Discovering the meaning of equity, diversity, and inclusion at the Environmental Health Department of Vancouver Coastal Health
Abstract Framed through a system-thinking lens of transformational change, this action-oriented inquiry presented an opportunity to explore the diverse background and perspectives of many frontline Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCH) Environmental Health officers (EHOs) to determine the importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) to them. Applying the 5-D model of the Appreciative Inquiry, the EHOs of VCH were engaged to learn what the topic of EDI means to them, both individually and for the organization. This inquiry involved two methods - a survey, and two focus groups. The survey was conducted with all EHOs working in the Richmond to Garibaldi Coast area, followed by two focus group sessions with participants from the same population. These officers shared stories of success and their future vision of EDI in the Environmental Health Department while describing barriers and the needed resources. The thematic analysis of the data found that various opportunities exist for EH leadership to enhance the organization's culture and psychological safety at all levels. This inquiry revealed that success is achieved through collaboration towards a shared vision, EDI has differing interpretations, procedures need to be more consistent, and a change in culture and behaviour is required for a safe and equitable work environment. Six recommendations emerged from these findings providing specific calls to action. This inquiry recommends continuing this study using an Appreciative Inquiry approach to understand EDI in all Health Protection departments, implementing clear benchmarks for promotions and new hires, and developing actionable metrics to transform the current culture. Keywords: action research; equity; diversity; inclusion; organizational culture; change; engagement; Environmental Health; VCH.