ӣƵ’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

As society confronts complex social issues that impact our communities, ӣƵ is here to support our staff and association and organizational partners. Now more than ever, we stand together with those who strive to create an environment that is welcoming and inclusive to all.

Our Company

ӣƵ has long been recognized as an ethical, caring, values-driven company. In recent years, our efforts to examine and further our understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion has been a priority. We engaged and formed an ӣƵ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Advisory Group, and appointed two co-leads, Zinat Ali and Katherine Ast, to expand opportunities for education and generate dialogue about diverse experiences and perspectives within the workplace. ӣƵ CEO Steve Smith also pledged his and ӣƵ’s ongoing commitment to advance DEI in our workplace by signing the CEO pledge with , which is a coalition of almost 2,000 CEOs who are dedicated to creating inclusive organizations and collaborating on best practices.

ӣƵ20 DEI Header2

ӣƵ is committed to building a workforce that is diverse across many dimensions including ability, age, gender, gender identity, education, ethnicity, nationality, political opinion, professional experience, race, racial identity, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. We are proud of the people who have chosen to take this journey with us as we continue to learn and grow together. We also look forward to the learning, shared experiences, and changes we will experience as a company because of it.

As part of ӣƵ’s evolving DEI efforts, our ultimate hope is that the environment we create and foster will:

  • broaden understanding and urgency surrounding historic and emerging DEI topics
  • allow an opportunity to pause and consider new perspectives, resulting in constructive dialogue and change
  • create spaces and places where colleagues can connect and embrace cultural awareness and understanding.

Our Partners

At ӣƵ, we assist our association and organizational partners in their DEI journey by helping to gather insights from others; engage in critical conversations; practice conscious inclusion; and explore ways to ensure stakeholders feel valued, heard, and understood. We are fortunate to work with several organizations who share our commitment and engage in similar practices.
We are proud of our partners and appreciate the opportunity to work with them as they develop and refine principles, plans, and programming designed to strengthen and broaden DEI opportunities for their boards, committees, and members.

Sample statements, plans, and programming developed by current ӣƵ clients can be accessed and viewed online:

(article on the development and value of AAHPM’s identity-based communities)

Our Community

In addition to company-wide initiatives and support of clients, ӣƵ staff members also participate in DEI work within the association and Chicagoland community. For example, Wendy-Jo Toyama, an account executive at ӣƵ, is the Immediate Past Chair of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and Steve Smith, CEO of ӣƵ, serves as Chair of Association Forum’s . Several other staff also participate in programming and committees sponsored by these and other professional societies.

SRC group photo porch

In 2005, ӣƵ’s Principals – Scott, Jeff and Mark Engle – founded (SRCs), a nonprofit organization that offers outreach opportunities to eager volunteers. People from all backgrounds and skill levels volunteer for rebuilding projects providing shelter for people in need. Over the past 14 years, more than 4,700 volunteers have supported SRCs mission of Building Homes and Bringing Hope to the underserved. To date, more than 50 homes have been built throughout the United States and in Guatemala and Mexico. ӣƵ staff members are also active in many other local, national, and international nonprofit organizations.

ӣƵ publishes a blog that discusses a variety of DEI-related topics. Through these experiences, we remain engaged in open dialogue, learning, leadership, and growth for all.

Our Work Continues

While we are grateful to our colleagues for their commitment, courage, guidance, and leadership – each of us must continue to confront challenges and opportunities associated with DEI. We have much work to do.

Today, tomorrow, and for weeks and months to come, members of our communities, company, and clients will continue to mourn and many will speak out, not only over the death of George Floyd but also the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor as well as other injustices that will surface and be brought to light. The days ahead will be difficult and we will find ourselves, once again, at a loss for words and not sure how to act.

At ӣƵ, we will always remain

  • accountable to our shared values and principles
  • attentive and responsive when actions do not align with our commitment to be a welcoming environment for all
  • appreciative of the diverse contributions of every individual who works with or is supported by ӣƵ
  • inclusive in our approach to engage staff, clients, and partners in critical conversations and meaningful work.

There is no room for bigotry, bias, or violence in our society and certainly not at ӣƵ. We are proud to work with one another and to embrace the diversity of our talented staff. Diversity creates strength and beauty—and an opportunity and commitment to be advocates and allies. Together, we strive to help each other and our partners “achieve what they believe.”