While Vertical Harvest has always held a deep commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), we’ve realized that, just like with anything else, if you don’t keep something on the front burner, it will get moved to the back. 

DEI is too important to slide into the back burner!

Key members of our team, including Co-Founder Caroline Croft Estay and February 2021 Changemaker of the Month, Thibaud Sanchez, will soon spearhead a program to keep our DEI always top of mind. Working with The Jackson Hole DEI Collective, they will begin the Compass Training process. This process was developed by Nova Collective, a black-owned, women-owned company devoted to transforming organizational cultures.

Our internal team will use Nova’s training tools to create a custom program specifically for Vertical Harvest. Stay tuned for more details on that as the weeks go on. 

Informal Lunches & Resources

In addition to the formal program in the works, the team recently began informal monthly working lunches. Each lunch features a different DEI theme. For example, employees spent this first quarter of 2021 unpacking what the words Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion actually mean (some learnings from that below). In the second quarter they will move on to other topics, including gender issues, LGBTQ issues, and multigenerational diversity issues. 

The DEI team also is building a resource library of books, podcasts, videos and other resources, which we will soon add to the Inclusion page here on the Vertical Harvest website. We also will open up this very blog to many more diverse voices, both within the company (Voices of Vertical Harvest) and without (Guest Voices). Finally, we are researching ways to actively pursue anti-racism work in our local Teton County community and in our expansion communities across the U.S.

As a company and a nation, as we work to form a more perfect union and a more perfect workplace, we want to always keep the lessons and learnings of DEI in mind. Here are three  key takeaways from the last few months:  

  1. Equity Defined: “Equality” means everyone gets a pair of shoes. “Equity” means everyone gets shoes that actually fit. Solutions and opportunities are not and should not be one size fits all. They must take into account the variables that led to inequity. 
  2. Communities are Not Monolithic: Not every person in a minority group thinks the same as the next. Even here at Vertical Harvest, our disabled employees had very differing views as what terminology we should use to refer to that part of our workforce. While half felt more comfortable with the term “differently abled,” finding it positive and all-encompassing; the other half preferred “developmentally disabled,” finding it less patronizing and more direct. So, we use both!
  3. Lead with Understanding and Meet People Where They Are: We should always be committed to “calling people in” instead of simply calling people out. This means that while we must be vigilant in pointing out racism or cultural appropriation in any form, we should approach these interactions in a kind and inclusive way.