5 Ways to Celebrate VU-lentine’s Day

Nope, that’s not a typo. You can still pop the champagne and eat all the truffles in the box. We’re just so happy that the recording of Vu Le’s keynote from the Fall Conference for Animal Welfare is available now through April 30. So psyched, in fact, we decided this occasion needed its own holiday. You can access and listen to the complete recording of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Hiring Philosophy and Practices anytime 24/7. In the meantime, here are some ideas from Vu to get us in animal welfare re-thinking our outdated HR policies and finding ways to put fair and inclusive ones in their place.

Feel Really Awkward (and Brush Your Teeth)

As we dig into current hiring practices through a DEI lens, we’re not going to like what we see: Policies that discriminate against multiple groups of people, policies driven by the white professional set of standards. This can be hard to address, says Vu, “because we weren’t taught how to talk about this, about equity, race, neurodiversity. And that means we’re not going to be perfect at it.”  

To better understand that many of us are carrying biases we may not realize—and that being an anti-racist takes practice—Vu uses the analogy of dental hygiene. “It’s like looking in the mirror every day to brush and floss,” he says. “And some days someone might say, ‘’You’ve got some racism stuck in your teeth.’ But we’re all going to get stuff stuck in our teeth all the time—and that is how we will get to the minty fresh breath of social justice.”

Talk About Money (Education? Meh.)

Vu notes that many nonprofits do not disclose salary range when hiring. Unfortunately, doing this only serves to increase gender and racial wage gaps. (Read more about that here.) As for what to talk less about: Why automatically require a 4-year college degree? This standard practice really limits your hiring pool and you lose your chance at finding great candidates. Unless it’s for a specialized position, Vu recommends ditching this requirement.

Don’t Go For a Ride

Requiring a valid driver’s license is also baked into many job descriptions. Vu simply asks, “Why?” Unless the position requires driving, this requirement only “tells our colleagues who are disabled or who don’t have the means to buy a car that they are not good enough for us.”

Image from bandofcats.com

Give Introverts a Break

Most interviews, says Vu, are geared toward extroverts, those who are able to immediately think on their feet. Introverts need time for careful reflection and processing—and don’t we need people with these skills in our orgs, too?! Vu offers a radical suggestion—why not send folks the interview questions we’re going to ask in advance?

Act Like You Care

Vu has been writing about the importance of self-care in the nonprofit sector for years. In his December keynote he offered a twist in perspective. “Self-care has become one more thing for folks to worry about,” he says. “You have to worry about yoga and planning a vacation you might not be able to afford. But what if we start thinking about one another, about paying people equitably, and ensuring that when people are in our organizations that there is no set of unwritten rules of whiteness that they have to follow in order to feel like they belong?” What if we move away from self-care to we-care?

Note: Snuggling piglets offset by a heart-shaped frame? Kissing prairie dogs?! No gratuitous cuteness here! We’re just totally copying Vu, who has been known to include images of baby animals during his presentations as a way “to help us get through difficult conversations.” 

For additional inspiration and tips, dig into The Association’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Resources & Training Package.


The Association

The Association is the only international society of leaders actively leading and managing community animal shelters/animal control agencies.


'5 Ways to Celebrate VU-lentine’s Day' has 1 comment

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    February 18, 2021 @ 10:17 am Megan D

    I love the idea of sending interview questions prior to the meeting!! I’m definitely going to start doing this. I also agree that requiring a 4 year degree for positions in administrative and operational non-profit work is a gatekeepers move. Thanks so much for posting this!


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