One year ago this week, Missouri Botanical Garden President Dr. Peter Wyse Jackson shared the commitment of the Garden to create an inclusive and welcoming community within the Garden and the communities we serve and work in in order to further the mission of the Garden, “to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life”.
At that time, the Garden pledged to:
- Hire a senior-level Diversity and Inclusion leader for the Garden, reporting to the President, to guide strategic work in this area.
- Establish standards, policies, and programs that make our commitment to diversity and inclusion clear to both our Garden family and our visitors.
- Engage our staff, our colleagues, and experts to have a critical discourse that will both propel us forward and keep us on track.
- Reexamine our history as a Garden.
- Work locally, nationally, and internationally to share best practices and research approaches.
- Report regularly to detail progress and work still to be done.
In that spirit, I would like to introduce myself, Amanda Shields, as the Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging for the Garden. I came on board at the end of February 2021 as a result of the commitments above that were communicated in June of last year. I have had the opportunity to spend the past few months working across the Garden to understand and analyze the opportunities we have to foster the inclusive community that we envision.
It’s very appropriate that the anniversary of these commitments around inclusion at the Garden falls in June—when we are commemorating both Pride Month and Juneteenth. When I think about both of these observances, there is a strong root in both the symbolism of celebrating progress as well as in the renewing of commitments to actions. Some of the actions that we have taken already or plan to take in the near term are:
- Fostering internal conversations to create a culture of inclusion and an environment of belonging within our workforce.
- Continuing to mature our narratives of how we think about and discuss the Garden’s history and inclusive topics.
- Developing goals for the next year to further our journey around our partnerships and community programming that brings the knowledge, exploration, and beauty of the Garden to a broad range of demographics.
We will continue to solidify our strategies and actions as we move throughout the remainder of the year, and importantly, will align them into every aspect of our strategy and operations as we look longer term. We will continue to keep you updated on important milestones as we continue through this journey on our website and social media channels.
On behalf of the Garden, we hope that you continue to join us in being a Garden for all!
Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging