Trauma-Informed Organization: Where TIO and DEI Meet

Posted on May 27, 2022

Did you know that CHS not only has both a Trauma-Informed Organization (TIO) Committee and a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) group, but that these groups and practices overlap?

DEI stands for:

Diversity- the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.

Equity- the quality of being fair and impartial. Equity ensures everyone has access to the same treatment, opportunities and advancement. It also aims to identify and eliminate barriers that prevent the full participation of some groups.

Inclusion- the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or mental disabilities and members of other minority groups.

In SAMHSA’s “Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach,” from 2014, there are six key principles in a trauma-informed approach. These principles tie in with the tenets of DEI.

Six Key Principles of a Trauma-Informed Approach

  1. Safety
  2. Trustworthiness and Transparency
  3. Peer Support
  4. Collaboration and Mutuality
  5. Empowerment, Voice and Choice
  6. Cultural, Historical and Gender Issues

Safety allows employees to feel like they can be their authentic selves in the workplace. This helps staff have a genuine sense of psychological safety. When we feel psychologically safe at work, it helps with performance, open-mindedness to learning, positive attitudes, retention and so much more.

Trustworthiness and Transparency. When organizations are transparent not only with their progress and accomplishments, but also their flaws, employees are better able to trust the organization. It also communicates that the organization is serious about the work they do well, and where they may need to improve.

Peer Support. Who doesn’t like to have peer support?! When we have support from our peers it helps provide a sense of belonging, inclusion, visibility, safety, trust, shared experiences and more! Would you agree that having someone that you relate to, can share experiences with, and be your authentic self around makes you feel good? Think about how much more you enjoy your work experience when you have support from your peers. Even if it's just one.

Collaboration and Mutuality. SAMHSA talks about the importance of not only partnering but also establishing a leveling of different staff throughout an organization. There are a variety of positions that employees hold throughout CHS. But whether you are in maintenance, leadership, school, a unit, or even volunteering, we all can have a share in healing with a trauma-informed approach, regardless of a person’s background, culture, gender, economic status, ability or identity. This not only helps contribute to our “Better Together” value, but also helps us develop a culture of belonging within the workplace.

Empowerment, Voice and Choice. Within our organization we have the ability, as SAMHSA shows, to either be “facilitators of recovery or controllers of recovery.” This portion may sound like it only applies to the clients we serve, but it also applies to the employees of CHS. We could just control how our clients recover, or how employees work, but helping those we work with develop the ability to have a voice, empowerment, and choices allows us all to be able to self-advocate. When we develop the skill to advocate for ourselves, we build self-confidence. This in turn helps us all to feel more confident when we feel we may need to speak up about something, make decisions or set goals. When it comes to DEI work, there will be times when having a developed sense of empowerment, voice and choice are crucial to create a diverse and inclusive organization, where people feel heard and seen.

Cultural, Historical and Gender Issues. A trauma-informed organization works to move past stereotypes and biases that would typically hold back an organization. This means looking at areas that may not be as noticeable to the average person, such as policies. Considering the needs, concerns and history of those we serve and serve with can help us learn more about helping others feel welcome.

Workplace Challenge: Take some time this month to get to know a co-worker you may not know too well. This can be an opportunity to learn something new, step out of your comfort zone and contribute to our “Better Together” mentality.

Sioux Falls Resource: Saturday, June 11, 2022 is the Festival of Cultures from 12pm-5pm at Falls Park, 900 N. Phillips Ave., Sioux Falls, SD 57104. You can also check out the Multi-Cultural Center of Sioux Falls for more information on the festival and other programs they offer to the community.