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Notes from the field: For social responsibility

December 29, 2018


By James Condon, Recruiting Director, YMCA of Central Florida


Photo courtesy of YMCA of Central Florida


Many of us know social responsibility is one of the Y’s three pillars and areas of focus, and part of the compass for which we develop and deliver programs, but what does it mean? The dictionary defines it as “the obligation of an organization’s management towards the welfare and interests of the society in which it operates.” How should we look at this through the lens and framework of the Y’s Diversity, Inclusion and Global initiatives? How are we creating inclusion from the inside out, starting with our own employees and supporting all facets of our diverse communities?

It is imperative that we create an inclusive space for our staff, and in turn equip them with the skills to do the same for our members, volunteers and donors.

Did you know that LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning/queer) adults in the workplace often conceal information about their sexual orientation or gender identity in order to avoid bias or discrimination? One study identified that is especially applicable to people of color (12%), people with disabilities (15.5%), and young people aged 18–24 (18.7%), all of whom are impacted at a higher rates than their peers that identify differently.

Today the unemployment rate in Central Florida is below the national average at 2.7%. That means more and more employees have options for where they choose to work. This is especially relevant if we want to be viewed in the marketplace as an employer of choice, to attract quality candidates and retain our top-caliber talent. With more than 2,000 YMCA of Central Florida staff, we know that the people working in our Family Centers every day, who impact our community, are incredibly diverse. That is why it is imperative that we create an inclusive space for our staff, and in turn equip them with the skills to do the same for our members, volunteers, and donors.

In recent years, many companies, including the Y, are looking at benefits and policy changes to protect their LGBTQ employees and consumers. As of 2017, 91 percent of Fortune 500 companies have non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation. Eighty-three percent have non-discrimination policies that include gender identify. In the U.S., the LGBTQ population’s combined disposable income was estimated at $987 billion in 2017, up $80 million from 2015. Therefore, not only is it an imperative of our commitment to social responsibility, but creating an environment of inclusion that benefits society at large can also directly impact the Y’s membership acquisitions and philanthropy initiatives, and deepen the Y’s reach and create a greater impact for the mission.

Through the commitment and support from our senior YMCA team, the YMCA of Central Florida DIG committee is partnering with national and local organizations to collaborate with leaders in social equity to create a culture of inclusion while countering the bullying, harassment, social isolation, and bigotry that dramatically increase risk factors for LGBTQ youth and adults. With the generous resources provided by the Biden Foundation, the YMCA of Central Florida has established partnerships and begun conversations to create much needed support for our staff and members through policy updates, training opportunities and identifying tools that will sustain this momentum beyond the project end-date to have a greater impact.

As a relatively new member to the DIG committee it’s a rewarding experience. I’m given the opportunity to contribute to this initiative from a professional and personal lens as well as gain a new appreciation for my Y colleagues on a different level, all of which have diverse backgrounds, work experiences and individual strengths.



About the Author
James Condon is the Recruiting Director at the YMCA of Central Florida. He’s a member of the senior HR team with nine years of Association experience, but new to his list of hats is “Blogger”. James is passionate about helping people connect their talents with YMCA careers that have unlimited opportunities to make a positive impact in the community.

About the YMCA of Central Florida
The YMCA of Central Florida is one of the area’s largest nonprofits, serving more than 415,000 Central Floridians per year through a focus on Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility. With a Christian-based mission to improve lives and strengthen communities, it operates 22 YMCA locations across Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Brevard, Lake and Marion counties. This mission is expanded beyond the four walls of the Y through community-based programs to combat chronic disease, boost children’s after-school safety and learning and strengthen fragile neighborhoods.