Every role at VHA contributes to something amazing. At Home with VHA tells the stories of those who make up VHA Home HealthCare. Meet Adam Benn, who joined VHA in August 2021 as our first-ever Manager of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.
Tell us a little bit about what brought you to VHA, and your new role.
I have worked for over ten years in healthcare, working primarily in community health care. Most recently I worked at Humber College as the Manager, Education and Training at the Centre for Human Rights, Equity & Inclusion. One of the key reasons I came to VHA: I saw the opening at VHA as an opportunity for me to leverage my experience in healthcare with the equity, diversity and inclusion work that I have been doing for the past few years.
The other reason I came to VHA was that I saw the opportunity for transformative change within the healthcare sector. Since the beginning of the pandemic to now, our society has become much more open and knowledgeable around issues involving equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism. Over the past year, many sectors, including the healthcare sector, have begun the necessary work to create a more equitable and fair system. This is an opportunity for VHA, VHA staff and clients to begin to address systemic racism and discrimination that has been built into the system.
My new role at VHA is focused on championing, developing, and bringing to life a strategy that supports and builds the foundation necessary for diversity, equity, and inclusion practices and outcomes that will become integral components of VHA’s strategy, operations, and culture. The role will partner with various stakeholders to ensure that organizational practices and Client Services are provided through the perspective of an anti-racist informed and anti-oppressive lens.
The role will also support and promote a positive working and learning culture that values all forms of diversity and fosters equity and inclusion through the co-ordination of related policy and program development, special advisory services and resources, communications and training that support organizational and legislative commitments (Human Rights, AODA) and increase awareness of anti-racism, anti-oppression, diversity, and inclusion issues.
Why are you passionate about this area of work?
I am passionate about this area of work because diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) impact who we are and everything we do. Especially living and working in such a diverse province, DEI is an important skill that we need to develop in order to be successful.
Many of us have developed these skills from our day-to-day interactions; as we have responded to our work and living conditions. In DEI work, we see these skills as competences. Yes – these are skills that many are already bringing with them, but these are also skills that can develop and grow with the right level of support and willingness on the side of the participant. Opening the door to new and exciting opportunities. I am passionate about this work because I see it as an opportunity to support the growth and development not only of VHA as an organization, but also the growth and development of the individuals and groups that make up VHA’s staff.
What are some strategies you hope to bring to VHA?
First and foremost, I want to recognize the hard work of VHA staff and the Anti-Black Racism committee in creating a solid foundation of diversity, equity and inclusion work. One of the key principles of equity is the reminder that we are here and we have gotten as far as we have because of the hard work of those individuals who have come before us, and that have addressed the system to create the conditions we have today. For over a year, VHA’s Anti-Black Racism Group has been addressing diversity, equity and inclusion in four key areas: advocacy, data collection & reporting, education & training and policy & communication.
The strategies I hope to bring are meant to support this ongoing work in these key areas. Focusing on ensuring that the necessary structure is present to support the work. This means using models such as logic models and/or theories of change to better understand the changes that we are trying to make, while also considering the impact of the larger environment; as well as using workplans to help ensure that we are staying accountable to the goals of the organization. Finally, I am also hoping to engage the broader VHA community in the process so that the organization is aware of the great work that is happening, and can actively contribute to the process as it unfolds.
Do you have any initial goals for your first weeks or months with VHA?
My primary goal is to connect with staff at VHA to better understand how diversity, equity and inclusion connect with the work.
As well, the Anti-Black Racism Committee: Data Collection & reporting working group facilitated a Workplace Diversity, Equity and Inclusion survey that has brought in a significant amount of data. A key part of doing this work is using data and assessments to better understand how VHA is currently doing around diversity, equity and inclusion. We will be analyzing data and creating our first report this fall. From there we will work on our DEI strategy for 2022 and beyond.
Last but not least, what are some of your passions and hobbies outside of work?
I enjoy working out, reading, movies and travel in my spare time. My favourite place that I have visited is Cambodia.
Anything else you’d like to add?
It is a pleasure to be here!