Government Spotlight

DEI Committee works on definitions

|Debra Smith|

At its May 5 meeting, the Ad Hoc Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Committee worked on defining each of the terms: diversity, equity and inclusion; discussed developing a vision statement for the committee; and possible lenses for looking at policies. They plan to try out analyzing a couple of policies for homework.

Chair Julie Tajonara began the meeting with remarks that suggested that she was expecting conflict, but that didn’t happen. Instead, each member shared definitions for each term that they had researched, several relying on dictionaries. Cam Dufty, Greta Atchinson and Joanna Caouette had also looked at the DEI statements, definitions and other documents from several communities around the state, pin-pointing Orono and Lewiston’s information as particularly useful for New Gloucester.

Discussion followed about how each member interpreted what they had read and heard. It was evident in the comments and questions that some members had not considered, for example, the difference between “equity” and “equality” before; the former considering starting points and ways to provide opportunities for all to participate, vs expecting equal outcomes, such as in a Little League end-of-season celebration in which all children got trophies.  An equity example describing a well-known graphic was helpful.


Another question: How do diversity and inclusion go together? Doesn’t including one means excluding another? Others countered with “everyone is welcome.”

Caouette noted that “diversity and equity have a path to each other… It‘s giving what’s necessary to a person who needs it.” She offered an example in relation to the current EMT billing policy.  Pay for the time of EMT’s return from the hospital is not covered. It would be fair (equal) to charge all users of their service the same amount ($200), but this is not equitable for those with limited income.”

Peter Bragdon, select board liaison, suggested defining two or three key words or phrases for each term.  

• variety
• innate differences
• different ideas, perspectives and values
• spectrum of experiences and differences
• being aware of the differences that exist

• just
• fair- removing barriers to equal opportunity
• equal, impartial in law

• Everyone is welcome
• an environment in which an individual or group would be included, welcomed and respected

Lenses for looking at policies
Cam Dufty and Adam Lee had drafted two different approaches to looking at policies. Lee’s, in the form of questions such as “Does this policy prevent diversity from developing on the community?” Dufty’s included four pillars specific to policy content: language, qualifications, interpretations, and impact.

The group decided to look at some existing policies, using these two draft approaches: the EMT billing policy, which Joanna Couette had used as an example earlier, and the Covid 19 policy.

They’ll bring these back to their next meeting. They’ll also think about a draft DEI statement.

Meeting dates, all at 6:30 in the Meetinghouse
• May 24
• June 9
• June 23
• July 28