The Oak Brook Park District is honored to have received the Commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Award at this year’s Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony. The Commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Award recognizes a Chamber organization that best exemplifies awareness and best practices in creating an inclusive organization.
Through the development of short and long-term goals, Oak Brook Park District staff strives to develop their offerings while looking through the “DEI” lens. Most importantly, staff aims to ensure all residents, members, and guests of the Park District feel safe, heard, and included. The District’s internal DEI Team, made up of five staff members, is committed to bringing DEI to the District in communications, policies and opportunities while keeping accurate representation of the Oak Brook community at the forefront. The team aims to be DEI advocates across the District, and to assist in the development of skills in which staff can communicate DEI awareness and education in a professional, thoughtful manner.
The Oak Brook Park District implemented several DEI initiatives this past year, continuing the work the District was awarded for in January of 2022, when they received the “Champions for Change Award” at the Annual IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Conference. In 2022 the Oak Brook Park District internal DEI Team planned an inclusive Job Fair, where bilingual staff was ready and available to interview patrons on the spot, at different times of the day, in order to accommodate people’s schedules.
Additionally, the District streamlined their new hire process to be more inclusive by:
- Blind-reviewing (cover name, address, and age) resumes, to limit the chance of implicit bias being a factor in the review process.
- Removed “relationship” from the emergency contact form, because this puts pressure on LGBTQ+ folk to possibly “out” themselves on their first day of work.
- All employees now receive an internal monthly e-newsletter, which includes updates from our Safety Committee, Sustainability Team, Health & Wellness Team, and DEI Team. Staff also receives internal e-blasts regarding “team events” such as DEI trainings which have included: “Safe Zone Conversations” hosted by the Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA) on Latin X, Racism, and LGBTQ+ topics. The DEI Team has also hosted a “DEI 101 Lunch and Learn” for staff to learn about gender identity, sexual orientation, and pronouns. At times, the District has also sent out informational e-blasts about nationally recognized remembrance days, such as Juneteenth.
- Lastly, several of our bilingual staff have worked together to translate the personnel policy manual from English to Spanish and added translation capabilities to our staff intranet. Staff also translates policy updates and other announcements from English to Spanish at our all-staff monthly staff meetings.
In addition to internal initiatives, the Park District has implemented several changes to programming and special events as well. Throughout several conversations regarding gender, the DEI Team has committed to making program registration more inclusive by including male, female, non-binary, and transgender on the annual Pink 5k sign-up form. Staff also added their preferred pronouns to their email signatures. Programming has also been changed in order to be more inclusive of gender, and family types:
- Fairytales and Superhero’s event instead of a Daddy/Daughter. This event will be Inclusive of all genders and families.
- Preschool events: Donuts with Grownups/Kids with Cupcakes instead of mom’s and muffins or dad’s and donuts.
- Food Allergy/Sensitivity: Friendly candy for pumpkin swim and Egg Hunt (Peanut free). Providing options for dietary restrictions during internal staff celebration parties. (Fruit in case a staff member can’t have cake, dairy free, gluten free, vegetarian, etc.)
In regards to facilities and amenities, the District has shown its commitment to equity when it came to constructing our Inclusive Family Locker rooms in 2017, and the completely ADA accessible Universal Playground in 2019. Park District staff also added a wagon with a lift at the annual Halloween Trick or Treat Trail in October 2021, for those that might need it to be wheelchair accessible. Lastly, the District took their commitment to inclusivity to the next level, when we created the ADA accessible Winter Lights at Central Park in 2020.
During the holiday season, the Park District wanted to make a point to include underrepresented groups who may not be able to attend a similar event. For this reason, the Oak Brook Park District provided the Winter Lights at Central Park at no charge to the community. Visited by over 40,000+ participants, this illumination brought people together during challenging times for families and communities. Varying towns and villages of DuPage and Cook County were able to have the same experience regardless of their socioeconomic status.
Executive Director Laure Kosey said, “I couldn’t be prouder of our staff’s commitment to inclusion. Diversity, equity, and inclusion, starts with the internal culture of the agency, and works its way throughout the community. We are always asking, ‘is this inclusive’ in all that we do. This is a team effort and I look forward to what the future holds.”
Questions? Please contact Marketing & Communications Manager Haley Colucci, at (630) 740-7936.
Photo Credit: Laura Meyer Photography