Diversity & Inclusion

Last month the WCW Board of Directors sent members a letter referencing how we as a Club might find common ground and make a difference in response to the social issues of our time.

Since then we reached out to community leaders we know and respect. Based on their advice, we invite any interested members to join our first conversation about one of the pressing issues of today: race and racism. Our ultimate goals are to develop a more diverse and inclusive membership, to expand our already vibrant community outreach, and to be strong community allies. But first, as promised, we will seek to understand the issue.

Our Club has always been a place for learning, friendship, and service. Indeed, in 1876 our founders stated: “The object of this Club shall be primarily to elevate and purify our civilization.” It is in that spirit that we tackle the question of diversity, inclusion, race, and racism.

On August 5 we will gather over lunch and begin a guided conversation on this difficult subject. Our goal at this first meeting is to learn more from and with each other, in a guided setting with former WCW member Ginny Finn, the CEO of the YWCA of Southeastern Wisconsin (YWCASEW). For more than a decade, the YWCASEW has included “unlearning racism” as part of its mission. Several Club members have participated (or are currently participating) in that work. It is done in a kind and caring fashion, and we are very pleased that Ginny is willing to take the time to help guide us through our first meeting.

Many of us want to understand better and learn more, but we may hesitate to ask our questions. We each have our own learned experiences. Now is our opportunity to share our thoughts, in a candid way, civilly, putting politics aside, speaking from the heart, and not judging one another. Each of us is where we are. The poet Ben Okri says: “Every day is a new world.” We hope to seize this new world to join him and say: “Our future is greater than our past.”

We will take a deep breath and embark on a journey of civil and candid conversations. Bring your questions. We will write them on slips of paper and put them in a bowl. Ginny will pull them out one at a time, and we’ll talk respectfully and confidentially. In our highly politicized environment, it is important that we do not divide ourselves through these discussions. As friends we want to learn and grow together. Where we go next is up to us.