To advance diversity and inclusion within KVC Health Systems’ workplaces and in the communities it serves, KVC President and CEO Jason Hooper has signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ pledge. In addition, the leaders of KVC’s seven subsidiaries have also signed the pledge, solidifying the organization’s deep commitment to people in every role, team, and area of the country.
CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ is a nationwide movement that aims to rally the business and nonprofit community to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace. The CEO pledge outlines a specific set of actions the signatory CEOs will take to cultivate a trusting environment where all ideas are welcomed, and employees feel comfortable and empowered to have discussions about diversity and inclusion.
The KVC leaders who signed the pledge are:
- Jason Hooper, President and CEO of KVC Health Systems (Olathe, KS)
- Michelle Lawrence, President of the KVC Foundation (Olathe, KS)
- Dr. Linda Bass, President of KVC Kansas (Olathe, KS)
- Robert (Bobby) Eklofe, President of KVC Hospitals (Kansas City, KS)
- Lindsey Stephenson, President of KVC Missouri (Kansas City, MO)
- Gina Klyachkin, President of KVC Kentucky (Lexington, KY)
- Ashley Brown, President of KVC Nebraska (Omaha, NE)
- Brent Lemon, President of KVC West Virginia (Charleston, WV)
- In addition, Dr. Abyssinia Washington Tabron, KVC’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion leader, will champion implementation of the commitment nationwide.
KVC Health Systems is a family of private, nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations that strengthen families, prevent child abuse and neglect, and help people achieve mental health wellness. The organization has about 1,500 professionals nationwide across 35 locations in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Kentucky, and West Virginia. KVC has positively impacted the lives of over 300,000 people in its 50+ year history of providing heart-centered service to children and families. Its services include in-home family support, foster care, adoption, mental and behavioral healthcare, and inpatient children’s psychiatric treatment.
What the CEO Pledge Commitment Includes
Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. The #MeToo movement. These are just a few of the searing events and issues that have inflicted pain, sparked national protests, and led to unrest in communities across America.
Companies and their executives know that silence is not an option. Whether the topic is race and gender equality, sexual orientation, or religious tolerance, the business and nonprofit community has a responsibility to lead and unique capacity to create real change.
Now, nearly 2,000 CEOs across the U.S. including the CEO of KVC Health Systems have committed to implement a pledge to diversity and inclusion within their workplaces.
Together, the leaders of some of America’s largest organizations manage thousands of employees and play a critical role in ensuring that inclusion is core to our workplace culture and that our businesses are representative of the communities we serve. Moreover, business and nonprofits leaders know that diversity is good for the economy; it improves corporate performance, drives growth and enhances employee engagement.
Simply put, organizations with diverse teams perform better.
KVC Health Systems and the other signatories recognize that diversity and inclusion are multifaceted issues and that we need to tackle these subjects holistically to better engage and support all underrepresented groups within business. To do this, we believe we also need to address honestly and head-on the concerns and needs of our diverse employees and increase equity for all, including Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, LGBTQIA+ people, people with disabilities, veterans, and women. Collectively as business and nonprofit leaders, we agree that we must do more. For us, this means committing to four goals we believe will catalyze further conversations and actions around diversity and inclusion within the workplace and foster collaboration among our organizations:
- We will continue to make our workplaces trusting places to have complex, and sometimes difficult, conversations about diversity and inclusion: We will create and maintain environments, platforms, and forums where our people feel comfortable reaching out to their colleagues to gain greater awareness of each other’s experiences and perspectives. By encouraging an ongoing dialogue and not tolerating any incongruence with these values of openness, we are building trust, encouraging compassion and open-mindedness, and reinforcing our commitment to a culture of inclusivity.
- We will implement and expand unconscious bias education: Experts tell us that we all have unconscious biases — that is human nature. Unconscious bias education enables individuals to begin recognizing, acknowledging, and therefore minimizing any potential blind spots he or she might have, but wasn’t aware of previously. We will commit to rolling out and/or expanding unconscious bias education within our companies in the form that best fits our specific culture and business. By helping our employees recognize and minimize their blind spots, we aim to facilitate more open and honest conversations. Additionally, we will make non-proprietary unconscious bias education modules available to others free of charge.
- We will share best—and unsuccessful—practices: Each of our companies has established programs and initiatives around diversity and inclusion. Yet, we know that many companies are still developing their strategies. We will commit to helping other companies evolve and enhance their current diversity strategies and encourage them, in turn, to share their successes and challenges with others.
- We will create and share strategic inclusion and diversity plans with our board of directors. We will work with our board of directors (or equivalent governing bodies) through the development and evaluation of concrete, strategic action plans to prioritize and drive accountability around diversity and inclusion. Given the shared responsibility for driving strategies that help companies thrive, boards and CEOs play an important role in driving action together to cultivate inclusive cultures and talent.
We also pledge to create accountability systems within our companies to track our own progress and to share regular updates with each other in order to catalog effective programs and measurement practices. We believe that by sharing and learning with each other, we can strengthen our existing programs and commitments to better serve our employees and society.
We recognize that these four commitments are not the complete answer, but we believe they are important, concrete steps toward building more diverse and inclusive workplaces. We hope our list of signatories will grow, and we invite other CEOs across America to join us.
We want to come together to make good on the inherent promise that all of our people should be able to bring their best selves to work and unleash their full potential. By working together toward diversity and inclusion within our workplaces, industries, and broader business and nonprofit community, we can cultivate meaningful change for our society.
Why Diversity & Inclusion Are at the Heart of KVC’s Mission
As a child and family serving organization, KVC commits to treating every person with compassion and respect. We do not discriminate based on race, color, religion, gender, gender expression, age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status.
We recognize the profound impact racism and other biases have on the health and wellbeing of children, families, and communities. We commit to creating a positive, supportive culture where all are welcome and to providing the highest quality services to all children, adults, and families.
By embracing an empathetic, pro-people, anti-racist, inclusive approach, we put our whole hearts into achieving our vision: a world in which every person is safe and connected to a strong family and a healthy community.
In early 2022, KVC Health Systems named Dr. Abyssinia (Aby) Washington Tabron as its new leader for diversity, equity, and inclusion. She is also Director of Wellbeing and Clinical Practice for the KVC Institute.
Erin Stucky, Chief Operations Officer for KVC Health Systems, said “Expanding diversity, equity and inclusion is an expression of our KVC values and critical to our work as social workers, therapists, and other helping professionals. KVC’s DEI commitment also comes from our vision of the positive, inclusive culture we want for every employee and the compassionate, high-quality services we want to provide to every child, young person, and adult. KVC has made some important first steps in expanding DEI, but we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the rich creativity, innovation and value that come from celebrating each person’s individuality.”
Some of KVC Health Systems’ recent efforts to deepen diversity, equity and inclusion include:
- Addressing racial disparities in the foster care and child welfare system (learn more)
- Actively recruiting diverse professionals to become KVC employees (learn more)
- Participating in diverse groups like the Asian American Chamber of Commerce and Mid-America LGBT Chamber of Commerce
- Educating communities about the mental health needs of LGBTQIA individuals and sharing resources (learn more)
- Converting restrooms to be gender neutral
- Developing an inclusive LGBTQIA+ language guide to help team members
- Training all KVC team members on diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Publicly stating our DEI commitment on our front doors and lobbies
- Asking clients and supporters how well we treat individuals and respect diversity on surveys
To learn more about KVC’s DEI efforts or to share ideas, visit www.kvc.org/diversity.