Diversity Committee Name Change Response

Diversity Committee Name Change Response

It’s All About the Issue 

In July of 2017, I joined the Ad Hoc Committee Co-Chaired by Erick Núñez and Malika Ramdas. We met for the very first time with the sole purpose to discuss “Issues of Diversity”, a name that would follow our transition into a Standing Committee years later.  From the very beginning, the underlying emotions when putting topics on the table have been as raw as the issues that have emerged. 

There had been pain, there had been hurt and there had been unintended exclusion. Hence the emergence of a Standing Committee that hit the ground running. Thank you Co-Chairs Erick Núñez and Dean Mendes. Thank you Marie Vivas for leading us in this journey.  

By 2019 we all knew and confirmed that there was no easy way to center conversations from the very diverse International ACAC membership, in particular from the perspective of non-dominant voices. We were energized by the intent to celebrate the unique differences within OUR membership and the opportunity to help identify the barriers that prevented the full and even participation of our membership.

As one of the founders of this committee, I knew and confirmed that there would be no easy way to raise the discussion related to systemic racism in our organization. Yet, the committee has. We still are. And even though we are not where we need to be yet, what we do know is that whatever the ongoing mandate will be for this “Committee on Issues of Diversity”, it needs to ditch the word “Issues”, because Diversity is so much more than an issue. 

Within this conviction, and as a new Standing Committee, we spent months discussing a name change. We had some pretty solid reasons for thinking change was necessary; yet these discussions remained within our committee. THAT is on us.

The outcome of the "Forum on Systemic Racism" confirmed our need to focus on Diversity AND Equity. This was a huge shared conclusion. From the lens of the International ACAC membership represented within the members of this committee, our participation in the Forum created the need to define the meaning of diversity that would give justice to a more global view of member differences. This notion framed our conversations.

Justice and peace became imminent consequential goals to achieve through the pursuit of celebrating diversity and ensuring equity. Additionally, this fundamental thinking motivated our effort to distinguish this committee -that in our minds was already the Committee on Diversity and Equity - from another with a similar name. 

With these early conversations and committee consensus, a motion was set forward  in the Membership Meeting with a proposed name change. And it didn't pass.

From the outcome of the membership meeting we understood that more conversations are needed. Not only within the committee but also with the entire membership. In particular, because the conversation regarding the name of the committee was and still is, closely related to the identity of this committee. 

The fact that members took the time to pose some very important questions means that you are engaged. That you care. That the name matters, big time. And we are listening. On this blog, on a post or in an email ([email protected]), we are committed to opening this conversation to capture your voices, in particular the voices that are less heard. We ask that you tell us more about your questions below. In particular what compelled you to ask these questions and why you see them as important.

So what happens after the membership meeting? We understand that you agree with us in dropping the word “Issues” from the name. Then, we continue the conversation. We can go back to the beginning. We can meet members where they are. We realize that this is your Committee. 

But in regards to coming up with a name this Committee needs to take a pause.

As you read this, this Committee is still soul searching and grappling with operationalizing our mandate and delineating working boundaries within the organization. In fact, the writing of the content for this blog has warranted even many more concerns, questions and needs for conversations. Needed conversations that are challenged by geography and time zones. Yet we are far from discouraged. 

Now, is there any consensus among us all? Yes.  We agree on the need to focus our energy on narrowing  down this committee's mandate instead of naming the committee at this time. Let our path guide the designation of our name. Let's play closer attention to the questions the membership has posed and let's discuss these some more. Let's dig further, for the sake of inclusion and equity. We've got to make sure we aim for social justice. This committee in particular.

Clearly, we are so compelled to dig into the nitty gritty of what the mandate for this committee should be. Even WE are surprised that what we need now is some time to agree upon what might seem so simple for a group of dominant voices, which we are not. 

In the meantime, to your questions below, we’d like to hear more and particularly...why? 

Rosa Moreno-Zutautas
Co-Chair of the Committee of Issues of Diversity on Behalf of the Committee

1. Any changes to the description of the work? 

2. Should “Justice” be added?

3. Any thoughts to adding "Inclusion" to the name and mission of the group?

4. Does the language in the new title of the committee reflect international (non-North American) standards of language around these issues?

5. If the committee’s mandate has not changed, why add the word "Equity"?

6. I propose an amendment to add "Inclusion" to the title - we should still emphasize inclusion when considering it inside the organization.

7. Change to Organizational Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.

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