Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility
AIC was incorporated in 1972 by a group of white conservation professionals to represent a largely white field. Since then, the demographics of the association and foundation, and particularly leadership, have remained fairly homogeneous, reinforcing the existing power structures in the field of cultural heritage preservation and reflecting the pervasive inequity in the United States. We recognize that the homogeneity of organizational leadership has upheld systemic barriers in the organizations' governance and operations.
We are committed to dismantling these barriers that prevent AIC and FAIC from being just, inclusive, and welcoming organizations that meet the needs of diverse practitioners. In September 2023, the AIC Board approved a Strategic Plan for Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in AIC Leadership. Members can expect to receive a progress update annually at the Member Business Meeting.
In recognition that past practices and guidelines do not sufficiently promote equity, the AIC Board has initiated reviews of the Bylaws, the Code of Ethics, and the AIC professional membership eligibility and application process. These reviews focus on how AIC is structured and governed, who is eligible for leadership roles, and how the organization can best serve all members. The AIC Board crafts and solicits position papers and statements expressing organizational stances on DEIA topics, with the assistance of members. These include the revised Position Statement on Contested Commemorative and Confederate Monuments. The FAIC Board is also engaged in supporting FAIC’s core value of equity and inclusion.
Equity and Inclusion Committee
AIC’s Equity and Inclusion Committee (EIC) was created in 2016 to formalize our commitment to the issues of equity and inclusion within the organization and the field of conservation at large. The committee's predecessor, the Equity and Inclusion Working Group, developed “Recommendations for Advancing Equity and Inclusion in the American Institute for Conservation” to provide an essential road map for our future progress. EIC has created valuable programming and projects, often in collaboration with other networks, committees, and members. These include an Accessibility Survey with member Sally G. Kim, Affinity Groups including the Rainbow Caucus and BIPOC Caucus, and resources collected in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Accessibility section of the AIC Wiki.
Equitable Review Practices
AIC and FAIC staff and member leadership have revised the criteria for applications and reviews to make funding, publication, and abstract acceptance more inclusive and equitable. DEIA has been established as a criteria for abstract review, several funding opportunities, and in publications submissions. Anonymized review of scholarships and grants has been introduced where possible to help reduce bias. To promote open access to information, each funding opportunity has specific criteria for review which are available to both applicants and reviewers.
We work to create and support programs that address topics in DEIA and to improve the accessibility of all of our content. This includes:
- FAIC funding opportunities to support professional development and early career professionals, including the Latin American and Caribbean Scholarships (LACS), Take a Chance Grants, Holly Maxson Conservation Grants, and the George Stout Scholarship
- Providing free and low-cost programs, including outreach programs like FAIC's Connecting to Collections Care
- Providing captioning for virtual events
- A Language Hub with translations of popular resources, including the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice.
- Programs for early career professionals, such as the EIC and Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN) Social Justice and Conservation webinar series and ECPN’s Making the Ask: Developing Negotiation Tactics in the Field of Conservation
- Partnerships with allied organizations, like conservation-focused workshops at the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM) Conference and the Latin American and Caribbean Scholars program with APOYOnline
- Recommending specific short- and long-term initiatives to promote DEIA efforts in the 2023 Held in Trust report.
Member Initiatives & Programming
The Member Engagement Subcommittee is focused on DEIA, including establishing Guidelines for Conduct and sustaining a diverse membership. Our Communications Committee’s Website Subcommittee is developing web accessibility guidelines and has developed the following tips for our internal groups to follow when creating official documents.
AIC and FAIC have made improvements in providing access to programming, such as closed captioning in video events, but acknowledge that there is significant work that must be done. The AIC Annual Meeting presentation guidelines were created to encourage and help presenters create more accessible presentations. Utilizing the Accessibility Survey, we will continue to address community needs to ensure our programming, website, resources, and publications are accessible.
We will continue to add to this page. If you have questions about DEIA initiatives, would like to share additional resources for this page, or suggest new initiatives, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
—Published May 2, 2022