In our last blog, we introduced  non-profit climbing advocacy group Access Fund’s vision and Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) journey. In their February 2022 JEDI journey report, Access Fund shares that its vision is to build a community and workplace with a “staff from a multitude of backgrounds” that feel “ respected, valued, heard, and able to fully reach their personal and professional potential. 

Access Fund began their JEDI journey by conducting their own internal assessments, which included a quantitative aspect like a survey of workplace experiences, and a qualitative portion that collected employee feedback through interviews and organic conversations. After analyzing the results, the organization identified the priorities they would work on moving forward: gender equity, diversification, and creating a common understanding and shared language for JEDI.

To help them reach their vision, we partnered with Access Fund to offer inclusive skill set development through a multi-month JEDI training for all Access Fund staff. “People felt incredibly comfortable being vulnerable [during the trainings],” Access Fund staff member Taimur Ahmed says. “That was a really powerful environment…of honest conversations.” 

The feedback from Access Fund’s employees was extremely positive – 85% of staff said the course exceeded their expectations, 77% said it increased the likelihood they would recommend Access Fund to women, and 89% responded that they felt the organization had a strong commitment to JEDI.

One operational benefit Access Fund saw from Orange Grove’s training was a shift in how all-staff meetings were organized. “I think Orange Grove actually helped a ton with [improving staff meetings] because of the model of small group conversations,” he says. Ahmed explains that the team started using staff meetings as time to bond and communicate rather than technical discussions, which increased coordination and communication between different departments. 

To make progress toward their inclusion goals, Access Fund prioritized restructuring its organization through hiring and creating more internal opportunities so that employees could have more career mobility. “We completely changed leadership,” Ahmed says. As a result, the company went from having only around 5-10% of VP level and up roles filled by women, to 40%.

Thanks to Access Fund’s dedication to building skillsets and changing processes, the organization is now reaping the bottom-line benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace.

*Access Fund uses the acronym JEDI, for justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. Please reference our previous blog post on the topic of acronyms to learn more.

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