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Promoting a Diverse Workforce: The Impact on the Quality of Life for People with Disabilities


Annual 'Star Awards' night celebration of staff and their accomplishments ... Music Jam. Laugh Class/Stress Management Program. Art Festival & Auction ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Promoting a Diverse Workforce: The Impact on the Quality of Life for People with Disabilities

Promoting a Diverse WorkforceThe Impact on the
Quality of Life for People with Disabilities
  • May 10, 2007

Jeffrey Keilson Tel
781-910-7216 Advocates Inc. Stephen
Mwangi Tel
508-429-4191 Advocates Inc. Robert Fleming Tel 774-238-9367
Mission Statement
  • Advocates mission is to assist people with
    disabilities or other individual challenges to
    overcome personal obstacles and societal barriers
    to obtaining homes, meaningful work, satisfying
    relationships and to living the fullest possible
    lives, while inspiring our communities to create
    opportunities for contribution and participation
    by all.

Advocates Inc.
  • Private, non-profit, human services agency
  • Forty million dollar operating budget
  • Supporting people with Disabilities for 30 years
  • Provides supports to people with disabilities in
    43 cities and towns in Massachusetts

Advocates Inc.
  • Provide residential, day and employment supports
    and services to 800 individuals with Disabilities
  • Of the 800 Over 300 are individuals with
    Developmental Disabilities
  • Services include employment, shared living and
    individual support
  • Provide advocacy, outpatient and emergency
    services to over 6,000 individuals and their

Advocates Areas of Specialty Support
  • Individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing
  • Individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome
  • Individuals with Co-occurring disorders
  • Individuals re-entering the community from the
    criminal justice system

Diversity at Advocates Inc.
  • The changing face of individuals receiving
    supports and services
  • Approximately 20 of individuals receiving
    services are people of color
  • Contrast from a decade ago when individuals
    receiving services comprised less than 10
  • Not yet representative of the community where
    Advocates Inc. provides services which is 34

Diversity at Advocates Inc.
  • The Developmental Disabilities Division is
    comprised of over 350 Direct Support
    Professionals and shared living providers
  • There are 30 Program Managers
  • There are 6 Administrative Directors

Diversity at Advocates Inc.
  • In a state that is 16 minority according to 2000
    U.S. census
  • 68 of Direct Support Professionals are from
    different minority groups
  • 57 of Program Managers are minority
  • 33 of Administrative Directors are minority

Diversity at Advocates Inc.
  • Staff from 6 continents and 43 different
    countries work at Advocates Inc.
  • Examples of represented nations are China, Japan,
    Australia, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Russia,
    Italy, Portugal, Brazil, Argentina, Puerto Rico,
    and Mexico.

Diversity at Advocates Inc.
  • This is also in contrast with minority
    representation ten years ago
  • The representation of minorities in management
    roles was minimal at best
  • In the last ten years there has been a 100
    increase of minorities in program management
  • There were no Administrative Directors identified
    as minority 5 years ago

Diversity Challenges at Advocates Inc.
  • There is a lack of minority representation in the
    Executive and Senior Leadership positions of the
  • There is a portion of staff that question the
    need for diversity initiatives
  • Differing cultural views of individuals with
    developmental disabilities

Diversity Challenges (continued)
  • Differing cultural views of gender roles
  • Communication barriers
  • Conflicts between supervisors and staff
  • Cultural conflicts between DSPs
  • Conflicts between individuals and DSP
  • Conflicts between families and staff
  • White families and non-white staff
  • Non-white families and staff from other cultures

Addressing Diversity Challenges
  • Acknowledge and embrace the emerging importance
    of diversity in the workplace
  • Establish a very focused, goal oriented
    pro-active diversity initiative
  • Continue to strive to develop a culturally
    effective workforce and supportive environment
  • Senior Leadership support for Diversity Council
    initiatives has been positive

Diversity Initiative at Advocates Inc.
  • In 2005, a diversity survey was developed and
    implemented to direct support professionals,
    supervisors, managers, and administrators
  • In 2005, additional data was collected through
    focus groups and other methods to help identify
    other real or perceived diversity issues not
    included in the survey
  • In 2005, Advocates Inc. sponsored a diversity
    conference The Art of Retaining a Cross-Cultural

