Not gonna lie – the past three weeks have been a struggle for us here at The HERD! Due to unforeseen circumstances, we found ourselves short staffed during our busiest time of year. Leading an organization through a rough patch without putting undue expectations and burdens on staff members who are already working at capacity is a juggling act. I’m grateful to our team behind the scenes who were willing to step up and flex with changes. It’s at times like these that I really feel the complexities of running an organization and recognize the importance of communications within our community. And while there will always be bumps in the road, our commitment to our core values of creating an intentionally inclusive learning environment through a lens of cultural humility remains front and center.
Amid our scrambling to find a staffing solution, I was momentarily persuaded to consider outsourcing our requirements offshore. My friends who work in corporate environments encouraged me to explore hiring a virtual assistant through an agency that contracts workers in India and the Philippines. They gave me solid business (i.e. financial) reasons why this would be suitable for my needs while allowing me to get tasks completed, suggesting that I needed someone to fill the gap so why not try this as an interim arrangement. There were so many logical reasons why this was a good idea: cheaper, more efficient, task-focused workers who would be paid an hourly rate above what they would get locally for similar roles, so surely there was no ethical dilemma? “These people are grateful for these jobs and the level of pay, and they work really hard”, I was told.
Maybe. Maybe not. With my business lens, I could absolutely see how this might be beneficial to me. With my ethical lens, I could not justify this colonial perspective. But I dithered and was persuaded to try it under the guise of no harm, no foul – and I was desperate for help.
Ultimately, after one day, I realized that I had gaslit myself. Every fiber of my being was rejecting the dynamics of the situation, so I put a stop to the process. This was not okay. It did not align with our values as an organization; it did not feel authentic or relational; and I felt I had compromised my core beliefs. The shame that came with this realization was enormous and yet I am grateful for this experience. Now, I know how easy it can be to choose convenience over actually walking the walk. Now, I know that at times of struggle and moments of desperation, I will make mistakes but will also have the courage to correct them. Now, I know with certainty, that my actions speak louder than words and that if I am truly committed to doing the work required to dismantle systems of oppression, I need to pay attention to ways our society condones these systems by couching them in business efficiency. It’s also yet another reminder to listen to my gut.
With that said, I can proudly announce that we are open for registrations for our 2nd Diversifying The HERD Virtual Summit, which will be held on Saturday, September 10, 2022 from 9am – 6pm EST. This year, we are focusing on the intersectionalities in discussions on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our keynote speakers, Abriana Johnson and Brittney Chambers, will present on how to decolonize your equine programs. We’ll be bringing back panelists Kathy Alm, CEO, PATH International, and Michael Kaufmann, from Green Chimneys, and introducing Nahshon Cook and Patricia Jackson, in a discussion on how to bring diversity, equity, and inclusion to all levels of your organization. We’ll be exploring what inclusion feels like and reflecting on what has changed in the 18 months since our first Diversifying The HERD Virtual Summit. Join us to learn in community, acknowledging what we don’t know, and the mistakes we make along the way, so that we can take intentional action to continue to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the equine facilitated industry.
I know I still have a lot to learn. I look forward to connecting with you all on Saturday, September, 10!