"Diversity, equity, and inclusion at Chatham Hall looks like cross-cultural communication, the affirmation of identities, and the valuing of difference to ultimately create a strong community."
This quote is what guides Deborah Glymph, Chatham Hall’s director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, history and English teacher, and dorm advisor, in her work. Since her formal appointment to the role of director in 2020, Glymph has acted to ensure that the foundation of all diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work is built upon the community norms, as articulated by the National Diversity Practitioners Institute, of showing respect; speaking from the “I” perspective; honoring confidentiality; withholding judgement; being open-minded; challenging oneself; listening and thinking before speaking; and leaning into discomfort.
“These basic tenets for discourse at Chatham Hall help to ensure tolerance, dignity, and a shared humanity,” asserted Glymph.
After a 2019-2020 school year that included a DEI climate survey assessment, the creation of DEI ambassadors, faculty implicit bias awareness training, “food and forum” meetings on a variety of topics, and several student discussions and celebrations, Glymph and Rector Rachel Connell articulated a DEI Action Plan for the School in summer 2020. In a July 20 letter to the community they detailed more than 25 goals for the 2020-2021 school year to help Chatham Hall become a more equitable community. These goals, as well as all letters from the Rector and the Board of Trustees on topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion from summer 2020, are available at www.chathamhall.org/dei
“We’ve made some progress towards these goals already,” said Connell. “We partnered with Honor Council and Prefects and updated our handbook to include a section on our intolerance for hate speech and offensive language or behavior and consequences when it occurs. Our entire faculty read White Fragility
and worked with Trina Gary a second time on implicit bias awareness training this fall, and as a community we have read Under Pressure
and worked with author Lisa Damour to better understand the lives of and pressures on today’s teenage girls.
“Our Admissions team has participated in virtual events with the Black Parents Forum, and we are forging partnerships with the New England Minority Network, now Nemnet Minority Recruitment, and regional Historically Black Colleges and Universities for when we have openings here at Chatham Hall. Our affinity groups have already hosted campus activities to build awareness for all community members. I am confident that these and many more steps will bring us towards our goals and create a more equitable Chatham Hall.”
As the School moves forward with long-term DEI initiatives in hiring, professional development, and general campus culture and climate, community-wide outreach will take many forms. The School’s DEI Advisory Group comprised of representatives from multiple constituencies – employees, parents, and alumnae – will work hand in hand with Chatham Hall’s Administrative Leadership Team, student ambassadors, and the internal DEI Taskforce, as well as with the newly-created Board of Trustees’ DEI Committee and Alumnae Council’s DEI Committee to support an authentically diverse populace and move Chatham Hall towards becoming an actively anti-racist institution.
“For so long our society asked members of traditionally marginalized communities to assimilate into so-called majority culture,” said Connell. “Here at Chatham Hall, we are working for inclusion, not assimilation. We are interested in welcoming and celebrating all of our community members for their authentic selves. Only then will we all enjoy a truly equitable experience here.”
Originally published in the fall 2020 issue of the Chat