Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Amnesty International USA

October 23, 2015

Last November, we decided to send our sixth delegation of organizers and human rights observers to Ferguson. In response to requests from community members, AIUSA staff and members chose to go through training, to bear witness, to stand for accountability, and to lift up the voices of community members living their human rights.

These choices reflect a commitment to live our values in a way that recognizes that local human rights abuses are global human rights challenges. Amnesty sections, structures and offices from Hong Kong to Venezuela, and from Brazil to Turkey have made important changes to bring their work closer to the ground. Part of that shift for us here has meant a commitment to working more closely with communities who are most impacted by human rights abuses here at home. And by embarking on an ambitious body of human rights work, at AIUSA we also knew we would have to examine the ways our structure and staffing reflect that same commitment.

This process has been part of a longer journey toward a workplace that is reflective of our values that all human beings are free and equal in dignity and rights. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, AIUSA adopted a series of plans to create an environment that is inclusive of people from diverse backgrounds and works alongside the most impacted communities to drive human rights campaigns that are locally relevant and globally resonant.

As a result of these efforts, we now have an organization that more closely reflects the communities in which we live, work, and serve. But change work is hard work, and there is still more to do.

Addressing racism, oppression, equity, and inclusion is integral to fulfilling our mission.  The recent tragic events in Ferguson, Charleston, Baltimore, and many other locations around the country affirm the need to accelerate this work. That’s why AIUSA’s board and executive team have committed to a sustained and systemic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiative that will inform how we do all that we do.

Over the next six months, we will be developing a DEI work-plan that will guide our efforts to realize a more just and equitable workplace, as well as a stronger, more effective approach to all of our human rights work. Components of this plan include:

  • Surveying member leaders and staff to assess where the organization is today in addressing issues of diversity and equity
  • Identifying critical goals and priorities for integrating the DEI work into our strategic plan for the next four years
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion training for staff and member leaders
  • Developing and implementing a plan that will ensure the work is sustained over time

As with any process, Amnesty members, member leaders, and groups started this process and are essential to our success. We need our membership to build on the good work that is underway and help shape this next chapter in our organization’s history. We will also ask our members to invest energies in measuring our progress year to year to ensure we are meeting our strategic goals.

Work on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is essential as we prepare to welcome the next generation of AIUSA members into our organization, and affirm the values that have driven Amnesty members for years. This work will require new strategies, new tools, and new partners. It will require deep self-reflection, accountability, and commitment to change. It is essential, it will be difficult, and it is a huge part of what will help AIUSA be a stronger force for hope and justice throughout the world.