongside the church to ‘carry each other’s burdens’ as Galatians 6:2 urges.”
Ongoing diversity and inclusion work, as well as brand-new initiatives, reflect World Vision’s commitment to this work.
1. Focus on diversity and inclusion
For the past four years, World Vision has integrated diversity and inclusion into core organizational health activities, including a chapel series honoring heritages, analyses of compensation equity, enhanced diversity recruitment efforts, and expanded race and ethnicity demographic measurements on an annual staff survey.
A council of employees advises and works alongside senior management and Human Resources leadership on diversity and inclusion efforts. They are currently implementing a multi-year strategy focusing on:
- The biblical foundations in God’s plan for diversity
- Addressing barriers to diversity and inclusion
- Fostering a culture of openness and trust
2. Internal training
At the outset of World Vision’s intentional focus on workplace equity, a Christian consultant provided a learning experience for senior leadership about racial diversity.
Three years ago, new hires began receiving training on diversity in the workplace. Recruiting staff also learned more about diverse hiring strategies.
In January 2021, all World Vision staff will take unconscious bias training drawn from materials by Christian thought leaders. This promises to be the first in a series of trainings to address barriers to diversity and inclusion. All staff have ongoing access to learning resources through a dedicated intranet site.
3. Beyond our walls
Currently, World Vision is facilitating a year-long online training, “May We Be One,” for pastors across the country. The program offers a platform where attendees can learn from pastors of color who have been prolific voices in anti-racism efforts. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah, Dr. Efrem Smith, and Rev. Sandra Maria Van Opstal are leading the journey.
Pastors have the opportunity to engage with one another on how to dismantle racism and change the church’s landscape.
World Vision remains dedicated to the ongoing work of creating safe spaces for all staff, encouraging open dialogue, and to building a workforce of leaders and employees that reflects the diversity in our broader culture and the Christian church.