Why is Tri Delta focused on DEI?
Based on research conducted in the Fall of 2021, we know that more than 18% of our collegiate membership is non-white—meaning one in five of our collegiate members is a Member of Color. In addition, 15% of our collegiate members—one in six—identifies as LGBQ+. These statistics are not unique to Tri Delta. They are consistent with current demographics in higher education.
Bottom line: Tri Delta must understand WHO our members are in order to meet them WHERE they are, as we work together to ensure an experience that not only recognizes, but welcomes and celebrates their diversity.
Our commitment to DEIAB is anchored in our Purpose, inspired by our Ritual, and rooted in our values. Our Founders set the example for this kind of growth and development as individuals and as an organization founded to be kind alike to all.
- Through our commitment to DEIAB, we are working toward three outcomes for Tri Delta and our members:
- To become a more diverse organization and live up to our founding tenet of being kind alike to all.
- Enable Tri Delta collegians to graduate with skills and competencies to advance DEIAB where they live, work, study and serve.
- Empower Tri Delta alumnae/volunteers with the skills and competencies needed to create an inclusive environment of belonging for all members.
What happened to LEADDD Now and LEADDD Always?
In the summer of 2020, Tri Delta’s Convention body called on our leaders and members to LEADDD Now in the wake of racial violence and societal unrest. We stepped into this work with humility and determination to ensure an equitable and inclusive lifetime membership experience for our Black, Indigenous and Members of Color.
- We have made a lot of progress since 2020, including:
- Acknowledging our history and past harms
- Adding five Sisters of Colors to our governing boards
- Launching Brave & Bold Dialogues training
- Hosting LEADDD Now Conversations
- Conducting an enterprise-wide diversity audit
We’ve learned a lot! And while LEADDD Now and LEADDD Always were reflective of a point in time for Tri Delta, we now are defining ways in which diversity, equity, access, inclusion and belonging will be centered in Tri Delta and embedded into every aspect of the member experience.
What does DEIAB stand for?
Diversity | Equity | Inclusion | Access | Belonging
D=Diversity: The myriad ways in which people differ, including the psychological, physical, and social differences that occur among all individuals, such as race, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, religion, economic class, education, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, mental and physical ability and learning styles.
E=Equity: Everyone having the same access to opportunities, supported and enforced by group policy and culture. Equity accounts for imbalances, unequal starting points, and unfair treatment.
I=Inclusion: Authentically bringing traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes, activities, and decision/policy making in a way that shares power.
A=Access/Accessibility: The design of products, devices, services, or environments so as to be usable by people with disabilities, whether the disabilities are visible or invisible. (Source: Tri Delta DEI Committee Manual)
B= Belonging: The feeling of security and support when there is a sense of acceptance, inclusion and identity for a member of a certain group. It is when an individual can bring their authentic self.
What did we learn for the enterprise diversity audit?
In Spring of 2021, we partnered with Culture Shift Team to conduct an enterprise-wide diversity audit that included:
- An extensive review of Tri Delta’s governing documents, policies and processes
- Staff and Board interviews
- A comprehensive leadership assessment focused on cultural competence and organizational readiness for change
- A series of Reflective Dialogue Sessions with Tri Delta Members of Color
Culture Shift Team completed the audit in the Fall of 2021 and shared three key findings with Tri Delta’s leadership:
- We have opportunities to improve our internal documents, policies and processes from a DEI perspective. Discussion and work around these opportunities have been ongoing since last fall among members, volunteers and staff. You’ll see some of this work reflected in proposed amendments to Tri Delta’s Bylaws at our upcoming Convention.
- We have an opportunity to broaden our focus around DEI to reflect the work that was already happening in areas like access and belonging; and
- We need to learn more about our members—who they are and what they need to help drive the work around DEIAB forward. This resulted in two surveys: a Collegiate Inclusion Climate Survey and an Alumnae Engagement & Inclusion Survey. We will be sharing those results as we get them throughout the Spring and Summer of 2022.
What can I do as an individual member?
