July 3, 2024

At Community Housing Partners (CHP), diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) aren’t just buzzwords; they’re baked into the organization’s operations and practices. From hiring processes to community engagement initiatives, CHP strives to create an environment where everyone feels valued and respected.

One way CHP prioritizes DE&I is through the annual resident surveying process. TyJuan Moulden, CHP’s Business Intelligence Specialist, explained, “By actively seeking feedback from our residents, we ensure that their voices are heard and their needs are addressed. This not only helps us improve our services but also promotes equity by giving everyone a platform to share their experiences.”

When it comes to welcoming new team members, CHP goes beyond the basics. Ethan Heslep, Director of Utilities for CHP Energy Solutions, emphasized the importance of in-person new hire orientation sessions, saying, “I believe it has significantly improved our ability to provide a warm welcome to new hires and effectively communicate CHP’s deep connection to the local community wherever we operate. It shows how all of our departments work in sync with one another to accomplish a greater goal of serving our clients and residents.”

Recognizing the impact of unconscious bias in hiring decisions, CHP has implemented required multi-person interview panels. Lateffa Smith, CHP’s Recruiting Coordinator, shared, “By involving multiple perspectives in the hiring process, we can mitigate bias and ensure that our selection criteria are fair and inclusive. It’s a proactive step towards building a more diverse and representative workforce.”

CHP’s commitment to DE&I extends beyond internal practices to community partnerships. Through a collaboration with Entryway, a 501(c)3 organization that transitions individuals and families at risk of or experiencing homelessness to economic self-sufficiency by providing career training, full-time employment, and housing opportunities, CHP is working to provide jobs and housing for housing insecure individuals. Marcheta Turner, CHP’s Recruiting Manager and Co-Chair of the Equity and Inclusion Team, explained, “This initiative not only addresses housing insecurity but also promotes equity by offering opportunities for marginalized individuals to rebuild their lives and contribute to their communities.”

new employees and facilitators in the CHP corporate office for new hire orientationIn the pursuit of building a culture of learning and growth, CHP has also established the CHP Book Club, which regularly sponsors reading around diversity and inclusion books for employees. Cyndi Hagan, CHP’s Assistant Controller and long-standing member of the book club, highlighted the importance of this initiative, “Through thoughtful discussions and shared learning experiences, the book club deepens our understanding of DE&I issues and empowers us to enact positive change both within our organization and in our personal lives.”

In addition to the initiatives highlighted, CHP has spearheaded numerous other efforts to create an inclusive environment, including partnering with Virginia Tech to conduct an annual DE&I survey and implementing anonymous feedback channels to ensure every employee’s voice is heard. CHP also requires that all employees attend unconscious bias training.

Established in 2015, the company-wide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Team is dedicated to helping CHP create an environment with a shared understanding of systemic injustices, raising awareness of implicit and explicit bias, and developing an organizational framework for advancing equity and inclusion. They hold CHP accountable for being a strong and effective partner to marginalized communities and individuals confronting injustices.

CHP leaders explained that they are working to ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion are fundamental principles guiding the organization, not just one-time initiatives. The organization is currently updating its three-year strategic plan, expected to roll out in 2025, and commits to keeping equity and inclusion front and center during that process.