An Update on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at InterExchange
By Machada Smith-McGovern
4 minute read
In 2022, InterExchange focused on rebuilding our programs and welcoming participants from many cultures from around the world—including the inaugural Ambassadors Fund for Summer Work Travel cohort—to participate in life-changing experiences across the U.S. We also continued our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) by promoting and fostering dynamic education and discussion series, both internally and externally, centered on increasing understanding and representation. DEI continues to be central in our work as an organization, and this year we started two exciting initiatives for our staff and exchange participants to foster inclusivity.
Key Takeaways from 2022
We’re continuing our journey to create a more inclusive workplace at InterExchange. Joining the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion, we committed ourselves to the “four A’s:” awareness, assessment, action, and accountability.
Awareness & Accountability
In 2020 & 2021, the DEI Committee was focused on elevating our own awareness and education. In 2022, we shifted to developing ways to share resources with our participants to bring awareness to them about the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This new initiative can enrich a participant’s intercultural awareness and garner more profound respect and appreciation for the cultural differences they will encounter during their programs and throughout their lives.
In early 2022, we launched our new Explore Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion resource page for participants, hosts, and international cooperating organizations to learn more about DEI. This hub includes excellent articles, books, podcasts, videos, and more curated by our DEI Committee for our community to learn more about each dimension of diversity and inclusion.
In partnership with our Associate Director of External Affairs, Tanya Burovtseva, the DEI Committee launched our pilot Cultural Engagement Program for Participants, including our new Culture Talk series, an interactive discussion series for InterExchange participants to meet each other and learn about American culture. We hosted a pilot discussion in February for Black History Month as well as two Instagram Live sessions. We plan to continue engaging participants in interactive discussions throughout 2023.
Internally, we’ve continued to educate ourselves about the many facets of DEI. Machada Smith-McGovern (Organizational Development Associate, Chair, DEI Committee) represented InterExchange at this year’s Global Inclusion Conference with Diversity Abroad (DA) in San Francisco Oct 3-7. The DA network provides the DEI Committee with access to the latest in academic thought and best practice in the field.
Images courtesy of Barak Shrama for the Global Inclusion Conference
The DEI Committee continued hosting groundbreaking Courageous Conversations and Open Forums designed to provide staff with the opportunity to come together and openly and honestly discuss challenging topics related to DEI and current events, including:
- The Importance of Representation in Entertainment
- The Rise of Antisemitic Hate Speech
- Cancel Culture
- Ukraine/Russia Crisis
These events are optional and voluntary for staff. Some forums are completely unscripted, while others are facilitated with breakout groups, games, and videos. These events allow our team to have challenging discussions and important dialogue on our paths toward allyship and growth.
Assessment & Action
As part of continuing to grow our team and put our commitment to diversity into practice, we launched an exciting training initiative in partnership with LifeLabs Learning in early 2022 focused on Inclusive Interviewing. Our Leadership Team and hiring managers completed a workshop focused on inclusive hiring and recruitment to understand more about how to reduce bias in the interviewing and hiring processes.
In partnership with our Leadership Team and Human Resources, the DEI Committee is currently redesigning our hiring process and developing a framework centering DEI to attract a dynamic pool of applications to available roles at InterExchange. As part of this effort, we launched our dynamic Careers landing page in partnership with our Marketing Team to feature the diversity of our staff.
The project includes train-the-trainer sessions for our hiring managers, a Reducing Bias in Hiring checklist, and restructuring our internal hiring teams. Our Inclusive Hiring Initiative for all hiring managers at InterExchange will be fully implemented in 2023. Our holistic approach will include creating a Diversity in Hiring agreement for our hiring managers, creating a more inclusive onboarding process, and conducting retention analysis.
Our Focus for 2023
Looking forward to 2023, the DEI Committee is excited to welcome three new staff members to our group to help develop an exciting program of events, resources, and training tools related to DEI to share with our participants, hosts, and International Cooperator organizations.
Some of our specific goals are to:
- Continue to build allyship through Staff Engagement & DEI Education
- Implement our Inclusive Hiring Initiative to promote and foster greater diversity at InterExchange
- Create a Cultural Engagement Program for Participants & Hosts
- Develop a DEI Community Engagement Team to provide staff with volunteer opportunities in the NYC area
Machada Smith-McGovern is the Organizational Development Associate at InterExchange. She attended the University of Kansas & Peking University, and holds a B.A. in Chinese Language & Literature and International Studies. Machada's first experience abroad was living with a host family in Beijing in high school, and has been passionate about cross-cultural education and exchange ever since. She is the chair of InterExchange's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and manages the development of professional development training, education, and events for our staff.
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