Collington Engages DEIB Experts with Affiliate Grant from Kendal Charitable Funds

Collington takes pride in the community’s diverse campus, where team members and residents from various backgrounds and experiences are warmly welcomed. The community has actively engaged in efforts to be an inclusive and equitable campus, including its recent planning effort for a comprehensive Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) program.

In 2023, Collington took the first critical steps in building an effective DEIB program starting with an assessment with the leadership team. The assessment’s purpose was to understand the team’s current understanding of DEIB,  to establish a level of commitment on the part of the team, and discuss the required resources to develop a robust program. Collington moved forward in this effort by contracting with a DEIB consultancy group, DEI Conversations. This effort was made possible by Kendal Charitable Funds (KCF) latest round of the Affiliate Grant program.

Starting with the Leadership Team

Yolanda Hunter, Director of Human Resources at Collington, shared that the community must start its DEIB efforts with the leadership team, as leadership commitment is key to ensuring that as leaders, we must be the champions of  DEIB initiatives.  This commitment includes supporting the long-term goal of creating a community and workplace inclusive of residents and team members, that not only speaks to our efforts but is demonstrated through our values.  The first step would need to include an assessment of the resources needed to develop a robust program that would facilitate education and training opportunities, metrics and accountability for team members and residents.

“I knew that if we wanted to be serious about DEIB and desired to create an impactful program, the leadership team needed to have a full understanding of DEIB, and how it translates into our day-to-day engagement with team members, residents and business decisions,” shares Yolanda. “We needed to begin with an educational component that would allow us as leaders to learn, understand and have an awareness of the value and impact of having a DEIB program executed at Collington.”

The first step included engaging with DEIB experts who could provide specialized expertise around data collection and offer digital surveying methods. The data collected from the anonymous surveys with leadership would shape Collington’s short and long-term goals for DEIB.

DEIB Consultants and Leaders Shape the Path Forward

The funds from KCF were used to employ the DEIB experts at Collington for several months. To start, the consultants developed meaningful questions for the survey, designed to draw out reflective and honest responses from the leadership team, to benchmark the community’s current efforts and challenges related to DEIB.

The consultants then designed a unique educational workshop based on the survey results. The workshop included critical conversations about DEIB, how it impacts each team member and resident daily, and how developing a strategic approach can allow for a more inclusive campus.

“We knew this workshop would allow us to create a robust program that will include residents,” shares Yolanda. “We feel it’s essential to build a bridge with residents and team members so that everyone can be part of the process as we roll out a DEIB program.”

This workshop and other touchpoints with the consultants allowed the leadership team to increase its DEIB understanding, share various resources, further define its vision and strategy, and adjust the plan moving forward to meet the needs of Collington’s unique and diverse population.

Next Steps at Collington

Collington resides in Prince George County, Maryland, and prides itself on being part of a diverse community within the campus walls and beyond. An important next step will be building community partnerships and creating an environment where neighbors know they are accepted and valued partners.

Additionally, Collington continues to roll out DEIB education and practices to team members and residents. As the program evolves, it will become integrated into every policy, practice, communication point, and interaction in the community.

Yolanda shares, “We see this as a huge initiative with several parts. We want to be smart about bringing those parts together to make sure that once it’s implemented, it’s sustainable. We have a clear path forward and want everyone at Collington to embrace this multifaceted approach; understanding that DEIB is a journey, and ongoing effort is required to ensure and support an inclusive workplace and community.

Funds provided by Kendal Charitable Funds

Kendal believes that a spirit of inclusion and a culture of diversity enrich and strengthen communities, people, and services. Creating welcoming and educated environments requires concentrated efforts and is the shared responsibility of each community and team member.

Kendal Charitable Funds, incorporated in 1989, supports the charitable goals and aspirations of The Kendal Corporation, its network of affiliates and the wider world of aging. The 2022 Affiliate Grant program provided support to Kendal affiliates in areas focused on increasing commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and a sense of belonging, particularly among employees.