By Tom Gangel, Operations Manager
I am going to start by telling a story about grocery shopping in Steamboat Springs. You might ask, “what does this have to do with creating greater DEI at Mind Springs Health and in our communities at large.” Good Question. Let me attempt to explain.
When shopping at City Market in Steamboat Springs, you will often see several African or African American employees. At least relatively speaking, the percentage of black employees at City Market is much greater than anywhere else in town. Why is that?
For several years, City Market had a manager that decided it was her duty to help integrate the employees at this store. She actually started this adventure in the in City Market in Frisco prior to coming to Steamboat Springs. She systematically went about recruiting people of color to jobs in these communities. Prior to 2017, utilizing the H-2b visas (these type of visas were dramatically cut in 2017) to recruit new staff. More effectively, she mined the data on people being allowed into the United States due to political or other forms of asylum. This led her to finding not just hard working, but a very grateful workforce. Over the years, many of the employees have been torture survivors from Mauritania. Most of which spoke French as their most comfortable language, causing places like Mind Springs Health to find ways to make sure our services were welcoming and friendly to these new cultures. This manager is no longer with City Market in Steamboat, but I am sure she is fulfilling her mission somewhere else. But her legacy lives on. There remain several employees at City Market, and the neighboring Walmart store, who arrived here due to her efforts and their bravery.
This story always reminds that even in our rural areas, a focused effort on creating greater Diversity, Equity, and/or Inclusion can work even in our 90% white communities. I want to be clear that this focus does not need to be just on race. I am convinced if we, or some coalition of our partners and communities, focused on a specific area of inclusion, we could have a curve bending effect. This could be the LGBTQ+, Native American, different faiths, persons of color, or any other under-represented group.
A clear goal to find, recruit, and make welcome a chosen population to work, love, and play in our beautiful rural and resort communities could have a lasting positive impact on our communities and the richness they all have to offer.