Diversity Initiatives (continued)
  • In 2006, diversity was incorporated in the
    agencys strategic plan
  • In 2006, a volunteer Diversity Advisory Council
    evolved with representatives from all divisions
    and all staff
  • In 2006, the Diversity Advisory Council prepared
    a mission statement to focus the efforts and
    direction of the group

Diversity Initiatives (continued)
  • In 2006 and 2007, staff participated in train the
    trainer workshops on addressing diversity within
    the workplace
  • In 2007, a diversity mentoring initiative was
  • In 2007, a diversity awareness and appreciation
    training curriculum was developed

Diversity Survey
  • An independent source facilitated the survey to
    ensure confidentiality
  • The survey was presented to approximately 700
    direct care staff, supervisors, managers, and
  • Data collection continues to present a challenge
    as we attempt to form a comprehensive picture of
    diversity at Advocates Inc.

Survey Initiative at Advocates Inc.
  • The survey results addressed diversity issues
    across the agency and within each division and
    each segment of staff
  • Approximately 40 of the staff returned the
    completed surveys
  • Approximately 15 of minority staff returned the
    completed survey
  • Feedback from respondents was overwhelmingly
  • 83 of staff believe that leadership promotes and
    encourages a diverse environment

Q13 I feel the leadership at Advocates promotes
and encourages a diverse environment.
Prepared by T.A. Wilson Associates for
Advocates Inc.
Q15 Advocates demonstrates real commitment to
hiring, promoting, and retaining a diverse staff.
Prepared by T.A. Wilson Associates for
Advocates Inc.
Q13 I feel the leadership at Advocates promotes
and encourages a diverse environment.
Prepared by T.A. Wilson Associates for
Advocates Inc.
Q15 Advocates demonstrates real commitment to
hiring, promoting, and retaining a diverse staff.
Prepared by T.A. Wilson Associates for
Advocates Inc.
Diversity Advisory Council Mission
  • The mission of the Advocates Diversity Advisory
    Council is to actively promote greater diversity
    in the Advocates Inc. workforce and to help
    promote an environment in which growth or
    advancement is not hindered because of race,
    disability, sexual orientation, culture,
    veterans status, ethnicity, gender, or religious
    beliefs. The Advisory Council aspires to create
    and encourage opportunities for all who work here
    in fostering personal and professional growth and
    development. The Advocates Diversity Advisory
    Council acknowledges the challenges involved in
    bringing diversity to the workplace. The
    Advisory Council will advise Advocates and
    provide ideas and leadership towards the creation
    of an environment that recognizes and welcomes
    differences at all levels of the organization.

Diversity Advisory Council
  • The council members meet on a monthly basis
  • The primary focus and direction of the council is
    to promote a diverse workforce and an inclusive
    work environment
  • Council members discuss strategies to increase
    the recruitment, retention, and training of
    diverse staff

Diversity Advisory Council (continued)
  • Experienced difficulties with consistent
  • Conflicting views on purpose
  • Need for outside facilitator

Diversity Council Priorities
  • Modify and conduct survey on a regular basis
  • Mandatory diversity training of staff
  • Mentoring diverse staff
  • To increase the representation of people of color
    in leadership roles and positions

Diversity Council Priorities (continued)
  • Council members participate in Train-the-Trainer
    workshops to develop in-house expertise
  • Sponsoring workshops for all staff
  • -- racism in the workplace

Training Initiative
  • The goal of the training initiative is to support
    each and every staff member in achieving their
    full potential and enhance their contribution to
    our diverse agency and clients
  • The focus of the training initiative is the
    development of cultural competencies within our
    evolving organization
  • Committed to offering trainings to our Shared
    Living and community providers

Training Initiative (continued)
  • The training curriculum include topics such as
  • Understanding cultures influence
  • Effects of stereotyping
  • Communicating with diverse populations
  • Effective leadership for managers
  • Experienced difficulties in achieving consensus
    in meeting the needs of a very diverse staff
  • Challenges of creating deaf friendly trainings

