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April 28, 2022

Introducing our Integrated Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Council

Introducing our Integrated Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Council

At The Emily Program, Veritas Collaborative, and our parent company Accanto Health, our care extends beyond eating disorders. We care for people—those we serve and those we work with. We share a firm belief that each person belongs here, understanding that diversity in identity, experience, and perspective is critical to our work. In our relationships with colleagues and clients, we value trust, respect, and a commitment to inclusion.

This commitment is a shared responsibility. Helping us ensure that our values are reflected in our practices and policies is Accanto Health’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Council. With staff from both The Emily Program and Veritas Collaborative, the EDI Council plays an essential role in advancing meaningful change both internally and externally.

Accanto Health’s EDI Council

Accanto Health’s EDI Council is a group of staff members dedicated to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in our work and treatment environments. With representation from different locations, departments, and levels of the organization, the Council advocates for the needs, interests, and rights of staff and clients, particularly those who hold marginalized identities. Council members champion inclusive policies and practices, in addition to providing space for reflection and support when social justice is challenged at a local, national, and global level.

The Council is guided by a mission statement that affirms our organization’s cultural values:

We are Accanto Health. We are diverse and our diversity is what makes us strong. Our diversity of training, background, job function, gender identity, ethnic background, and perspective enables us to create the most optimal care for our patients and the most collaborative work environment. By practicing radical inclusivity, we draw on the strengths of all our staff members’ training, expertise, background, and life experience to create a company culture that values all people. The focus of this Council is to provide direction and leadership for our organization—to deepen this culture at every site for every staff member. The goal is to lead by example as an organization in our industry and culture to demonstrate the power of a company that embraces diversity of thought and background.

In promoting shared accountability for a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community, the EDI Council is an instrument for change within our organization and beyond. 

EDI Council Roles and Responsibilities

The EDI Council is led by an Advisory Council comprised of the following members:

  • The Chair of the Council, who elevates the Council’s observations, feedback, and recommendations to Accanto Health’s Executive Team. The Chair’s role is to provide support, advocacy, and guidance in aligning the Council’s efforts with the goals of the organization.
  • The Internal Communications Coordinator and External Communications Coordinator, who create and deliver messages internally and externally.
  • Site Coordinators, who coordinate meetings, plan events, and follow up on action items at their Emily Program or Veritas Collaborative site.

There are also more than 45 members on Accanto Health’s EDI Council, with new members always welcome. Council members are responsible for the following:

  • Creating opportunities for staff and leadership to engage on issues related to cultural inclusivity and equity
  • Advising on programs and policies that impact diversity and inclusion in our organization
  • Identifying barriers that affect recruitment, retention, advancement, and training
  • Challenging the status quo to identify better ways to champion EDI
  • Discussing and voting on EDI-related decisions 

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

Like many Emily Program and Veritas Collaborative teams, the EDI Council integrated when our brands merged last year. The integration process began with an evaluation of existing policies, practices, and efforts related to equity, diversity, and inclusion. An external anti-racist consultant, Kenya Crawford, designed and administered an anonymous survey for staff and clients, interviewed stakeholders, and held racial affinity groups to gather unique perspectives and experiences. This feedback is currently being integrated into policies, programs, and plans to better embrace diversity in all its forms.

To further elevate and support the needs of staff, the EDI Council also hosts EDI Community Conversations, formerly known as EDI Town Halls. These monthly meetings provide space for dialogue and reflection on current topics and events. Among the subjects discussed so far are the Black Lives Matter movement, gerrymandering, voting, the Olympics, cultural appropriation, and more.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Eating Disorder Treatment

As an eating disorder treatment organization, we must acknowledge the role our field has played in upholding systemic inequities. Though eating disorders can affect anyone—people of all ages, genders, races, ethnicities, sizes, abilities, socioeconomic groups, and cultural backgrounds—significant disparities in diagnosis, access, and treatment still exist. The EDI Council is engaged in discussions about underrepresented and underserved populations within the eating disorder field and our specific programs. We’ve discussed specific considerations for BIPOC clients, gender-diverse clients, and clients in larger bodies, and staff have been trained on diversity, LGBTQIA+ -affirming care, identifying and addressing microaggressions, and more. Training is ongoing and evolving.

In our treatment programs, the EDI Council also hosts Heritage Months to recognize the history, contributions, and current concerns of different heritage groups. Relevant lessons, activities, and conversations are geared toward better understanding and embracing diverse perspectives and experiences, with a focus on amplifying the unique needs of our local communities.

Here are some examples of the EDI Message Boards at our sites, each highlighting a recent Heritage Month:

   Autism acceptance month bulletin board with informational and inspirational messages on it

Spirit weeks are another way the EDI Council involves clients and families in Heritage Months: 

Accanto’s EDI Council is fiercely committed to promoting the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion within our organization. While change is slow and our efforts so far are not nearly enough, we look forward to sharing more as we advance this important work together.

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