Introduction: Mission and Core Values
The YAA seeks to make all alumni feel welcomed and included in the alumni community, to include Yale alumni of all backgrounds in leadership roles, and to provide a culture of respect and courtesy.
The YAA’s mission states: “Our mission is to enhance and renew the lifelong Yale experience for all alumni, whoever they are and wherever they may be. We strive to inspire new ideas, affiliations, friendships, professional fulfillment, and acts of service, around the world.”
With this mission and core values, all YAA activities and programs are founded on the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
Defining Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Diversity is the representation of many different types of people according to gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, disability, etc.
Equity ensures underserved and underrepresented populations have fair and equal access to the opportunities, resources, and networks that are critical to advancement.
Inclusion is the creation and support of an environment in which all people are welcomed, valued, and supported.
Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and DEI Efforts
The starting point is making a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, both in terms of representation and leadership. This is followed by intentional outreach to alumni from diverse backgrounds, and by organizing and promoting events of interest to such alumni.
Read our three sections below – “Committing to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” “Intentional Outreach to Alumni from Diverse Backgrounds,” and “Organizing Programs of Interest” – for more.
Committing to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Has your alumni group leadership discussed a commitment to expand the participation of alumni from diverse backgrounds? Does your group’s governance documents – bylaws, mission statements, statements of purpose, and online presence reflect a specific intent to reach and engage all alumni? Has your group’s leadership discussed and agreed to standards of conduct that are community-building?
If not, you should make an effort to review your governance documents. Also, consider including a statement regarding appropriate conduct for participants within all registrations for activities and events.
If it helps in guiding those efforts, here is a guide on Yale/YAA expectations:
- Promote allyship within the group and its leadership. This means recognizing and addressing an inequity or a rude comment in the moment. Being an ally means not being silent and instead speaking up for others.
- Realize that intent does not equal impact. Consider what you say/write, and if you are surprised by the response, ask why and be curious and open to learning.
Prioritize including alumni from diverse backgrounds in meaningful leadership roles – and not simply to “check the box” for diversity to achieve token representation. For some class groups, this might mean including widows and classmates from underrepresented minorities and those from areas outside of the northeast U.S. For some clubs, this might mean including young alumni and alumni of color.
Consider conducting an annual self-assessment to gauge your commitment to DEI. To help you along the way, here is a sample self-assessment you can use:
Purpose: The purpose of this questionnaire is to enable an alumni group leader/leadership to consider the group’s culture, infrastructure, activities, initiatives, leadership succession, and efforts generally to include and engage a diverse group of alumni across demographics (gender, age, race/ethnicity, backgrounds) and geographical location (for shared interest groups, and Yale College classes), and identify opportunities for improvement.
- To what extent do young alumni participate in your group’s activities?
- To what extent do alumni of color participate in your group’s activities?
- To what extent do young alumni participate in your group’s activities?
- To what extent do alumnae participate in your group’s activities?
- To what extent are alumni from diverse cohorts positioned as a future leader of your group?
- Would you consider racial diversity a priority of your group?
- Does your group reference diversity, equity, and inclusion in any of its official or internal documents?
- Has your group featured DEI topics and themes in programs in the last year? Would you like assistance from the YAA in identifying such topics or themes?
- How is diversity, inclusion, and equity defined by your club?
- Does your group have a written commitment to DEI?
- Have you reviewed your group’s commitment to DEI as reflected in your governing documents, strategic plan, social media/website descriptions, annual meeting agenda, etc.?
- How often were persons of color or young alumni or students invited by your group as guest speakers during the past three years? Would you like assistance from the YAA in identifying possible guest speakers along these demographics?
- Do you represent diversity in your marketing collateral and communications efforts? See our Communications toolkit for more.
- Does your group hold events at venues accessible to public transportation?
- Does your group hold events at venues that have historically been welcoming to people of color and women?
- How do your responses compare to your expectations for the year?
- How do your responses compare to last year’s responses?
- What actions and goals will your leadership set to improve your responses next year?
An important part of any group assessment is a parallel self-assessment of group leaders. In many ways, genuine engagement with DEI begins with a self-assessment of your own biases. For more, see the free implicit bias test offered by Harvard University.
Intentional Outreach to Alumni from Diverse Backgrounds
Reaching out to alumni from diverse backgrounds personally is most effective. Consider having your group’s president or chair personally contact alumni from diverse backgrounds to build relationships and to invite them to attend events, help plan or speak at events, and/or serve in the group’s leadership.
Your group’s leadership should take advantage of annual activities such as Feb Club, Yale Day of Service, summer picnics, dinners, and more to get to know alumni of diverse backgrounds and later to follow up with an email or phone call to invite the alum to participate in group activities in some way.
One way to expand your group’s outreach is to coordinate your activities with other alumni leaders in your community, such as those from other Yale alumni groups: regional clubs, shared interest groups, Yale College classes, graduate and professional school alumni chapters, Alumni Schools Committee members, and Yale Alumni Fund volunteers.
To make all alumni feel welcome at events, your group’s leadership should make a special effort to warmly welcome young alumni and alumni from diverse backgrounds. In this way, the leadership team shows a personal commitment to inclusion.
Yale has a large and engaged group of diverse alumni, meaning you already have a talented pool of leaders to draw from. That said, if you are unable to identify alumni in your community from diverse backgrounds, please reach out to your YAA staff liaison.
Organizing Programs of Interest
Featuring speakers and panelists from backgrounds different from those in your alumni group builds a stronger alumni community. For example, class leaders may make a special effort to include surviving partners and classmates from outside the northeast U.S. in their alumni groups. They may also feature young alumni and students in their programming. If you struggling to identify such individuals, contact your YAA staff liaison for assistance.
Activities that may engage alumni from diverse backgrounds could include the following:
- A shared activity that promotes DEI as lifelong learning, such as participating in workshops, reading books or articles, viewing movies and webinars, and partnering with Yale and non-Yale groups (e.g., other local Yale alumni groups, peer institution alumni groups, and family members) to organize events focused on DEI, inviting speakers from campus or locally. If helpful, the YAA has curated a list of resources.
- Events branded as Community Impact Initiatives (described in this report) to bring together alumni and civic leaders to discuss solutions to community challenges.
- Yale Day of Service activities at sites that would interest a wide variety of diverse alumni communities.
- Career-focused opportunities that feature a DEI component, such as speed mentoring (contact your YAA staff liaison for a planning guide) and participation in Cross Campus, Yale’s online networking, community-building, and mentoring platform.
It is important that you make your events and programs accessible. Here are some tips to help you do so:
- Location: Consider venues that are accessible to public transportation, that have historically been welcoming to people of color, and that are handicap accessible.
- Fees: Tier, reduce, or eliminate registration fees, perhaps offsetting costs with voluntary contributions.
- Times and Durations: Hold events at times convenient for all alumni, adjusting the duration of programs to suit your audience.
For additional guidance in planning and promoting programs, see our Communications Toolkit.