DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION

Our differences should fuel our creative spirit and lead us to consider new perspectives and possibilities. When we create a community that welcomes new voices and considers new viewpoints as a catalyst for innovation, we suddenly find the potential for things we’ve never dreamed about doing, trying or achieving. Diversity is strength, and with it comes excellence.

 

The voice of ALL of our members and future members matter. It is essential that the Fraternity continue to work daily to improve the climate of APO and the communities we serve and serve with. It is essential that, as brothers and participating citizens, we continue to learn more and do more to create positive change that drives out hate and racism and improves the world.

 

The goal of this page is to be transparent in the Fraternity’s diversity, equity and inclusion journey, as well as provide educational tools and resources to improve our members’ understanding of DEI and the role it plays in their leadership journey.

Graphic that reads "letter from Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee" in black and blue with a white background. graphic of scrolled paper in white with blue background.

The National Diversity Committee of Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity has accomplished much during 2020. With a charge to facilitate access to diversity resources, lead and foster collaborations that substantively increase inclusivity in the fraternity, and advocate for underrepresented chapters. The hardships of COVID-19 and national acts of Anti-Blackness caused unrest for our entire fraternity. Alpha Phi Omega responded by appointing a National Diversity Committee Chair, reviewing all APO membership and extension policies through a lens of equity, inclusion, and diversity, and plans to develop educational outreach programs that focus on social justice.

 

Institutional change requires institutional action. The committee began our work from the foundational acknowledgment that systemic sexism and racism exist in Alpha Phi Omega within our practices, processes, culture, and structure. We have the responsibility to take the intentional actions necessary to address these historical inequities. Thus, our committee has several recommendations to ensure that the fraternity is a more inclusive space for all.

 

In peace & appreciation,

Candice Solomon-Strutz

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Chair

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Alpha Phi Omega is committed to cultivating a community where we welcome, celebrate, and respect everyone.

Diversity

Alpha Phi Omega defines diversity very broadly. Diversity refers to individual and social group differences including, but not limited to, learning styles, life experiences, race, ethnicity, country of origin, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, parental status, ability, and health, as well as cultural, religious, political and other affiliations.

 

Equity

Alpha Phi Omega defines equity as promoting justice, impartiality and fairness within the procedures, processes, and distribution of resources by institutions or systems. Tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our society.

 

Inclusion

Alpha Phi Omega defines inclusion as the active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity. An inclusive community promotes and sustains a sense of belonging; it values and practices respect for its members’ talents, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of living.

DEI STRATEGIC INITIATIVE

The DEI Program has been charged with establishing a plan that helps the Fraternity achieve its strategic goal of improve chapter climate by implementing supportive programs and initiatives that result in an appreciation for chapter openness and inclusivity by 2025.

What do we mean by chapter climate?

Chapter climate is a measure—real or perceived—of the chapter environment as it relates to interpersonal, service-learning, and professional interactions. In a healthy chapter climate, individuals feel welcomed, respected, and valued by the chapter. The chapter climate is about moving beyond the numbers (Hurtado, 2007). Chapter climate refers to the experience of individuals in the chapter—and the quality and extent of the interaction between individuals. Addressing chapter climate is an important and necessary component in any comprehensive plan for diversity and inclusion.

 

CHAPTER CLIMATE ASSESSMENT

  • Create and implement an annual chapter assessment
  • Grow to 100% of the number of chapters who fully participate
  • Reporting place for diversity & inclusion incidents, separate than spirits & standards

 

ACCESS TO RESOURCES

  • Fraternity committed to providing universally accessible services and opportunities to everyone
  • 100% of chapters have access to diversity & inclusion resources including a glossary of terminology

 

RECRUITMENT/RETENTION

  • Include more people of color in leadership positions within all levels of the Fraternity
  • 100% of chapters will have greater confidence in abilities to incorporate diversity & inclusion

 

COMMUNICATION

  • Facilitated dialogue with the BOD and HBCU representation to address biases and establish a path forward.
  • Chapters will have greater confidence in their abilities to have conversations regarding diversity and inclusion.

WHAT'S BEEN DONE?

The Board elevated the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force to a program area equivalent with Leadership, Service, Membership and Extension with the goal of facilitating continuous collaboration with the existing programs and ensure their work aligns and encourages equitable practices. Once established, the DEI Program Committee was charged with facilitating access to diversity resources, leading and fostering collaborations that substantively increase inclusivity in the Fraternity, and advocating for chapters as needed. Additionally, the Board established a task force to review extension on HBCUs with a charge of developing a plan to increase APO’s presence, members and chapters. Once these two work groups became organized, they set out their work and made reports to the Board this past spring and summer.

 

In order to work based on feedback from our members and not assumptions, the Fraternity launched two surveys this past spring at the request of the DEI Program and HBCU Task Force.

  • The first survey sought to better understand the relationship between APO and HBCU chapters and extension groups. The information provided will help the HBCU Task Force supplement recommendations the task force has come up with that will go before the Board of Directors.
  • The second was the Chapter Climate Survey, which will now be an annual survey of our student membership that lets us know how accepted members feel within their chapter, section, region, and nationally.

WHAT'S TO COME

With the data gathered from the survey’s mentioned above, and our members’ feedback, the Fraternity is working to create education materials and policies that support an equitable organization for all members. The principles of diversity, equity and inclusion must be present in all facets of our organization – inclusive of policies, programs, leadership appointments and committee makeup.

 

Over the next year, the DEI Program Committee will work with all of our other programs to review practices and procedures through the lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Both the DEI Program and the HBCU Task Force are actively working with the other eight national program committees to review membership and extension policies as they relate to DEI, and helping these committees evaluate and adjust the programming offered to support a more equitable APO. This work will continue into the fall of 2021 and spring 2022.

 

In addition to our own efforts, the Fraternity recently partnered with The Professional Fraternity Association in the PFA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative. This initiative is a multi-phase program that invites members of professional fraternity and sororities of all industries and fields across the nation to affect positive change within our chapters, communities and profession. The first of the three DEI Initiatives launches this fall on apo.org and the APO Mobile Resources App for members. Phase I consists of Exploring Unconscious/Implicit Bias through the Harvard Implicit Bias Assessments. In this phase, we ask our members to start with themselves on this journey to create more equitable able inclusive communities. Check out the resource area below to access the Phase 1 Course and start your journey towards better understanding implicit bias.

RESOURCES AND EDUCATION

DEI Glossary

The dialogue around diversity, equity, and inclusion is broad and still growing. Therefore, the need for a common vocabulary to avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Words often have different meanings; depending on lived experiences, words might hold different meanings for different people. The purpose of this glossary is to promote dialogue around equity and inclusion. This glossary is not meant to be exhaustive since language is continuously evolving. The main goal is to provide a basic framework around this conversation. Click here to visit the Growing DEI Glossary of Terms

 

Courses

APO recently partnered with The Professional Fraternity Association in the PFA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative. This initiative is a multi-phase program that invites members of professional fraternity and sororities of all industries and fields across the nation to affect positive change within our chapters, communities and profession. Phase I consists of Exploring Unconscious/Implicit Bias through the Harvard Implicit Bias Assessments. In this phase, we ask our members to start with themselves on this journey to create more equitable able inclusive communities.  Click here to Explore Unconscious Bias (organizational code: going)

 

Helpful Reads

 

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