Recently we shared a public statement about racism, injustice and inequity and outlined our organizational commitment. This follow-up message is the first of many public updates we will provide as we strive to be both transparent and accountable in this critical area.
I firmly believe systemic racism must be dismantled, and I will be part of the solution both personally and professionally. As the voices of the Black Lives Matter movement call for increased equity and social justice, Conscious Discipline will answer with unequivocal support and actionable change.
Conscious Discipline’s methodology is based on and steeped in inclusion. Inclusion and unity are inseparable from our philosophy. Having said that, we are acutely aware that our company profile— particularly that of the independent contractors who make up our Certified and Master Instructor program— does not sufficiently represent the diverse cultures of many of the schools we support. Although our methodology is inherently culturally sustaining and inclusive, we believe increasing our team’s diversity will strengthen our resource offerings, our organization and ourselves, and is essential in supporting racial justice. With the urgency and importance of current events laying many of these issues raw, I feel it is important to convey some of the efforts we’ve taken over the past few years and our current commitments toward lasting change.
CERTIFIED INSTRUCTORS (INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS)
Conscious Discipline Certified Instructors and Master Instructors are independent contractors who are licensed to teach Conscious Discipline. The first 15 years of our Instructor Certification program relied on candidates seeking us out in order to become consultants. This yielded some phenomenal Instructors, but also resulted in many who came from similar life experiences— most were white, female, 35+ years old, suburban and middle class. Our pool of Instructors did not reflect the rich diversity of our nation.
In 2015, we paused in accepting applications for Certified Instructors in order to undertake a dramatic reorganization. In 2017, we launched additional organizational shifts to increase equity, address the lack of diversity, and provide additional training and coaching in our onboarding process. Most significantly, we reorganized into “family” units to provide better mentorship, and we changed from an application model to a recruitment model in order to focus on engaging people of color, especially Black Americans. This intentional shift helps us to actively identify, support, remove obstacles and fast-track promising candidates who are more diverse. It also helps us to better support our growing Instructor family. This worthwhile shift has required a significant investment of time and financial resources. Even with these focused efforts, this is a long-term endeavor as many of our Instructors implement Conscious Discipline for 5+ years before becoming Certified.
We will continue to build diversity and equity in our Certified Instructor program in the following ways:
- We will evaluate our Instructor Certification process to accelerate the multi-year requirements around the study, implementation and coaching needed for Certification in order to meet an initial goal of a minimum of 30% people of color, with an emphasis on Black Americans.
- We will provide diversity training to all Instructors via our family structure in order to encourage individual growth and assist Instructors in creating events that are culturally informed, inclusive and equitable.
- We will enlist a racial equity consultant and a committee from within our organization to work together to formulate the steps for these processes and assist in implementation. Establishing the committee, the specific steps and a timeline are all in-process, and we will periodically post progress updates.
The Conscious Discipline Advanced Institute (CD2) is an intense training limited to only 48 attendees and an essential step needed for Certification. In 2017, we shifted CD2 from open registration to an invitation-based event. We reserved 50% of CD2 invitations for people of color, with a definite focus on recruiting Black attendees. We then gifted scholarships to those for whom finances were a barrier. These endeavors have not yet yielded the diversity we seek, so we are examining additional ways to recruit more effectively. We will continue this initiative indefinitely as a specific, actionable step toward increasing equity within the Conscious Discipline community and within the educational system at large.
Over the past decade, I have intentionally sought out research and amended trainings to include information about intergenerational, cultural and generational trauma specifically as it relates to Black Americans and Native Americans. I will continue this internal educational process for myself and our Instructors in efforts to address cultural responsiveness, microaggression, unconscious/implicit bias and the general historical perspective that is neglected in our educational system at large. We will also continue to increase the prevalence of Black and brown teachers, administrators and mental health professionals featured in videos and images during our trainings.
Additionally in our trainings, we will be more intentional and direct about sharing the way Conscious Discipline is designed to function in relation to one’s personal experiences. Conscious Discipline utilizes skills, powers and structures, but no prescriptive curriculum. Our approach supports mindset shifts, a compassionate cultural climate (the School Family), and skills of interaction that promote resilience and healthy relationships for all stakeholders (children, adults, schools, communities, etc.). We ask adults to digest and internalize Conscious Discipline into their mental models of their world, culture, jobs, relationships and children in their care— especially regarding misbehavior. We ask each adult to utilize what they deem helpful and set aside anything that doesn’t resonate, essentially making each person’s experience with Conscious Discipline uniquely their own. One outcome of this personalization is the ability for Conscious Discipline to be culturally sustaining, accessible and applicable to all communities, including communities of color. In efforts to further ensure access to training and resources, Conscious Discipline has invested $1.5 million dollars into under-resourced areas to support their goals with Conscious Discipline in the past three years.
