Core Value: Accessibility

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One of the unique elements of Indy Hall is that anybody who can work from anywhere can become a member of this community. You don’t even need to physically be here to be a part of it. A key element here is self-selection.

It’s pretty remarkable, really. Indy Hall is one of the few places in the world where every single person in the room is there because they chose to be.

An environment composed of willing, self-selected participants is a remarkably positive and productive place to work, as you’ll find out talking to anybody who works or hangs out here. I think that many people who cite unusual productivity levels from working at Indy Hall are actually feeling the benefits of choosing for themselves where to work for the day and being surrounded by others who choose where they work for the day.

Throughout our history, we’ve had many people surprise us. Maybe their experience level seemed lower than average. Maybe their social skills needed a little work. Maybe they were shyer. Maybe they were boisterous. Maybe they were snarky. Maybe they were know-it alls.

In time, most of those attributes vanished. They started to be themselves, instead of the person they thought they had to be. And in the best cases, they improved themselves over time.

Indy Hall, as a melting pot, encourages people to be the best version of themselves.

Our Commitment to Accessibility & Diversity

As of early 2018:

  • While our total membership being nearly 50% women, only 20% of our full time membership is female.
  • In spite of Philadelphia being a dominantly non-white population, Indy Hall very poorly represents the ethnic diversity of our city.
  • Our average age has trended up as our community has both grown up together and grown overall, but we average in our mid-to-late 30’s.

And that’s also just a few of the more visible parts of anyone’s identity. We know from experience that every single member of our community has more to them than is obvious on first glance and there is so much to an individual’s identity that isn’t obvious at first.

But we recognize that it’s both possible and easy to walk into Indy Hall and see a room of people who don’t look like you.

And depending on your past experiences wonder…”do I belong here? Will I be celebrated, understood, and respected?

So what can we do to help someone be certain that this is a place where they will be celebrated, understood, and respected, too? And what should we do when the opposite is true, in spite of our best intentions?

Indy Hall champion, member, and super-connector Neil Bardhan shared this quote from a speech by a newly installed dean at Rochester University. Emphasis mine:

“I want [every student] to feel that they’re part of a community—one community—that not only respects but embraces difference in all its guises: racial, ethnic, sexual, gender, ability, and socioeconomic—and all the amazing intersections that make up our Rochester community.

We typically talk about this in terms of diversity and inclusion, diversity of background, diversity of opinions, and everyone feeling that they’re included. However, I’m starting to prefer the language of “belonging.” This institution belongs to all of us. If you’re here, you belong here. This is YOUR institution. This is subtly different from inclusion, which still implies that something from the outside is in some sense inserted, or added, to something that already exists.

Belonging means that someone here is an equal member. Belonging has a kind of an “ownership” feel: the institution belongs to us all. I want everyone here not only to know they belong, but to feel they do. It is THEIR institution.

And I will work as hard and strive for that goal. It will not be easy, I know, but it’s essential to say it out loud and work toward making it happen.”

Many members of Indy Hall community and supporters would nod along with this idea. Among the things that have made our community strong over the years is that sense of ownership. I’d go so far as to say it’s what we’re known for.

But what if you don’t see people like you feeling that sense of ownership? 

And what happens when someone (knowingly or not) undermines your sense of ownership? It’s very difficult to feel a complete sense of ownership when you also feel ignored or unsafe.

Our code of conduct specifically and clearly communicates something that we’ve always intended, but isn’t always said out loud.

“This community & institution belongs to all of our members, and together, we’re prepared to help protect that.”


 

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