Building on two years of insights drawn from the KSA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion learning community, Inclusion Drives Innovation focuses on addressing racism as the critical starting point that enables positive change.
In 2020, our commitment to achieving significant, measurable progress in diverse and equitable representation and inclusive practice in order to remain the global epicenter of innovation has only grown stronger. In fact, if there is anything that this pandemic has underscored for us, it’s the toll that inequities and systemic racism take on health and wellbeing. Now, in the context of protests, increased awareness and deep engagement on this issue across the country, it is time for the Kendall community to take our DEI work to the next level–and the KSA has developed a program to help us do just that: Inclusion Drives Innovation.
Inclusion Drives Innovation is not a flash response to our current crisis but is instead the product of a more than two year journey. The KSA began this work by using our 2018 Annual Meeting as a catalyst for opening a dialogue about race. We brought the Boston Globe Spotlight team to discuss their findings on racism in Greater Boston and hosted more than a dozen community conversations in reaction to those findings.
To capitalize on that energy, we convened a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion learning community of 17 KSA members, led by Ceasar McDowell and Civic Designers, to deepen our understanding of systemic racism and ways that our systems and organizations perpetuate inequities. Understanding that with focus comes impact, this learning community prioritized racism as the most intractable issue, identifying that addressing racial injustice is the critical starting point that enables broader change. Together, they authored this vision statement for our approach to addressing systemic racism in Kendall:
“Kendall Square will apply its innovation DNA to amplify a community that creates equity and addresses racial injustice by assessing, developing, and implementing policies, practices, and workplace cultures within the Kendall Square Community.”Ceasar McDowell, Civid Designers
It is on that foundation that the KSA has developed Inclusion Drives Innovation, a twelve-week professional development program designed by and for Kendall Square Association members focused on building anti-racist organizations, understanding cultural and social identity, unpacking bias, microagressions, and allyship, anti-racist organizations, and leading across differences. Inclusion Drives Innovation will empower participants to expedite the rate of change in their organizations by fostering collaboration and peer accountability, highlighting bright spots and creating a forum to share best practices.
This model uses expert-led class time, small group discussion and peer facilitated group meetings to accelerate rapid learning and practical application of concepts. This program stands apart from others for two key reasons:
- It is user-designed. We created it in close partnership with 12 Kendall Square companies whose employees are participating
- It acknowledges that, while no organization has all the answers, many of them have evidence of success that they can share and others can learn from. It’s this cross-pollination of ideas, network building, and peer support and accountability that makes this program special.
We’re focused on bringing the necessary tools to companies that are dedicated to expanding their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This is a watershed moment for our country, and Kendall Square is committed to being a positive force for change. Inclusion Drives Innovation will kick-off on October 7 and convenes bi-weekly through December. Be sure to purchase your seats before the enrollment deadline on September 23, 2020.