Setting Public Policy

Government at all levels exists, in part, to create public policy. NCBI counsels political leaders and government officials on generating consensus and promoting effective policy. The methodologies presented in the NCBI Leadership Institute benefit both politicians, who are looking for creative, non-divisive ways to enable everyone to learn about all sides of an issue before crafting legislation, and agency staff, who are implementing controversial policies.

In the U.S. Senate, for example, a bill to eliminate race as a factor in adoption stirred heated debate among lawmakers and child advocates on different sides of the issue of transracial adoption. NCBI facilitated a daylong legislative summit, involving 50 organizations with various views on federal adoption policy, to forge a legislative agenda.

Recently, the state of North Carolina and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) contracted NCBI to facilitate a two-day Sex Education Summit. The session brought religious leaders and advocates for “abstinence only” education together with school officials, sex education advocates, and youth health experts who believe that young people need information about contraception, sexually transmitted disease, and homosexuality. Rather than dwell on differences, participants found a surprising amount of common ground. The meeting was so successful, the CDC funded agencies in two additional states to hire NCBI to replicate the program.

Promoting Public Sector Improvements

Government also exists to provide programs and services in an increasingly diverse society. To accomplish this, public agencies must prepare a workforce that both represents and is sensitive to all of the people it serves. Managers need to create a work environment that attracts and nurtures minority talent.

The New York State Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER), which coordinates training for every agency in the State, uses NCBI principles and methods as central components of its diversity initiative. Since 1995, when the GOER NCBI Affiliate was established, more than 20 public agencies in New York have adopted such programs and more than 15,000 state employees have received NCBI training.

The 207,000-member Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), the largest public sector affiliate of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) nationwide, adopted NCBI as its diversity initiative several years ago, placed key NCBI principles in its mission statement, and uses the Leadership for Diversity Institute as a key resource in coalition building among diverse groups within the union.

Adapting NCBI Workshop Models

Roxanne Wright, GOER’s Director of the NCBI Public Sector Affiliate, states that NCBI programs continue to be among the most impactful, effective, and economical. Most important to the agencies selecting NCBI for diversity training, she adds, is the broad treatment of diversity and NCBI’s ability to allow discussion of the variety of issues that could surface in a geographically diverse state.

GOER offers the following NCBI workshops:

  • “Working Effectively in a Diverse Workplace,” an adaptation of the NCBI Welcoming Diversity Workshop that focuses on the needs and realities of New York State public sector work.
  • “Shifting Attitudes and the Controversial Issues Process”, a workshop that focuses on NCBI skills for handling oppressive remarks and behaviors as well as constructively working through challenging issues.
  • “Peacemaking in the Workplace,” a variation of the NCBI Violence Prevention Workshop that addresses the kinds of tension and combativeness found in government agencies.

These and similar adaptations of NCBI models for application in government are widely available within NCBI.