An update from the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) Officer, Charles Burk:
This is long, but it’s very important!
The Board of Directors directed the Corporate DEIB Officer to begin drafting the corpora language and implementation strategy for the following DEIB/Retention & Recruiting initiatives for review and public commentary.
In late 2022 the board of directors published a DEI strategy outlining multiple goals for DEIB in the SCA and approved six initiatives at the April, 2023 board meeting that move forward on that strategy.
One of those items was to partner with the Society Chatelaine to build training for new members. The following proposal for consideration is intended as a broad Recruiting and Retention package for public commentary that expands upon that directive and addresses this strategic item.
Recruiting and Retention are key areas of focus for the SCA. Coming out of COVID, membership and engagement have not returned to pre-COVID levels. Prior to COVID we were already seeing a decline in paid membership, and COVID exacerbated the problem. The SCA must focus on recruiting and retention, differently than it has, in order to stay viable for another half-century. To this end, I have several requests, all of which will need to go for public commentary, and as such they are packaged for the populace as a single, large DEIB Recruiting and Retention Proposal
- Create a Society Greater Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. This role will function like other greater officer roles with the Kingdom officers reporting up to the Society DEIB officer. This will require all kingdoms to have a DEIB officer in place and will be a kingdom greater officer reporting to the Society Greater Officer. If we cannot get to Inclusion and Belonging, game-facing, in the SCA, then we have little hope of successfully recruiting new members to the SCA from marginalized communities. After being in this office for five months, I am raising this concern now – all kingdom and local DEI(B) officers are not on the same page, and some are actually doing it wrong. They are putting us at some level of liability, ranging from brand damaging – to legal.This is not due to animus but rather a lack of top-down DEIB strategy. Our Kingdom and local DEI(B) officers must be on the same page and saying the same things. Secondly, we should train our Chatelaines to incorporate DEIB in to their work, as they are the most impactful from a recruiting perspective. They are our front line.
In the April Board meeting I was tasked to start writing the handbook for a Society DEIB office and build a work group to begin defining what this would look like to standardize across kingdoms. This authoring work is underway, and the workgroup is forming. For the Society DEIB Office Handbook, the author has been identified (because I am NOT a technical writer), and the content is under development. We expect to deliver the first draft for review in the next two weeks. The Handbook developed by the prior DEI officer is an amazing place to build from, and I am expanding upon the scope and responsibility required for this office. We are crafting a new handbook using many pieces of the old handbook as applicable.
- In order to work in this direction, it is my fervent recommendation to see the Board elevate the Office of Society Chatelaine to a Society Greater Office instead of a deputy of the Society Seneschal. The kingdom Chatelaines would report up through the Society Chatelaine and local Chatelaines reporting to the Kingdom Chatelaines with all of them taking their strategic direction from the Society Chatelaine rather than serving as deputies to other offices.
One of the biggest problems we have with recruiting is that we are not nearly as effective as we could be. At all. Recruiting happens at all levels in the SCA, and we need education and guidance on how we effectively recruit members. The lack of a standardized vision for recruiting is harming the SCA, as each chatelaine, to their own abilities, does whatever they think is best. We have to train those willing bodies on how to do this right in a concerted and consistent way.
There are actual organizational strategies for recruiting, that if we aligned the chatelaine offices under a society greater office, and empowered that office to implement society wide recruiting strategies, we could then employ those strategically and consistently top down and bottom up to deliver a steady increase year over year in members that are retained. By making this change in organization to the chatelaines office, this furthers the boards DEIB strategy for a new member DEIB approach as it empowers the correct people to do this work.
- Change the scope (and possibly the name) of the Corporate DEIB Office to owning strategy consulting and the programmatic support for DEIB recruiting and retention efforts supporting both the Society DEIB officer and the Society Chatelaine with broad-scale implementations as well as serving as principle advisor to the Board of Directors and other corporate bodies.
This office would own things like: administration and compliance of required training for Society, Corporate, and Kingdom officers by maintaining a corporate Learning Management System (see next bullet point on Learning Management System approval.) This office would own the implementation of programmatic, society wide DEIB initiatives that impact recruiting and retention. As an example, Newcomer and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives that are infrastructure based like implementing a society-wide way to track and publish site accessibility features, or create and implement mandatory society-wide management training.
This allows the Society DEIB Officer and the Society Chatelaine to focus on all the game-facing initiatives and not also have to focus on the infrastructural ones as well.
- Approve acquiring a Learning Management System to house, track, and report out on all corporate training. In the April, 2023 Board meeting, the Board of Directors approved mandatory DEIB training for Corporate, Society, and Kingdom officers including crowns, and territorial Prince/Princesses. The best mechanism to do this at scale is to invest in an LMS that houses all the training, provides the platform to develop the training in, the tracking to see who has completed it, and the reporting to identify performance, trends and opportunities in the learning process. Employing an LMS will allow Officers to build onboarding for new deputies and down-line reporting officers. Another win this provides is it allows the DEIB office and the Chatelaine’s office to house all their front-line Chatelaine training in one place and ensure everyone has learned from the same content. It will enable us, as a corporation, to learn and standardize that learning at scale. With further investment it would house all corporate training in one location, which would provide valuable data insights.
Separately from the above, the Board also did the following which also impacts Equity, Inclusion and Belonging:
The Board of Directors approved sending for public commentary a change in how members of the BoD are selected. Instead of requiring a unanimous vote, it requires a unanimous vote minus one. This prevents one Director from holding the rest of the directors hostage during the selection process, which has impacted significantly the selection process in the past, including yours truly when I was interviewed for the board. This is an amazing move on the part of the Directors to start START building equity in to the governing of our organization. I am looking forward to seeing what additional items they bring forward in the future to continue to move in this direction.
Our new Society Earl Marshall was announced. In a significant departure from historical precedent the new SEM is not a Knight, is an equestrian, and identifies as female. She is a Pelican and holds numerous grant-level fighting awards including a White Scarf as well as serving as Caid’s Kingdom Earl Marshall and a deputy SEM for equestrian. Congratulations to Mistress Arabella da Siena, OP!
In a move to limit bullying through power harassment, the Society Seneschal proposed to amend Corpora to restrict the Crown’s ability to misuse consent to enter crown list as a mechanism for targeting members of the populace. The board of directors approved this for public commentary.
(This post was originally shared by the SCA Inc Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Officer on the official DEIB Facebook page.)
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