Embracing the work: an update on KCUR’s diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts
KCUR has spent 18 months on intensive work to address our organization’s concerns about diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. While we know we have yet to address some of our most difficult challenges, we believe we have made significant progress and it’s time for an update.
Like media organizations throughout the country, our journalists were on the front lines of the protests and unrest in the summer of 2020 following violence on Black Americans including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others. Through their reporting, they examined the frustrations, desperation, heartache and hope coming from all corners of the Kansas City metro.
We did not shy away from examining those same frustrations within the walls of KCUR. That summer, many members of KCUR’s staff raised concerns that the organization’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts had been insufficient. In the following weeks, all KCUR staff had the opportunity to participate in small group discussions to elaborate on those concerns and help a newly formed DEIB team organize and prioritize their efforts.
In October 2020, KCUR was one of the first stations to sign on to the Public Media for All pledge as a partner station, working to raise awareness of “the negative effects of a lack of diversity, equity and inclusion in public media, and sharing solutions for individuals and organizations.”
We also began a deep dive into issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) at KCUR. We formed task forces to make recommendations for improving our policies and culture. All staff have participated in trainings led by local and national leaders in the field.
We joined the Kansas City REDI (Race, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) Community of Practice, comprising more than 20 area organizations committed to serving as key drivers of change, an effort supported by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
We implemented new methods for tracking the diversity of our sources, so that the voices in our stories accurately represent the communities we serve. We also made comprehensive changes to our onboarding process and work flexibility policies, as well as changes to our hiring practices, to ensure all applicants and new employees are treated equitably. We are making concerted efforts to ensure that the shows and voices on KCUR better reflect the Kansas City region we serve.
And Ron Jones has begun hosting monthly meetings for BIPOC staffers to talk about their experiences, to discuss issues of concern and to foster a sense of belonging.
We know this is only a beginning, that it often takes longer to make change than we’d like, and that this work is not the type that can ever truly end. We continue to seek diverse perspectives, implement policies and strategies that advance these efforts, and apply our own values of integrity, curiosity and credibility to our work.