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Finding Belonging and Purpose at LSS: Our Commitment to DEI

Finding Belonging and Purpose at LSS: Our Commitment to DEI

Travis Scholl, Director of Mission Integration

Lutheran Senior Services (LSS) thrives by its mission to serve Older Adults Living Life to the Fullest. The LSS mission energizes our purpose: Centered in Christ, together we create places, services, and opportunities for people to age well with purpose and fulfillment. This mission and purpose are focused on the residents and clients LSS serves. But they equally apply to those who work at LSS. We seek to foster a culture where every team member may experience life lived more fully, with a sense of purpose and fulfillment, by working at LSS.

This is why LSS is committed to the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). DEI is simply a range of tools to help create places, services, and opportunities for people to experience LSS as a community of welcome and belonging, where their unique gifts and life experiences are valued in a spirit of trust, respect, and collaboration. We believe this was modeled in the life of Jesus Christ whose own ministry opened the grace and love of God to every life he touched. In His example, we seek to find ways to utilize DEI tools that can serve the heart of our mission.

But what does this look like for LSS?

As part of the strategic framework adopted in 2022, we are currently working with Nunes & Associates, led by the Rev. Dr. John A. Nunes, to complete a DEI assessment that will inform action and initiatives into the future, making the work sustainable for the long-term. This project consists of four phases:

  1. A staff survey, utilizing the benchmarked Gartner Inclusion Index.
  2. A series of interviews and focus groups to receive feedback and data relative to issues like trust, fairness, belonging, and safety. This included over 120 individual interviews and 13 focus groups. Every level of staff, across every LSS community and service line, as well as every demographic area, was well represented.
  3. The creation of a DEI philosophy unique to the LSS mission and purpose.
  4. An action plan to implement concrete, relevant changes that will help to foster a culture that brings out the best in each other.

We recognize that the work of DEI is a shared work, where every person who is connected to LSS has their voice heard. This includes both our team members and the older adults who are a part of the LSS family. As we all learn and grow together, we acknowledge that people of good will can have differing perspectives about DEI. Thus, we suggest that each emphasis enhances LSS workplace values when it is accompanied by complementary principles:

diversity and unity,

equity and empowerment,

inclusion and collaboration.

The strength of our organization comes from the diversity of perspective and lived experience of our team members and older adults, unified in our common mission. As we come together to address issues of equity, we also seek to develop strategies of empowerment so people can grow in their work and callings. While we seek to create a culture in which all persons can bring the best versions of themselves to LSS, this focus on inclusion should lead to an environment of collaboration. Together, we will create a culture united and uplifted as our shared values inspire us to work together to live life to the fullest.

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