WOC’s Soul Work: Creating the Inclusive WOC*

Plan to incorporate anti-racism, anti-oppression, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the Women’s Ordination Conference

Written by Aisha S. Taylor, approved by WOC’s Board of Directors February 2006 unless otherwise noted

VISION

In order to bring about women’s ordination into an inclusive and accountable Roman Catholic Church, the Women’s Ordination Conference works to create an anti-racist, diverse and inclusive movement. 

STRATEGY

In order to transform Women’s Ordination Conference into an authentic anti-racist, diverse and inclusive movement for reform and justice, WOC’s Board of Directors and staff will participate in anti-racism training. WOC will also gather a team of committed individuals to lead WOC toward development and implementation of vision, strategies, systems and tasks to dismantle institutional racism within WOC’s structure and within our church community.

The following sets forth a plan of action to fulfill the previously stated vision and strategy, which fulfils our mission.

WOC’ s Institutional Commitment

The Board of Directors shall become the primary owner and defender of WOC’s anti-racism vision and strategy.

  • Board to modify and approve Vision and Strategy, above, to provide clear direction for WOC (modified and approved November 2005)
  • Board and staff to participate in two one-day trainings on anti-racism, during Spring 2006 and Winter 2007 Board meetings
    • Agree on definitions of terms for anti-racism work, such as racism, white supremacy, white privilege, etc, and a common analysis of racism
    • Develop awareness of racism and white privilege within ourselves, WOC, and society
    • Develop institutional commitment to anti-racism work
  • Board to initiate anti-racism team composed of Catholics committed to anti-racism work in 2007 contingent upon funding. Recommended: team of 6-7 people, including two or three Board members. Board and staff activate and utilize expertise of National Advisory Board

In order to support the change process, we will take a phased approach. This will provide us with a clear strategy and allow us to monitor our progress. The phases below enable the Board and Staff to gather a team of committed individuals while simultaneously developing our understanding of what it means to be an anti-racist, diverse and inclusive institution.

  • Phase 1: What we want to do – Planning and Design
  • Phase 2: How we do it – Analysis and Strategy Development
  • Phase 3: Include others – Educate WOC Community for Buy-In
  • Phase 4: Try it Out – Pilot, Evaluate and Revise Strategy
  • Phase 5: Go for it! – Implement Strategy and Continue Renewal

PLAN of ACTION  

Phase 1: What we want to do – Planning and Design

  • Staff to request input from Advisory Board and Board of Directors about Vision and Strategy, then gain Board approval for both
  • Staff and Board to participate in two one-day anti-racism trainings
  • Staff to recruit and select anti-racism team
  • Staff and Board commit to seek out and secure funding for team formation process
  • Board to release public statement commissioning work of team
  • Board and staff to publicly commission team at major WOC event

Phase 2: How we do it – Analysis and Strategy Development

  • Board develops understanding of racism on personal, group and cultural level
  • Team agrees on definitions of terms that relate to anti-racism work
  • Team to review and modify Board Vision
  • Team to begin to create power analysis of racism within WOC
  • Team to develop Strategic Plan to implement Vision

Phase 3: Include others – Educate WOC Community for Buy-In

  • Educate wider WOC community on Vision and Strategic Plan to get buy-in from stakeholders within WOC
  • Align the Vision and Strategy by creating systems that will carry out Strategy, which is based on the vision

Phase 4: Try it Out – Pilot, Evaluate and Revise Strategy

  • Pilot the Strategy to test the assumptions behind its formation
  • Listen to feedback from participants and evaluate the Strategy
  • Adjust and improve the Strategy and systems according to feedback from WOC members who participated in the pilot

Phase 5: Go for it! – Implement Strategy and Continue Renewal

  • Implement revised Strategy with revised systems
  • Evaluate results
  • In the spirit of continuous improvement and renewal, this will be a cyclical process. Use results of the evaluation to take Vision to the next level by returning to Phase 1 to re-evaluate and revise Vision, perhaps taking a deeper commitment to anti-racism, or changing focus to include class, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, etc.

CONTENT – What will happen?

WOC’s Board and Staff two one-day trainings — Overview:

  • Agree on definitions of terms for anti-racism work, such as racism, white supremacy, white privilege, etc., and a common analysis of racism
  • Develop awareness of racism and white privilege within ourselves, WOC, and society
  • Develop institutional commitment to anti-racism work
  • Board of Directors should become the primary owner and defender of the anti-racist, anti-oppression vision and strategy.

WOC’s Anti-Racism Team — Overview:

  • Agree on definitions of terms for anti-racism work, such as racism, white supremacy, white privilege, etc., and a common analysis of racism
  • Create 20-year Vision Statement
  • Develop a power analysis of systemic and all forms of racism in WOC and provide recommendations according to the power analysis matrices
  • Develop strategy, systems and tasks for WOC’s anti-racism work:
    •  
      1. Identify stakeholders in the organization (Local Leaders, Large Donors, active members)
      2. Conduct stakeholders analysis and create a plan to reach out to stakeholders
      3. Combine above input into strategic plan with timeline, including power analysis and recommendations
      4. Submit and present strategic plan for Board approval
      5. Board to combine anti-racism strategic plan into WOC strategic plan

WOC’s Anti-Racism Team may suggest the following actions:

 1. Internal WOC Organizational Development

  • Implement hiring process with application criteria and interview questions to determine degree of commitment to and experience with anti-racism
  • Create a process for exit interviews (Board and staff) to find out view of racism, privilege and/or oppression they experienced or saw at WOC
  • Survey WOC members for demographics on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, economic status, ability and thoughts on church reform issues, including their priorities of anti-racism and anti-oppression

2. Church Reform Movement Partnerships  

  • Collaborate with reform groups interested and engaged in anti-racism work
    • Co-sponsor anti-racism trainings with CTA
  • Bring up and engage issues of anti-racism at COR meetings and large reform conferences

3. Catholic Church Community

  • Identify and build relationships with other predominantly white Catholic organizations and communities doing anti-racism work: NETWORK, Pax Christi, many communities of women religious
  • Build relationships with and develop clear lines of accountability to people in organizations specifically for Catholics of color, like National Black Sisters Conference, National Black Catholic Congress, National Hispanic Theologians, Kateri Tekakwitha Conference, and more
  • Identify and build relationships with parishioners in Catholic churches that are predominantly people of color and open to church reform, especially in places like Baltimore, Louisiana, New Mexico and Arizona

4. Society

  • Expand view of diversity to include other socially oppressed groups, such as disabled, elderly, children, people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender
  • Understand racism is a barrier to effective diversity
  • Commit to struggle to dismantle racism in the wider community

NOTE: Once the anti-racism strategic plan with suggested actions is approved, it shall be included in WOC’s overall Strategic Plan to ensure that anti-racism and anti-oppression are an integral part of WOC, not a separate issue on which WOC works.

* Inspired by M. Carmen Lane’s article “Creating the Inclusive WOC” published in the spring 2002 issue of NewWomen, NewChurch.