As we sat down to write this note to the IFS community about our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) efforts, we recognized that while we have launched important projects and made progress, we also wanted to take a step back and create a statement of commitment. We wanted to be specific about our goals going forward, focus our efforts and be transparent and accountable to the community.
Our statement was developed in partnership with the DE&I Committee, which is chaired by Kate Lingren and includes Rosa Bramble, Philip Butler, Chris Burris, Ashley Curley and Katie Nelson. Dick Schwartz, Jeanne Catanzaro aided in this work as did other members of the IFSI staff. It is also informed by many of you who have reached out and shared your views on this topic with us.
IFSI’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
This is a live document and as such, it will evolve as our organization evolves.
Our goal at the IFS Institute is to create learning environments and a community that teach and support the internal welcoming of parts that have been exiled, shamed, or marginalized within our systems so that they may be seen, heard, valued, and ultimately healed. Our hope is that this work will lead to greater Self leadership where all of us are more connected, curious, and compassionate with ourselves and with each other.
We recognize that IFS was developed and is still primarily taught and managed through a white lens. This has made it difficult to create an inviting space for everyone to feel safe and welcome and to contribute fully to the evolution and growth of the community. As a result, we have not been as effective as we could be in the ongoing fight for freedom and healing for ALL peoples.
To focus our efforts and hold ourselves accountable, we have developed four specific commitments. These commitments reflect our desire for all peoples to find solace and healing from IFS, while we hold space for individual to contribute their unique gifts, voices, and perspectives to the IFS movement.
We commit to:
· Take accountability for our learning: We all have different levels of awareness, skill, and blind spots in applying the IFS method to the parts of ourselves and others that carry Legacy Burdens and otherwise acquired biased beliefs. Our learning edges manifest themselves in many ways, including in community conversations and learning programs where we have unintentionally continued to center the gender normative, white supremacist, ableist experience. We are committed to taking accountability for our learning edges so that we can hold appropriate space for the exploration of everyone’s lived experience and to repair harm when we are unable to do so.
· Expand the IFS methodology toward Legacy Burdens: Legacy Burdens include racism, patriarchy, capitalism, colonialism, homophobia, heterosexism, transphobia, ageism, ableism, anti-fat and other deep-seated biases and beliefs. These burdens work to maintain power structures within ourselves, our community, and the world. It is important for us to sit with the process of unpacking how Legacy Burdens move in and around our systems. Each of our individual and collective parts hold these Legacy Burdens differently. Learning how we hold these burdens in each of us can lead to discovering new ways that the IFS method can provide healing toward these burdens and unloading these legacies when conditions allow. We seek to support this work and further dismantle power structures that continue to perpetuate Legacy Burdens.
· Attract, retain, and welcome a more diverse community: Our organization and community do not reflect the full breadth of the communities we aim to serve. We must work to ensure that the people managing, leading, creating and delivering our programs and providing feedback to us reflect greater diversity. Diversity of thought, perspective and lived experience is not enough. It is critical for us to have diversity of embodiment, culture, and physiology for the evolution of the organization and the model.
· Provide caring for ourselves and each other: Staying true to these commitments will not be easy and will challenge our internal and collective systems. In this journey, we commit to provide care for ourselves, each other, and our community.
In addition to this statement, we also want to share with you some of what we have been doing to move forward on our commitments.
· Enhanced Conference Focus on People of Global Majority – For the first time in 30 years, we held the IFS Annual Conference virtually. This gave us the opportunity to make a strong effort to attract more session leaders from the Global Majority and devote the Thursday of the conference to “Widening the IFS Lens through the Voices of Global Majority”. This was such an important event for us, and it provided a way to uplift and spotlight new and exciting voices in the IFS community. We are so thankful to those who are contributing their voices. It was an enriching experience for all who attended.
· Greater Accessibility to the Annual Conference – As mentioned above, 2021 was the first year our conference was held virtually. This allowed us to provide more flexible pricing. We offered a Community Rate which was a 50% discount, and over 600 participants took advantage of that discount. We were also delighted that 5% of the attendees opted to pay the Supporter Rate to support our community efforts. We will be reporting on the use of those funds in a later note.
· Partnership with Black Therapists Rock (BTR) - In 2019, we launched our first Level 1 program co-sponsored by BTR and we are on the way to launching a third program in November of 2021. As part of the program, BTR members receive a 50% discount on tuition, and we also provide five full scholarships to young men. The goal of the program is to provide BTR members with affordable spaces to study IFS and to provide a safe environment for members of the Global Majority to have discussions on topics such as racial trauma and Legacy Burdens. We thank members of the BTR organization, led by Deran Young, for their support and teamwork. Our organization has learned so much and benefitted significantly from working with BTR and hosting programs together.
· Program Scholarships – To date in 2021, IFS Institute has provided over 200 scholarships to members of the Global Majority, the LGBTQ+ community and those of limited financial resources to attend our Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3 programs. We know from our communications with the recipients of these scholarships that without this support, many may not be able to participate in our programs.
· Expansion of the DE&I Committee – The DE&I Committee is chaired by Kate Lingren. Our new CEO Katie recently joined the Committee, as well as Rosa Bramble and Dr. Philip Butler. Together, the increasingly diverse team is working to define progressive goals and plans, while engaging with senior leadership and playing an active role in ensuring IFSI meets its DE&I goals.
· Accelerated Training Program – In 2020, the Institute, in partnership with Tamala Floyd, Pam Krause and Toni Herbine-Blank, launched a program to provide training to a younger, more diverse group of talented professionals to support them toward becoming IFS Trainers. Several members of this program have already moved into Assistant Trainer Mentee positions, and we are excited about the prospects for them to move into our trainer group and to have that group more accurately reflect our growing global community.
· Trainings for IFSI Staff and Trainers – At staff and trainer retreats this year, IFSI staff and trainers participated in web-based workshops that delved deeper into anti-racism as well as the characteristics of the white supremacy culture. These workshops engaged our team in meaningful dialogue around these issues and widened their lens so they can better reach and serve our existing and broader communities that we wish to serve.
We have more plans and ideas for the future, and we will share them with you as they are developed and implemented. They include continuing to provide training for our staff and trainers, continuing to provide scholarships and continuing to partner with other organizations to achieve our goals.