Embracing Diversity and Inclusion at The Junior League of Atlanta, Inc.
By Shirley Anne Smith, Diversity & Inclusion Committee Co-Chair
The Junior League of Atlanta, Inc. (JLA) exemplifies modern hospitality. Much like Atlanta itself, the JLA strives to be warm, welcoming and inclusive of all. And like Atlanta, the organization values cultivating diversity and inclusion as a catalyst for positive change.
The Junior League of Atlanta is the third largest Junior League in the world; and one of the most diverse in terms of membership and leadership. While we celebrate the progress of our League’s diversity, we will continually strive to be as diverse as our great city. Our location in the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement is a reminder of our duty to strive for equality among our members and the citizens of the beautiful city we serve. We owe it to Atlanta to keep the legacy of progress alive.
The JLA has been at the forefront of efforts by Junior Leagues internationally to champion diversity and inclusion. In 2016, the JLA launched a diversity and inclusion (DI) task force charged with researching diversity and inclusion best practices at other junior leagues and like organizations, researching potential gaps within the JLA and beginning to outline a path forward to harnessing the power of all women. The recommendations from the task force led to the adoption of JLA’s Diversity and Inclusion Commitment Statement, guiding us in our DI efforts and serving as a reminder that we are the place for all of Atlanta’s women to grow, serve and lead. As we mark the JLA’s 102nd year of service, the 2018 D&I Committee will expand on past efforts by focusing on a simple, yet ambitious goal – promoting diversity and inclusion among the JLA’s membership, partnerships and vendors.
Over the next year and beyond, the D&I Committee will push the JLA and its members to be intentional in our recruitment and retention of diverse members and leaders. Further, that intention will be reflected in the diversity of organizations that serve as JLA partners and vendors. The D&I Committee’s work, which will include thought-provoking conversations, trainings, experiences, and policy revisions, will help the JLA increasingly reflect the city that we serve and be the place in Atlanta where every woman and girl can see herself represented. If successful, the JLA will continue to be uniquely positioned as a thought leader and successful model not just for other Junior Leagues, but for ourselves, our families, our employers, and our community.