Amidst the events of the pandemic and the tragic death of George Floyd, Juliette Fowler Communities president and CEO, Nicole Gann found herself at a crossroads.
“We have faced unprecedented times before, but somehow this felt different,” Gann said.
With support from the board of directors, she took action as president of a faith-based organization to launch Juliette Fowler Communities’ Diversity and Inclusion Committee May 2021.
Gann along with Pamela Coit, Diversity and Inclusion Committee chair, launched the program to provide a welcoming environment that establishes a fair and equal workplace.
In March 2021, Coit was given the opportunity to present her plans to JFC’s C-Suite and Leadership team and recruit members for the D&I Committee. She created the committee structure and guidelines.
A D&I statement was created and adopted by the JFC Officers and D&I Committee June 23, 2021.
“At Juliette Fowler Communities, we welcome your authentic self in a culture of acceptance, affirmation, and grace.
At Fowler, we simply love people. All people. With respect for one another and your diverse voices, we nurture a community where we can be different together.
At Fowler, you belong.”
The committee is composed of members who serve in leadership roles across JFC’s campus. It is also broken down into three subcommittees: Digital Communications, Shoulder to Shoulder and DEI Council.
These subcommittees highlight employees through biweekly community briefings and posting monthly flyers to share and recognize Fowler’s diverse community.
“I am passionate about the diversity around us, and I wanted to learn more about the human experience,” Coit said.
In January, the DEI training began for all employees. The training is aimed to bring awareness to what diversity and inclusion can look like in the workplace and how it can be used to engage and empower Fowler’s employees and residents in building a thriving connection.
The training is composed of two parts. Part one is a two-hour training focusing on providing key terms, shared stories, lived experience activities and connection building. Part two takes place in a smaller setting that teaches and discusses various topics such as race, ageism, mental and physical disabilities and sexual orientation.
Each employee will receive DEI training as a part of their onboarding within the first 30 to 90 days of employment.
“I want people to pause when they hear the word ‘diversity’ and be curious about all it has to offer,” she said. “Fear will limit you, but curiosity gives you unlimited access to something new. We just need to lean-in.”
The D&I Committee will open several new seats for all employees in April. This will provide more insight and opportunity, thus empowering individual growth for a greater impact. The committee will provide tools and training to assist new members in building an inclusive workplace.
The committee will also create a plan of action with a shared commitment to Fowler’s senior residents and their lived experiences.
Here is how the work of Juliette Fowler’s DEI training affected members of its community:
Emily Martinez, assisted living housekeeper, has worked at JFC for 13 years. She always takes training courses at the organization and added the D&I training to her agenda.
She enjoys going to trainings because it helps her better understand the company and learn how she can grow as an employee. She said this training was different because it went beyond the standard work ethics trainings usually provided.
“There’s some stuff that I learned and there’s some stuff that I shouldn’t do. It helped me understand more of what’s going on,” Martinez said.
Martinez said she recommends this training because it teaches to be self-aware, get involved and to overcome periods of discomfort, such as racism and unconscious bias.
“It’s helped me to see more of what I can do here. You know, make me have a goal to do something else here. I can grow with this company,” she said.
Ivy Luu, accounting II, has worked at JFC for six months now. She heard about the diversity training through an email from her manager.
She wanted to see what the training was about, so she attended with her co-worker.
“Diversity is about race and different cultures,” Luu said “When I go there, I listen to all the stories told by my co-workers.”
Luu said the stories she heard were interesting and it caught her eye which sparked her curiosity.
“It caught my eye,” she said. “When I hear a story that is interesting, I say ‘Oh, that will be the best one for me to ask questions about.”
She said the training made her feel closer to her co-workers because she now understands them and can have deeper discussions without feeling uncomfortable.
Lori Rice, Juliette Fowler Communities’ clinical services director and registered nurse, first worked at Fowler ine 2009. After returning to Fowler in 2021, Rice received an email from Coit about the program encouraging her and her team to enroll.
Rice said she loved the training and since working with Coit indirectly it was nice seeing her in this new role. She said Coit was so knowledgeable on the subject and she clearly showed passion in her work.
She said the context of the training was important because it discussed issues that have been ignored for a long time.
“We just went along with our lives pretending that we don’t have these differences and that we don’t have the similarities, just not knowing how to connect with each other,” Rice said. “And I think that the content really just lent itself to that.”
Rice said she would recommend this training because it’s important to understand how people are feeling facing discrimination even if it does not apply to you. She will apply what she learned in the training by taking into consideration everyone’s lived experiences.
“Everybody has a different experience. So I think that I’m going to just try and be more mindful of that,” she said.