As the world embraces the importance of expanded diversity in not just our offices and organizations but our everyday lives, Montgomery offers a unique way to boost Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) training efforts.
Experience Montgomery, the Chamber’s tourism division, is implementing a program that provides a travel blueprint for organizations that want to enhance their training in diversity, equity and inclusion issues. “If you’re going to have the conversation, Montgomery makes the most sense,” explained Ashley Jernigan, Executive Director of Experience Montgomery. “We are the Civil Rights capital of the nation.”
While concerns about equitable opportunities for all aren’t new, intentionally building awareness around the concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion may be new to some organizations. According to Jernigan, the blueprint “will allow people who have never had diversity, equity and inclusion training an opportunity to come to Montgomery, to visit iconic civil rights attractions, learn through social justice experiences, hear from living legends of the movement and train with top DE&I professionals.”
The city, so rich in history, and specifically civil rights history, offers numerous opportunities for these types of conversations—with themes ranging from civil rights and social justice to truth and reconciliation. Notable sites include the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, the Rosa Parks Library and Museum and the Mothers of Gynecology monument, as well as the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Visitors can also make stops along the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, which commemorates the route taken in 1965 by voting rights supporters as they marched from Selma to Dexter Avenue and the Alabama State Capitol.
But how do organizations decide which sites to visit and how do they process and apply what they have learned? “The city has more attractions than people may realize,” Jernigan noted. “We want to make sure when you come here, you don’t go to one attraction and think you’ve experienced all there is to experience in Montgomery. We want to lay it out for you,” she said.
She explained the approach: “Our goal is to develop these itineraries that we can then go to every major company, every major organization and say, ‘If you are looking for diversity, equity and inclusion opportunities, come to Montgomery. Here is a curated experience that highlights every civil rights and social justice location that you can visit in Montgomery as well as people who can help you break down what it is you just experienced and talk about the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in your business or organization.’”
Jernigan added that the training support also involves “what you or your organization can do to be more culturally competent.” From there, she said, “They have the tools to have better hiring practices and develop a culture that attracts more diverse clientele and employees. This is how you begin to make true change as needed.”
This plan may have business travel groups as one of its focuses, but the itineraries are available to groups of any size or type. “That’s the joy of this,” Jernigan said. “It can be two people, it can be a hundred and two, it can be a thousand, it can be a family. Anyone can request this information.”
The blueprint is also not just for out-of-towners. “For the organizations locally looking to do more in diversity, equity and inclusion training, they can reach out to us as well. They can call the tourism department, and they can get this curated experience,” Jernigan said. “We just want to make it as simple as we can for the person, the business or the organization to get that training and that understanding.”
Jernigan added, “It is really important for people to have a well-rounded understanding of their DE&I practices within their organizations and their business and also their mindset.” Visiting key sites in Montgomery and diving into what they’ve learned can help them know how important it is to be more inclusive and more equitable in how they think and in what they do. “That is the purpose of this program,” she said.
If you are looking for diversity, equity and inclusion opportunities, come to Montgomery. Here is a curated experience that highlights every civil rights and social justice location that you can visit in Montgomery, as well as people who can help you break down what it is you just experienced and talk about the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in your business or organization.
for more information.