Since 2018, we have engaged a reputable external partner to guide our hiring processes. Our directive is to elevate the best possible candidates for each position, with a priority on increasing diversity in our offices. We currently have two leadership positions and one staff position open. Our goal is to fill these positions once we recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19. Promoting diversity will be a lead factor in filling these and future positions.
Moving forward, Conscious Discipline will provide ongoing education and growth opportunities for our office leadership and staff in the areas of unconscious bias and racial equity. We will engage independent experts to help assess and train employees in regard to our antiracism goals, beginning with our most critical leadership and public-facing job positions. This effort will start immediately using Insperity HR Services, and will expand as we identify additional partners.
In early June, we began to prioritize using social media to share antiracist and race education content from respected thought leaders, including Ibram X Kendi’s Raising Antiracist Kids event, CASEL’s SEL as a Lever for Equity series and the APA’s Uplifting Youth Through Healthy Communication About Race resources. We will continue to share antiracist content as an ongoing component of our messaging on all of our social media platforms. Our intent is to amplify leading voices and resource providers that encourage safe, productive conversations about racial equality, and to present educators, students, families and communities with opportunities for growth.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE
Like the world we live in, I am in a perpetual state of change and growth. Mistakes and missteps are essential to this process, and I have made many in my lifetime. A foundational concept in Conscious Discipline is to expand the pause between stimulus and reaction to create room for a conscious response. I am a teacher of this process, yet I am still learning this process. I believe the path to systemic and systematic change begins within each individual, and I am leading the way the best I know how— through continuous devotion to learning and improvement.
Over the past two years, these books and online courses have deepened my understanding of race issues and social justice, and helped to uncover my own unconscious bias:
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi
- Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice that Shapes What We See, Think and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt, Ph.D.
- Cultural Somatics online course by Resmaa Menakem
- Spare the Kids: Why Whupping Children Won’t Save Black America by Stacey Patton
- Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain by Zaretta Hammond
I am currently reading My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem and it is profound. I will continue to seek out powerful resources to shape my personal growth as well as the content and organizational policies of Conscious Discipline.
Conscious Discipline has consistently sought to prioritize cultural sensitivity and accessibility in our products and materials, including inviting input and making related improvements. For example:
- We have historically instructed our directors and managers to ensure cultural diversity in the content and images featured in our products and support materials. This will continue in a more strategic way, including increased staff training and enlisting guidance from independent experts.
- In 2019, an outside firm reviewed the Conscious Discipline e-Course to reveal implicit bias in the content. My team corrected the content that could be changed, and I used the insights as an opportunity for improvement and growth.
- We have made multiple adjustments to the fabric of the Feeling Buddies in order to address color variances in certain manufacturing runs. (The desired form for the Buddies is a unisex, racially ambiguous “gingerbread” appearance.)
Moving forward, we will more closely review all new products through the lens of diversity, cultural sensitivity and inclusiveness. Our internal diversity committee and independent experts will work together to develop a Diversity Assessment Framework that will help guide new product development, training, and the marketing of our products and resources.
These are initial steps that lay the foundation for much larger shifts to come. I am eager to actively seek ways to create equity and dismantle systemic racism through awareness, compassion, connection and action— starting within myself and Conscious Discipline, and extending outward to those we serve.
Our next step toward these commitments is to develop a specific and measurable plan that will include key milestones, metrics and timelines, and will grow as our knowledge expands. As new opportunities and concerns surface, we will responsively adjust this plan. We will strive for transparency by periodically sharing updates, benchmarks and celebrations on our website and through social media. We will be listening throughout this process, and are eager to hear from you about addressing racism, our progress or related matters. Please email [email protected] with your input.
As Maya Angelou famously said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” I am committed to learning more and doing better. My personal commitment to act in support of equity and social justice begins with myself and extends to my office staff, our Instructors and the Conscious Discipline family. We are all in this together, and we will continue the lifelong process of uncovering our false beliefs and unconscious biases; acquiring new skills; ensuring our policies and actions reflect our core principles of love, unity and equity; and actively living these values embedded in Conscious Discipline. Thank you for your willingness to join us on this journey.
Wishing you well,
Dr. Becky A Bailey
Founder & Chief Knowledge Officer, Conscious Discipline