For associations just starting to work on a DEI strategy, one of the biggest challenges can be establishing accountability for its programs. That was a key question for the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy in 2017 when it made a commitment to strengthen its DEI efforts. It identified what it calls DEIA (the A stands for anti-racism) as a key strategic pillar. But AACP needed to determine how to both establish responsibility for it and measure progress.
Cindy Ziegler, AACP’s associate director of governance and executive office operations, says there’s an essential connection between metrics and accountability. “Whenever you’re trying to measure something, having a policy or statement around it really holds you accountable,” she said. “What gets measured gets done.”
In 2020, AACP established a DEIA Committee that’s responsible for studying DEI gaps and barriers, identifying goals, and serving as a resource throughout the organization. For instance, AACP has set a priority around diversifying its board to make it more reflective of its member population. That means Ziegler sets ground rules with the nominating committee and the DEIA committee around diversity.
“We talk about how we define diversity, which isn’t just what you look like—we define it as geographic location, public or private schools, areas of the country, areas of interest,” she said. “And we consciously look at members leaving the board. What are we losing that we can bring back in to shape the board?”
Because one DEI-related strategic goal at AACP is to support a more diverse group of learners and practitioners, responsibilities fall across the organization, from meetings to credentialing to membership. To keep those conversations going within staff, it’s also established a work group of staff leaders across the organization for weekly conversations about activities in its departments, and also to get into conversations about race and ethnicity. “It was awkward in the beginning, but now that we’ve done it, people are really looking forward to it,” Ziegler said.