beyond diversity confronting organizational racism in human service organizations
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Beyond Diversity: Confronting Organizational Racism in Human Service Organizations. Hillel Hirshbein, LMSW, MPH Chief of Staff JBFCS March 13, 2008. Overview. JBFCS – History, Services and Demographics Definitions and assumptions One Agency’s Journey Transferrable concepts. JBFCS History.

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beyond diversity confronting organizational racism in human service organizations

Beyond Diversity:Confronting Organizational Racism in Human Service Organizations

Hillel Hirshbein, LMSW, MPH

Chief of Staff


March 13, 2008

  • JBFCS – History, Services and Demographics
  • Definitions and assumptions
  • One Agency’s Journey
  • Transferrable concepts
jbfcs history
JBFCS History

1874 United Hebrew Charities 

1946 Jewish Family Services

1893 Prisoner’s Aid Society 

 1921 Jewish Board of Guardians

jbfcs mission
JBFCS Mission

The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services provides a comprehensive network of mental health and social services which promotes well-being, resilience and self-sufficiency for individuals and families at every stage of life. Leaders in the field of human services, we proudly serve people of all faiths, races and cultures.

Compassionate Care.

Professional Excellence.

For All New Yorkers.

jbfcs services
JBFCS Services
  • Gateway Services
    • Outpatient Counseling
    • Jewish Community Services
    • Volunteer Services
    • Center for Child Development and Learning
    • Martha K Selig Educational Institute
    • Preventive Services
  • Intensive Services
    • Children’s Residential and Day Treatment Services
    • Adults with Mental Illness
    • Domestic Violence shelters and services
    • Mishkon – Day and Residential services for Developmentally Disabled members of the Orthodox Community
    • Day Treatment
client demographics
Client Demographics
  • ~50,000 New Yorkers per year
  • ~46,000 supported through “gateway services” each year
  • ~4,000 served via “intensive services” each year
  • ~1000 beds filled 24/7/365
  • Of clients whose demographic information is collected:
    • 44% “Caucasian”
    • 37% Jewish
    • 21% “African American”
    • 25% “Hispanic”
some assumptions
Some Assumptions
  • One important perspective on the development of the United States of America is that the USA is a race-constructed society
  • Race is a socio-political construct (not biological)
  • People who are statused as white have privileges - access to opportunity and resources because they are white
  • People of color are not privileged – do not have the same access to opportunity and resources – and are disadvantaged as a group
  • It is important to assess and understand the power relationships related to race in understanding and dismantling systemic racism.
jbfcs approach to issues of race
JBFCS Approach to Issues of Race

Developmental Process

  • Color-Blind approach
  • Diversity model
  • Multicultural model
  • Anti-racist model
  • Confronting Organizational Racism
jbfcs in the 1980 s
JBFCS in the 1980’s
  • Equal Opportunity Employer


  • Almost all clinical staff and management staff were white
  • “Color blind” approach to
    • Programming
    • Clinical practice
    • Policies
    • Procedures
1991 commitment to diversity
1991 – Commitment to Diversity
  • Task force convened to:
    • Examine how the cultural competence of JBFCS clinical practice could be improved
    • Develop recommendations for increasing the diversity of JBFCS staff
  • Achievements:
    • Increased representation of staff of color at entry levels of the Agency
    • Programs needed to reflect the faces of the communities they serve
    • “Ethnographic” approach to cultural competence was well established
    • Limitation – focus on numbers as ends, rather than measures of progress.
1997 multiculturalism at jbfcs
1997 – Multiculturalism at JBFCS

Multiculturalism - The view that the various cultures in a society merit equal respect (and scholarly interest).

. (n.d.). The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Retrieved March 11, 2008, from website:

  • Mental health theories were derived from eurocentric perspective
  • Critical analysis of clinical theories that are the basis of practice
  • Increased understanding that culturally-derived biases can be source of poor service
2003 introduction of anti racism
2003 – Introduction of anti-Racism

Anti-racism includes beliefs, actions, movements, and policies adopted or developed to oppose racism. In general, anti-racism is intended to promote an egalitarian society in which people do not face discrimination on the basis of their race, however defined. By its nature, anti-racism tends to promote the view that racism in a particular society is both pernicious and socially pervasive, and that particular changes in political, economic, and/or social life are required to eliminate it.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved March 11, 2008, from website:

anti racism cont d
Anti-racism (cont’d)
  • Key concepts derived from anti-racist framework:
    • The ability of administrators and clinicians to understand the dynamics of power and privilege related to race is critical to effective management and clinical practice.
    • Power and privilege related to race, and the ways in which these constructs are manifest in organizational structure need explicit attention in the workplace.
2007 anti racism in context confronting organizational racism
2007 – anti-Racism in context –Confronting Organizational Racism
  • Educational process
    • Training from PISAB, Nancy and AJ Franklin, and Kenneth Hardy,
    • Now taking more focused approach to how anti-racist theory fits within context and mission of JBFCS
    • Focus on service to clients
      • Treatment models
    • Focus on environment for staff
      • Expand circle of influence and opportunity
      • Practice discussing race in the workplace
      • Bring diverse voices to decision-making tables by increasing presence of managers with diverse backgrounds in a meaningful way.
possible connections
Possible connections

How do Israeli organizations address dynamics between:

Jews and Arabs

Askenazim and Sephardim

Haredi and secular Israelis

If goal is to serve all, then voices of all must be heard

“Racial segregation like all other forms of cruelty and tyranny, debases all human beings – those who are its victims, those who victimize, and in quite subtle ways, those who are its accessories.”

Dr. Kenneth B. Clark