Mentoring Initiative
  • The goal is to support a leadership initiative to
    improve the capacity to promote, maintain, and
    increase diversity in leadership positions
  • Mentors will provide mentorship in both general
    skills sets and leadership ability development

Mentoring Initiative (continued)
  • The development areas include navigating the
    larger systems in which we work, knowing how to
    identify and access your resources, confident
    public speaking, etc.
  • The mentoring program is for 12 months
  • New group of mentees identified every 6 months
  • Each mentee will have two mentors
  • Meet on an individual basis as well as a group
  • Each mentee will in turn become a mentor

Train the Trainers
  • Diversity training sponsored by DMR
  • Diversity 101 presented by Neighborhood Health
  • Managing Diversity presented by New England Human
    Resources Association
  • Consultation from outside trainers

Addressing Recruitment Issues
  • A proactive approach to staff recruitment
  • Creation of new hire orientation video
  • New hire orientations include deaf staff
  • Foster strong working relationships with colleges
    and universities
  • Gallaudette University for Deaf Individuals
  • Community Colleges
  • Word of mouth from current Advocates staff

Addressing Recruitment Issues
  • Emphasize flexibility and a positive quality of
    life philosophy
  • Growing reputation as a company friendly to
    diverse staff
  • Continually expand the pool of potential
  • Use the positive name of Advocates Inc. in the

Addressing Recruitment Issues
  • Becoming better known in deaf and emerging
    diverse communities as a great place to work
  • Benefit from growing immigrant population
  • Effective collaboration between HR and program
  • Effective referral bonus program

Addressing Retention Issues
  • Create realistic job descriptions and staff
    development opportunities
  • Create an inclusive environment, make staff feel
    valued by people with disabilities, families,
    leadership, and the community and show sincere
  • Agency sponsored ASL classes for hearing staff
  • Annual Star Awards night celebration of staff
    and their accomplishments

Addressing Retention Issues
  • Provide career coaching and highly encourage
    internal promotion opportunities
  • Provide new challenges and advanced training
  • Training opportunities lead to in-house expertise
  • Generous tuition reimbursement and remission
  • Initiatives to empower DSP

Addressing Retention Issues
  • Development of the Supervisory Leadership Series
  • Role as a leader
  • Time management
  • Team building
  • Conflict Management
  • Performance Coaching
  • Our training and mentoring initiatives can lead
    to greater job satisfaction, a sense of
    achievement, development of transferable skills,
    and recognizing and fostering potential

Supporting a Sense of Community
  • Breaking down the barriers between staff and
    individuals with disabilities and amongst staff
    regardless of their role within Advocates
  • Social networking events throughout the region
  • Health Wellness Program
  • Music Jam
  • Laugh Class/Stress Management Program
  • Art Festival Auction
  • Encouraging staff participation in legislative
    and other advocacy on their behalf (adequate pay)
    and on how to better support people with

Self Direction Diversity
  • Training facilitators for Person-centered
  • Facilitating and promoting self-advocacy
  • Power and control shifting more to individuals,
    families and staff who work most closely with the
  • Limited access to diverse resources
  • Limited providers with appropriate language and
    cultural skills
  • Trust and rapport issues

Results and Outcomes Higher Quality of Life
  • Lower turnover (30 to 14 over 3 year period)
  • Fewer vacancies (21 to 7 over 4 year period)
  • Less overtime
  • More consistent staffing
  • Staff more connected with person receiving
  • Friendships
  • --between staff and individual
  • --between staff and families

Advocates Edge
  • Recognize the agency is only as good as its staff
  • Recognize staff want opportunities to learn,
    advance, and experience a feeling of
  • Treat staff with respect and permit them to grow
    professionally, and they will perform better and
    stay longer

Ongoing Issues
  • Fiscal issues prevent implementation of
    competitive salaries
  • Expansion of training resources to people with
    disabilities, families and community resources
  • Continued emphasis to bridge cultural gaps and
    differences and create a culturally effective
  • Growing hostile environment in some communities
    towards immigrants and people with disabilities
  • Shifting power paradigm
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