In June, Desert Botanical Garden along with several other institutions and companies participated in Black Out Tuesday. The Garden’s participation showed its support and solidarity against the injustices affecting the Black community and other people of color. The majority of the feedback received was positive. Some questioned the Garden’s motive and if we were pandering during a time many people were hurting.
The Garden has internally worked on diversity and inclusion prior to recent events. The country’s current climate allowed for our organization to vocalize our commitment to diversity and inclusion. Botanical gardens promote diversity of plants and plant species but historically, botanical gardens have lacked the same diversity within their workforce and visitor base. As an organization, we recognized we needed to change to represent and reflect the community. Not only does the Garden want to be more diverse, but we want to be inclusive, diverse, equitable and accessible (I.D.E.A.) for all.
In 2018, the Garden was awarded a prestigious Museums Empowered three-year grant for $250,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The Museums Empowered grant supports the use of professional development to generate systemic change within an organization. This award allowed for the development of “Cultivating Excellence,” a robust professional development program that includes leadership trainings that assist in building great leaders and more inclusive and effective teams. In addition, the program includes mandatory diversity and inclusion trainings, which lays the groundwork for understanding diversity and inclusion, create awareness and show ways to demonstrate inclusion in everything we do.
To align with creating systemic change, the Garden is undergoing an organizational assessment. We are reviewing inconsistent policies, potential issues with unconscious biases and preconceived notions that may dissuade diverse applicants from applying and being hired during our recruitment process. A standardized recruitment process is being constructed to broaden the Garden’s outreach to reach underrepresented communities. We have partnered with local community organizations that assist diverse communities gain employment. Hiring new staff provides an opportunity to shape the Garden’s future. As the Garden become increasingly diverse, it is critically important that the staff we hire offer excellence in talent; provide a variety of interests, perspectives and personal backgrounds; reflect the diversity present in our community; and contribute to our dynamic organization.
Lastly, to celebrate diversity in the Garden, a monthly newsletter detailing significant cultural, religious and historical events celebrated within the month is sent to all staff. We have highlighted events such as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Older Americans Month, Chanukah/Hanukkah, Hispanic Heritage Month, Ramadan, Men’s Health Month, Juneteenth and many more. Sixteen staff members from diverse backgrounds volunteered to serve on the Garden’s newly formed I.D.E.A. committee, which also hosted Unity events celebrating diversity of cultures, entertainment and food. Acknowledging diversity educates our employees and allows a sense of belonging for those that celebrate.
As an organization, we are aware implementing inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility (I.D.E.A.) is a difficult task. By working on creating internal changes, we believe we are making strides in the right direction. Change is not easy, however, change begins with an I.D.E.A.