The Alliance formally began taking steps towards Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) back in 2015, incorporating topical discussions and projects into our annual Chesapeake Watershed Forum. Our DEI work from 2015 onward can be seen in both programmatic and internal practices thanks to our Board Resolution for Building a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion and the organization’s 2019 – 2022 Strategic Plan, highlighting inclusivity as one of our three values. An update on some of our more recent DEI work is detailed in our Looking Inward on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion blog post, by Chief Operating Officer, Drew Siglin.

Shortly after the Alliance’s Board signed the DEI resolution, our staff and leadership began the formation of a DEI Committee, also known as the DEI Team. The Team maintains a mission of making DEI integral in our organizational structure, policies, board of directors, staff, strategic goals, and program delivery. Our goal is simple, to help our staff feel more empowered and knowledgeable around Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) practices. Through a series of discussions, assessments, and helpful tools, the DEI Team compiles it’s work bi-annually into a 2-year workplan that will benefit staff and programs. Workplan priorities vary from items the DEI team can personally provide to staff, partner resources to aid in this work, or external opportunities for further advancement. While there are recurring annual outputs to enhance workplace education and provide safe spaces for various conversations, oftentimes there are specific asks from Alliance staff that the DEI Team may need to create from scratch. One such example is our newly created Terminology Guide, requested to more appropriately communicate subjects and concepts relative to our work, partnerships, and intentions in the DEIJ space. 

The Alliance’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Terminology Guide provides communicative guidance on commonly used DEIJ expressions for organizations operating within the environmental field. While the document does not define all terms of inclusion, it provides conscientious, equitable language for commonly used or often confused terms. 

We coordinated a soft launch of the Guide for an initial round of feedback from partners among the Choose Clean Water Equity Workgroup, the Chesapeake Bay Program Communications and Diversity Workgroups, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation staff. 

After a year of continued research and discussion, the Alliance unveiled the official DEIJ Terminology Communications Guide on September 17th, 2021 coupled with resources for further definitive research and access to inclusive perspectives. While the Guide was created to help address questions our own staff has had over the years, we hope it can serve as an invaluable resource to other communicators as well. It is not meant to be exhaustive, as language is continuously evolving, but we hope it will help address some of the common hurdles we all face in working to create inclusive content.

This is a living resource, always accessible on the Alliance’s DEIJ page, so if you should have any suggestions, concerns, or would like to see any additions to the Guide in the future, do not hesitate to contact or respond to the anonymous comment form.

Download the Guide