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Building a Stronger Sense of Community by Celebrating Our Differences

February 24, 2023

With businesses in the Seattle area attracting families from all over the world and the community at large becoming increasingly diverse, we recognize the importance of ensuring that Emerald Heights will attract new residents and staff members who represent a diverse range of cultures, experiences and backgrounds.

Events in recent years have opened up a greater awareness of the need for conversations about whether we’re giving enough attention to diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as if we are addressing these issues in a way that helps people be heard. We believe it’s important to have these conversations because, after all, if we aren’t talking about these topics, are we really being inclusive? 

A Commitment That Starts at the Top

To bring more focus on these topics and explore how we espouse them in our community, the board of our parent company, Emerald Communities, developed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policy statement.

The board then asked us to craft a plan for introducing the DEI policy to all residents and staff members, with the initial goal of generating more — and more effective — conversations centering on these issues.  

We began by forming a group of residents and staff members who are interested in shaping the future of Emerald Heights in a way that will allow our community to continue being a place where new people immediately feel welcome.

The Work of Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee

In the past year, our DEI committee concentrated its efforts on creating a charter that defines the committee’s purpose, structure, responsibilities and accountability. Building off of the charter we are developing a work plan with specific, actionable steps for carrying out Emerald Heights’ DEI vision.  

Now, we’re ready to explore what diversity, equity and inclusion looks like in our community. How do we represent these attributes? Are we doing a good job? When so many people tell us how welcome they feel, we believe that we are doing some things well in this regard. But can we do more? Are there areas in which we can improve?

Our hope is that the committee’s work will encourage more interest in, and greater openness to:

  • Learning about the differences among our diverse population
  • Taking steps to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and equitably
  • Finding out how we can be more inclusive as a community

Leading Our Community Into the Future

Just as the original residents shaped the personality of Emerald Heights 30 years ago, the DEI committee and the people who live and work here now have the opportunity to work together to shape the direction in which our community evolves.

“While this happens every day on different levels — for example, our resident council working with management, and our resident committees working with department directors on various activities — I really think that when you talk about the future and defining who we are culturally, this is one of the bigger efforts that has occurred, at least in the seven years I’ve been here, and that’s exciting,” said Grant Linacre, the executive director of Emerald Heights.

Grant said the committee is aiming to finalize by May, if not sooner, a schedule of monthly events that focus on the theme of welcoming, with the goal of holding the first event in June. The intent is to celebrate the positive things we are doing with respect to DEI and grow the focus.

“In recognizing what we’re doing well, we may discover more opportunities to celebrate, more specifically, our differences, our diversity and our inclusion. We will also find opportunities for improvement,” he said.

“For instance, we want people to know that diversity is not just about the color of our skin, but also other backgrounds. It starts with increasing awareness and having the conversation.”

Would You Like to Join the Conversation?

If you are interested in learning more about how we’re approaching diversity, equity and inclusion at Emerald Heights, or if you’d like to experience our welcoming community firsthand, we invite you to contact us so we can set the wheels in motion.

Featured Image: Jake Johnson Photography