In 2018, the IFT Board of Directors confirmed Include as one of the organization’s strategic promises. This decision was informed by an initial assessment, in which IFT learned about their strengths and growth opportunities in terms of DEI. During focus groups, members shared their experience in a culture that many of them described as insiders/outsiders. As we started to better understand the policies and processes that created barriers of belonging for our members, IFT also recognized the relevance of adding training on unconscious bias for members, volunteers, and staff.
Throughout the last two years, IFT has offered Unconscious Bias Workshops to staff; the Board of Directors; some IFT sections, including the largest one which is in Chicago; and the leadership of the IFT Student Association. Additionally, IFT19, our annual event and food expo, included a presentation on cultural competence and a panel on “Bringing Your Authentic Self at Work.” The aim was to raise awareness about the relevance of DEI among our members and start making the Include promise tangible for our community.
Training and education is an ongoing commitment at IFT. We are aware that research has shown unconscious bias training is effective to raise awareness and develop knowledge about biases. To transform this knowledge into attitude and behavioral change, we are developing a training for our staff that includes building self-awareness, developing interpersonal skills, and incorporating learnings into work responsibilities. Additionally, we understand that training itself does not transform an organization. Leadership actions toward change and creating practices to approach processes and decision-making using DEI lenses will also be added to the trainings. For our volunteer leaders, IFT continues raising awareness about DEI and will make its DEI education offering more often and adaptable to the needs of our community.