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Statement on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

“The time is always right to do the right thing…”
- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The tragic murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 sparked global and national outrage leading to vigorous conversations across Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County (CCE-Tompkins) and other organizations on issues of structural racism and the attendant evils of racial injustice and violence. These conversations focused on the urgent need to address systemic racism by enacting actionable antiracist policies and programs at all levels of the organization.

If CCE-Tompkins is to fulfill its mission to “... enable people to improve their lives and communities through partnerships that put experience and research knowledge to work,” NOW is the time to put energy, resources and wholehearted commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

At different small group meetings, a diverse group of CCE-Tompkins staff, Board members and community stakeholders have shared ideas on what should be done to make the agency a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. These ideas have been collated and are being woven into the Strategic Plan that will guide the agency for the next five years.

In clear terms:

  • Diversity at CCE-Tompkins will mean a community where individuals from diverse backgrounds and life experiences can contribute and thrive.
  • According to Global Diversity Practice, diversity is "about empowering people by respecting and appreciating what makes them different, in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and national origins."
  • An equitable CCE-Tompkins will mean a community/ workplace where there’s fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people. One’s identity cannot determine the outcome. In this regard, being an anti-racist organization with a clear understanding of what that means in practical terms is vital. At CCE-Tompkins, we will pursue research-based best practices to enact anti-racist policies and put in benchmarking tools to track our performance.
  • Belonging and Inclusion at CCE-Tompkins will mean the feeling that as an employee, the authentic self is welcomed and celebrated so that one can thrive.  It means feeling that people can take their masks off, be themselves, and feel comfortable contributing.
  • An antiracist, according to Ibram X. Kendi, means “One who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing an antiracist idea.” An Anti-racist CCE-Tompkins therefore will be an organization that expresses anti-racist ideas or supports anti-racist policies through actions.

It follows that for CCE-Tompkins, a meaningful pursuit of Equity will necessitate putting in place policies and measurable outcomes designed to promote fairness and inclusive values for all members of the organization, and more specifically, to increase opportunities for underrepresented and underserved groups.

This is in line with the stance of former CCE (Cornell Cooperative Extension) director Chris Watkins who released this statement following the guilty verdict given to police officer Derek Chauvin for the unlawful and tragic murder of Mr.Floyd.

Last updated April 4, 2024