A Message from the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Task Force

By Heidi Stensby & Melissa Watson
DEIB Task Force Communications Liaisons

In July of 2020, the IOA Board unanimously approved the establishment of a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Task Force. The group was tasked with helping IOA internally evaluate itself on anti-racism practices and racial justice—and with defining parameters for a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment that supports membership belonging and connection within the organization. 

Under the leadership of co-chairs Brett Harris and Jai Calloway—selected by task force members – the DEIB group dedicated early discussion to the meanings of the words “diversity,” “equity,” “inclusion,” and “belonging”—recognizing that individual perspectives and experiences inform each person’s understanding and practice. To ensure fidelity to the project and IOA’s broad purpose, the task force drafted the following mission and values statements:


The IOA’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging task force (DEIB) is responsible for examining organizational policies and practices in order to determine implicit and explicit systemic inequities and implement constructive changes. The committee shepherds the IOA to mindfully and intentionally institute practices and behaviors that promote inclusiveness and refute inequity.


In the International Ombuds Association, we believe that our differences make us whole. We value:

  • Every thread of our membership tapestry, which incorporates race, age, ancestry, ethnicity, physical ability, neurodiversity, marital and family status, national origin and citizenship, cultural experience, religion, gender and gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, primary language, military status, socioeconomic position, political affiliation, and professional pursuit.
  • A culture of acceptance, respect, fairness, transparency, and representation by all members – cascading to the communities we serve.
  • Discourse which affirms our shared professional principles and reflects dignity toward the civil and respectful expression of ideas and opinions.
  • Appropriate action when we observe an IOA member or participant being treated unfairly or in a demeaning manner.

Each individual within the IOA—regardless of title, position, or tenure – will model these values. We pledge—individually and collectively—to create, maintain, and continuously safeguard an environment that infuses diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging into all processes, practices, and platforms.

While IOA members have volunteered to serve on the task force, the truth is that DEIB does not—cannot—occur in isolation. We cannot be diverse by ourselves. We cannot be equitable by ourselves. We cannot be inclusive by ourselves. And we cannot belong by ourselves. There is abundant value to the collective “we.” The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging task force exists to help the IOA recognize and celebrate the collective “we.” 

If you plan to attend the upcoming IOA virtual conference (“Bridging the Distance”), please stop by the DEIB breakout room to learn more about the task force’s work. Additionally, watch this blog for future updates.


In July 2021, the DEIB Task Force became an official IOA committee.

DEIB Committee Page
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