- Once you make your commitment, you can update your demographic information in your My Tri Delta Member Profile. This will allow Tri Delta to better know and serve our members and to tailor communications and opportunities designed just for you.
- Use the Action Planning Guides to bring your commitment to life.
Action Planning Guide—Collegiate Edition
Action Planning Guide—Alumnae Edition
What can my collegiate chapter do to help?
- Your chapter should already have a DEI(AB) committee. (If not, you can talk to your VPCR about starting one.) Consider joining the committee to provide insight and input.
- Participate as a group in DEIAB educational opportunities on your campus and/or at LEADDDer.org. Our Brave & Bold Dialogues course is a great place to start!
- Utilize the Action Planning Guide—Collegiate Edition for inspiration and encouragement.
- Find additional ideas and resources, including the Glossary.
What can my alumnae chapter do to help?
- Participate as a group in DEIAB education, by bringing a speaker to a chapter meeting or completing Brave & Bold Dialogues training on LEADDDer.org.
- Host a book club or discussion group centered around one of the DEIAB resources on tridelta.org
- Utilize the Action Planning Guide—Alumnae Edition for inspiration and encouragement.
Tri Delta is not a political organization, so why are we engaging in the political issue?
For us, DEIAB is not a political issue. By centering DEIAB in Tri Delta, we’re living into our founding tenet as a society that would be kind alike to all. Tri Delta’s commitment to DEIAB is anchored in Purpose, inspired by our Ritual and rooted in our values. It’s about knowing our members and meeting them where they are to allow us to see them, serve them and celebrate their uniqueness as we work to enable a lifelong journey of development and growth.
With all the focus on DEI over the last two years, both around the country and in Tri Delta, hasn’t the issue been resolved already? And if not, why?
The work around diversity, equity, inclusion, access and belonging is transformational work. It’s work that takes time and intention—listening, learning, growing, changing as individuals and an organization. As we know better, we’ll do better. But, in truth, this work will never be done—in the same way that kindness—our founding tenet—will never go out of style.
We know that for some this work is moving way too slow and for others it is moving too fast. Our goal through DEIAB work is to create space for all of our members—to meet them where they are and allow them to decide when and how they’ll step into the work and the pace at which they’ll engage. The work of DEIAB is a journey—one that Tri Delta members are on together.
What progress has Tri Delta made to ensure equity and access over the last two years?
With support from Culture Shift Team as part of the diversity-wide audit, Tri Delta examined a number of policies, programs and processes to ensure equity and access. Changes include:
- Eliminating chapter-level legacy policies
- Reducing in national fees
- Expanding the use of payment plans for all members
- Introducing an alternative, lower-cost badge
- Ensuring inclusion in our Ritual
- Adding closed-captioning capabilities to our virtual events and meetings
- Piloting a common-sense accessibility audit
- And more …
Review our Progress page for more details.
How has Tri Delta helped make potential members and sisters dealing with mental health struggles feel a greater sense of belonging in Tri Delta?
Recent research into the collegiate member experience suggests that mental health issues impact 40% of our membership. Tri Delta’s mental health programming, Behind Happy Faces, is available to all chapters. This peer-facilitated program is designed to change the conversation around mental health and mental illness and to provide members with the tools they need to approach or refer a friend who may be struggling with their mental health. More than 10,000 Tri Delta members have participated in this program since its inception in 2019.
In 2021, Tri Delta launched a partnership with SOAR Student Success Program, providing members and their family with 24/7 access to mental health support. Behind Happy Faces and SOAR are made possible by generous grants from Tri Delta’s Foundation.
What does success look like?
In Tri Delta, we know that what gets done, gets measured. And while we are still defining the specific metrics for our DEIAB work, we’ve committed to hold ourselves accountable and in five measurable areas:
- Diverse representation
- Members’ experience with inclusion
- Equity measures tied to policies and processes
- The efficacy of our educational programs
- And overall progress on the DEIAB Journey
We’ll report out regularly on our progress on our Progress page.
Ultimately, success will be achieved when we’re no longer talking about prioritizing and centering DEIAB in Tri Delta—when we’re living into all it means to be as a society founded to be kind alike to all.