Background and Charge
As APPA continues to prepare for every future, the Board recognizes that it is time for APPA to formalize its past and current practice around equity and inclusiveness for the association. With the formation of a task force to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), APPA demonstrates a sustained and comprehensive commitment to establish an organizational climate that is just and inclusive—regardless of individual differences, beliefs, and identities.
APPA’s visionary strategic framework recognizes the criticality of lifelong learning by and for our members. As such, our understanding of and response to DEI will further evolve as we address the needs of this membership community. This work belongs to every member of our community, with APPA as a key collaborator in integrating DEI into all aspects of the APPA mission.
With this commitment, the APPA Board of Directors identified one of its high-priority initiatives as a focus on advancing DEI principles and practices within APPA.
The APPA Board set the following three goals for the Task Force work:
- Evaluating current opportunities for APPA to become more welcoming, inclusive, and diverse;
- Identifying barriers that have hindered APPA’s progress in this area; and,
- Recommending strategies for APPA to increase its diversity and inclusion in such areas as programs, board composition, and volunteer opportunities.
Over the past ten months, the Task Force has made meaningful progress on its goals. What follows is a DEI Statement of Commitment; definitions of the DEI terms; overriding, overarching themes; and five recommended strategies, plus associated actions and potential metrics and measures to help the APPA Board and professional staff make long-term progress in support of this initiative/journey.
The focus of this work sends an important signal to our membership that APPA recognizes the importance of integrating DEI into all aspects of the association. This initiative is fundamental to APPA’s continued success as the professional association of choice for educational facilities professionals.
APPA Statement of Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
“APPA is committed to intentional and ongoing pursuit of a welcoming environment where diversity of thought and perspective is highly valued, free from barriers, and seeks to correct conditions of disadvantage. To fully represent the people and places of the educational communities we serve, APPA will empower its members through the provision of its resources and services in a fair and impartial manner. Our strength stems from the dedication, experiences, unique attributes, and talents of every member.”
DEI Definition of Terms
DIVERSITY: Diversity at APPA includes valuing diversity of thought and perspective and connecting the unique attributes, backgrounds, and experiences that each individual brings to the organization. APPA recognizes that its strength comes from the dedication, experience, talents, and perspectives of every member. To fulfill our mission, APPA must fully reflect and include individuals who represent the people and places of the education communities that we serve. We will create an environment where individuals are able to embrace their differences and leverage them to support educational excellence.
EQUITY: APPA encourages the establishment of working conditions that are free from barriers and seeks to correct conditions of disadvantage. APPA recognizes that each person has different circumstances and will strive to provide the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. APPA provides services and opportunities accessible in a fair and impartial manner. Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities.
INCLUSION: APPA is committed to an intentional and ongoing pursuit of a welcoming environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, offered access to opportunities and resources, and empowered to contribute to the successful execution of the association’s mission.
Overarching Themes, Strategies, and Actions
Several themes have emerged from our initial work that bear mentioning and further reinforcement. DEI intersects with everything and as such is a shared responsibility for and by all stakeholders. That said, we must build systems to assess, reset, and recheck outcomes to ensure DEI is “baked in” to everything we do. Consistency, continuity, and accountability will be critical to these efforts, thus requiring training to level up expectations and understandings, ensure accountability, and maintain a focus on resultant impacts. Make no mistake: language matters, images matter, and feedback loops matter. We are committed to these themes and recognize their importance to the successful launch and long-term journey of this DEI initiative.
The five strategies and representative actions chosen for APPA to focus and advance DEI are as follows:
1. Volunteer Recruitment, Retention, and Leadership Activities
- Improve diversity of our volunteer pool
- Improve diversity of the membership through onboarding and affinity groups
- Increase collaboration between APPA and other key organizations
2. Professional Staff and Board
- Target responsibility(s) for the DEI work
- Establish baseline expectations across all roles/job descriptions of APPA staff
- Review APPA’s governance structure to eliminate any barriers to inclusion
- Undertake succession planning for the Board and APPA staff
3. Member-Facing Offerings and Brand Promise, Identity, and Messaging
- Review educational offerings through a DEI lens
- Create guidelines and implement practices to ensure APPA events are more accessible and inclusive
- Provide a safe space for reporting incidents at APPA events
- Build new and different engagement opportunities for members
- Add DEI resources to the Body of Knowledge (BOK)
- Ensure content of APPA’s images, language, etc., are reflective of APPA’s
brand, with an emphasis on DEI principles and values
4. Policies, Procedures, and Awards Criteria
- Review employee handbook to ensure DEI alignment and support for onboarding
- Review accounting/business practices for DEI alignment
- Develop procurement template and guidelines
- Ensure awards selection and processes are transparent, equitable, and fair
- Review awards language for DEI terminology and inclusivity
- Establish DEI award
5. Training, Assessment, and Continuous Improvement (universally applies to all strategies and associated actions)
- Establish Standing Activity team of volunteers
- Establish a baseline climate survey
- Establish data points, key performance indicators (KPIs), and benchmarks to track progress
- Develop decision matrix to ensure services are free of barriers and inclusive
- Develop guidelines and training activities to ensure consistent application of DEI principles, values, and practices for all stakeholders
Conclusion and Call to Action
This work represents an intentional balance between aspirational thoughts and specific actions that will drive practical implementation and execution over time. Yet this work is intended to initiate a cultural shift within APPA. As such, it is an invitation to APPA members to assist in transforming the association and the educational facilities management industry sector. Without a commitment from our membership, we will not succeed. Therefore, we are asking everyone to make the following commitments to:
- become radically self-aware;
- look to the past and critically examine the industry and your actions within it;
- reflect using a DEI lens;
- look backward, forward, and within, through our definitions of diversity, equity, and inclusion;
- notice and acknowledge points of discord; and,
- make this a topic of conversation.
As we become more open to and interested in the differences in how each of us experiences the world, we will all become more aware of the barriers that are preventing equity and inclusion for some within APPA and educational facilities management. As our awareness increases, we can work together to bring down the barriers.
The launch of this work is considered a long-term journey that will permeate everything we do and be a part of every conversation. To achieve success, we must all become more open and vulnerable, and do so with humility. Together we can enhance that sense of belonging and welcoming that is so critical to creating a true culture of inclusion.
Learn more about APPA’s DEI efforts at https://www.appa.org/dei-statement/.