March 14, 2017

Looking Forward: JLPA•MP Board of Directors Passes Inclusion Statement

Looking Forward: JLPA•MP Board of Directors Passes Inclusion Statement
This fall, the JLPA•MP Board of Directors approved the League’s first formal Inclusion Statement. We went behind the scenes to learn about the process that brought this statement to life and what it means for our League. What follows are excerpts from a conversation between Communications Committee Member Chiara Sani and Board Member-At-Large Michelle Rodriguez Flores, who chairs the ad-hoc Diversity and Inclusion Committee and is a Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager at VMware.
What was the genesis of the Inclusion Statement?
The Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI) has been empowering Leagues to become more inclusive and has provided great resources and guidance to our League. The inclusion message sent by AJLI really resonated with JLPA•MP President Sara Hollister, who reached out to me because of my professional work in this field. Sara is a leader with a vision and she is very passionate about inclusion. Within our League there has been a lot interest in and many conversations on the subject.
What were the next steps?
Last year the JLPA•MP Board decided to create an ad-hoc committee to work on inclusion strategy. Because of my passion for the subject and my years of professional experience, the Board invited me to work on the inclusion strategy for the JLPA•MP.
Can you tell us more about why this process is important now?
The JLPA•MP is a very welcoming group, but we are still faced with the stereotype of what a woman in the League does or looks like. Rolling out a JLPA•MP inclusion strategy is an important step toward reflecting the reality of our League, retaining great members, as well as, recruiting new members who can feel they are part of an organization that values their roots, background and experiences.

So the Inclusion Statement is about diversity? Can you elaborate?
In other words, diversity is making sure we have the best mix of members that reflects our broader community and inclusion is making sure that the diversity mix works. We have to make sure that our environment is as inclusive as possible so that any woman who wants to contribute to our League can bring her full self, talents and leadership to make our League the best it can be.
Now that the Board has passed the Inclusion Statement, what are the next steps?
The strategy and the new Inclusion Statement were presented at the January General Membership Meeting. The Diversity and Inclusion Committee will now leverage other groups within the League, to facilitate a strategic roll out. The goal will be making inclusion an integral part of what the League promotes, values and reflects, in all its aspects. The Board of Directors and the ad-hoc Diversity and Inclusion Committee have a clear vision of how inclusion will improve how our League reflects and mirrors the demographics of our community.