Hello, everyone! We, the M2MG Board, want to share with you a bit about what we’ve been working on behind the scenes, and to reflect on our organization’s diversity and equity work.
First, where we’ve been. At the 2016 U.S. Breastfeeding Committee conference, we learned how unprepared we were as a Board and as an organization to engage with the work of diversity and equity. With careful consideration, we made a commitment to build equity, diversity, and inclusivity into the fabric of our organization. We did so because the military families we serve are richly diverse: in position, military rank, service branch, gender, race, creed, age, sexual orientation, national origin, cultural experience, disability, family status, gender identity, formal education, life experience, religion, languages, communication styles, geographic location, employment status, and work-related skill sets and experience.
Mom2Mom Global’s mission is to support and advocate for ALL breastfeeding military families and to help each individual meet personal breastfeeding goals. To fulfill this mission, our organization must be sensitive and responsive to all of these unique combinations of characteristics of military families. One year ago, in August of 2016, we made a commitment to take the following steps to begin our diversity work:
1. Craft a Diversity Statement laying out our official organizational position on the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion within our organization and our mission. Completed, November 2016
Mom2Mom Holloman, photo courtesy Journey Wings Photography
2. Create Diversity Training to introduce, define, and begin to work with concepts of diversity and equity work, such as privilege, oppression, equity vs. equality, and self-knowledge. Completed, November 2016
3. Ensure 100% of Mom2Mom Global’s leadership, including Board of Directors, volunteer staff, and Chapter leadership, completed the Diversity Training by December 15, 2016. Completed, February 2017
4. Increase representation of diversity on our Board of Directors.
August 2016 August 2017
80% white/20% Black 60% white/20% Black, 20% Latina
80% Army/20% Air Force 60% Army/20% Air Force/20% Coast Guard
100% Female, Spouse 100% Female, Spouse
60% ALC/ANLC, 20% IBCLC 40% ALC/ANLC, 20% IBCLC, 20% CLEC
100% fluent ONLY in English 80% fluent ONLY English, 20% bilingual English/Spanish
New Board Members hired: 0 New Board Members hired: 3*: 2 Black, 1 Latina, 1 Retired
Army, 1 Air Force, 1 Coast Guard
*1 Board Member had to step down due to personal circumstances; we still only have a total of 5
We are proud of the work we have begun and the steps forward we have made. And we are very proud and humbled by the courage of our Chapter Directors and Ambassadors, all volunteers, who have taken these first steps with us, committed to the mission of our organization to serve all military families with the support that is truly helpful in their individual breastfeeding journeys. But we also know that this is not enough to truly embody diversity and equity within our organization and meet the needs of our breastfeeding military families. In June of 2017, the Mom2Mom Global Board of Directors revisited our diversity work, to identify what steps we need to take to bring our vision to life. We listened to feedback from our volunteers, and from other organizations and voices within the broader lactation field, and identified these gaps:
1. Diversity Training is long, clunky, and focused on self-reflection, but does not require follow-up.
2. Diversity Training has not inspired or provided actionable instruction to Chapter leaders to increase diversity within their local Chapters.
3. Mom2Mom Global Board has not provided adequate leadership or actionable steps to support Chapters or volunteers in increasing diversity of membership or breaking down barriers to equity in support.
4. Chapter leadership racial demographics do not match the diversity of the military forces:
Mom2Mom Global Leadership demographics, 2017 Military demographics, 2015
White (76%) White 71%
Black (12%) Black 17%
Asian and Pacific Islander (.02%) Asian and Pacific Islander 5%
Hispanic (.06%) Hispanic Not Tracked
Native American/Alaskan 0 Native American/Alaskan 1%
Other/undisclosed (.03%) Other/unknown 3.8%
Multiracial not tracked Multiracial 2.5%
Total number: 66 Total number: 3.5 million+
After examining these gaps, we have begun to formulate our 2017 Diversity Goals
1. Increase leadership racial demographics to have equal or greater diversity than the military demographics.
2. Revise and streamline Diversity Training to focus on actionable steps that volunteers, particularly Chapter Leadership, can take to identify barriers and increase diversity and equity within their military communities.*
3. Create a safe space to facilitate inter-Chapter discussions and sharing about diversity and equity work within our communities, our Chapters, and ourselves. Encourage and support the difficult work of increasing awareness and taking mindful steps to increase diversity and equity in access to support for all breastfeeding military families. Center this work as an integral part of all we do to carry out our mission, rather than an “add-on” or afterthought. Photos courtesy of Mom2Mom San Diego
4. Allocate scholarship funds to pay 50% of tuition for Global and Chapter Leaders to obtain required LEAARC-approved lactation credentials, as a deliberate effort to increase the diversity of trained lactation professionals within each cultural community. These scholarships will be awarded based on demonstrated financial need, gaps in representation of lactation supporters, AND to fill representation gaps in the leadership of our Chapters (ex. People of color, LGBTQ people, people of service branches under-represented, etc).
*Action Steps for Chapters: Mom2Mom Global at USBC 2017
Implement tracking tools for demographic data.
Monthly Chapter discussions, and designated safe space for Chapters to share successful strategies, voice challenges and concerns, and request help from each other.
Deliberately share social media content that represents traditionally under-represented cultural groups, increasing visibility.
Acknowledge and celebrate cultural heritage awareness dates and months, such as Black Breastfeeding Week, Hispanic Heritage Month, Native American Heritage Month, Black History Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and Pride Month with shared content, moderated discussions, and celebratory events within each Chapter.
Outreach to culturally-specific breastfeeding support organizations to form culturally-sensitive support similar to the support we offer to Active Duty servicemembers. Invite local lactation supporters to be guest speakers on lactation topics - not only about their cultures, but to speak on whatever topic in which they have experience and expertise - at Breastfeeding Cafes, form reciprocal referral relationships, ensure that Mom2Mom activities and events do not conflict with other local groups’ activities, etc
Outreach to faith-based organizations to learn about ways to support breastfeeding for members of diverse religious beliefs.
Outreach to local community businesses and resource organizations to build partnerships within local communities. (ex. Black hair salons, churches, restaurants or businesses owned by PoC or LGBTQ community members)
Recruit volunteers to translate social media content into multiple languages.
Increase awareness of safe recommendations for Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies (IYCFE) by distributing evidence-based content and sharing resources for families and rescue/aid workers.
Our military families represent the best of the nation, and face unique challenges to breastfeeding. We believe that each parent and family deserves culturally sensitive and welcoming support for their individual breastfeeding experience, and we reaffirm our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusivity as core values of our organization.