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HREI leads businesses in human rights push

| October 1, 2020 1:00 AM

COEUR d'ALENE — The Human Rights Education Institute has been selected by a group of 12 area businesses and employers to coordinate a new Human Rights Consortium.

The consortium will help members tap into expertise and successes of HREI with an aim of promoting human rights in the region.

“We learned that many local businesses were feeling the need to express support for human rights, yet in some instances did not feel they had the background to make a statement,” said Jeanette Laster, executive director of the Human Rights Education Institute. “This helped us see the opportunity to begin working together as a Human Rights Consortium.”

The consortium has three primary goals: issuing unified position statements as a collective voice to counter vocal pockets of racism and discrimination still present in our region; researching the needs of historically marginalized people in our community; and developing educational resources and training to help area organizations be better informed on human rights issues.

Areas of focus will include health care, financial services, housing, education, and employment, among others.

Consortium members will try to create a collective voice to address human rights issues.

“Human rights are an important issue to many physicians and health care professionals in our community,” said Jon Ness, CEO of Kootenai Health. “We understand the importance of providing health care that feels inclusive for everyone. The Human Rights Consortium will provide a foundation on which we can build a more culturally aware and inclusive community.”

HREI will also take the lead on surveying research on human rights best practices. Research will be shared with consortium members "to enhance their understanding so they can create workplaces and a community in which all people feel truly safe and have the opportunity to participate, thrive and contribute to society."

“Our consortium members want to embrace diversity. They want to be inclusive and respectful. In some cases, they just need help understanding how to do that in a way that is meaningful and sustainable,” Laster said.

“An important motivation for this work is a desire to move our business community and its employees from being bystanders to being upstanders,” said Charles Buck, associate vice president and executive officer for University of Idaho, Coeur d’Alene.

Initial members of the consortium include the following organizations: Avista Utilities, Engaging Team Concepts Consulting, Hagadone Corporation (publishing, hospitality and marine), Heritage Health, Idaho Commission on Human Rights, Idaho State Police, Kootenai Health, Lewis and Clark State College Coeur d’Alene Center, North Idaho College, Northwest Specialty Hospital, University of Idaho Coeur d’Alene and the Human Rights Education Institute.

The Consortium is seeking additional business community members.

InfoL Jeanette Laster JLaster@HREI.org or 208-292-2359.