The American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity (AAAED) was founded in 1974 as the American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA), a non-profit organization. It is the longest-standing national civil rights organization of professionals who engage in the important work of leading, directing and managing affirmative action, equal opportunity, diversity and other human resource programs.
The business of the organization includes providing expert opinion, guidance, commentary and influence on the national stage in response to new and existing federal legislation, agency regulations and guidance, judicial reviews pending and court case outcomes, as well as current events that challenge the advances made in the access, inclusion and equal opportunity of all people in the economic, educational, employment, political and related arenas of our U.S. society.
The dedicated efforts of AAAED span non-discrimination vigilance to promoting understanding of affirmative action, inclusive excellence and the how-to’s of concrete ways to build policies and action steps to ensure access, equality, inclusion, and equity in all spheres of opportunity.
The evolution of the name of the organization is a recognition of the changing nature of the professional work and titles of our members. At the core of our collective work is strong opposition to federal or state action that would eliminate affirmative action programs that provide equal access and equity to minorities, women, veterans and individuals with disabilities. AAAED is equally as strong in providing training on the complexities of compliance work, which is the engine to the achievement of access, equity and diversity.
Compositional diversity of an organization is one goal of affirmative action and related civil rights compliance work. Systemic organizational diversity is the result of the marriage of compliance with policy that fosters inclusion of diverse people and perspectives in every organizational level and endeavor, with strong emphasis on professional educational and training opportunities that foster intercultural and multicultural competence, acceptance of all, and partnering with every organizational member for their success.
The purpose of affirmative action and this compliance marriage to systemic organizational diversity allows organizations to capitalize on the multitude of talents an inclusive workforce provides. As Chancellor Wise of the University of Illinois Champagne-Urbana stated “without diversity there is no excellence”.
Compliance and systemic diversity efforts are an effective force to help all individuals rise as far as their talents and determination can take them. Affirmative action programs in particular, when properly designed and implemented, help ensure inclusion in employment, educational admissions, and the development of business opportunities and competitive advantage.
The membership of AAAED reflects our commitment to access and inclusion. We come from higher education, private business and the corporate sector, government, and non-profit. Our membership categories allow for interested individuals, students and retirees to join and share their voices and talents. And through the years we have developed an array of services that have grown in number, quality and excellence and focus on timeliness and relevance:
- A two-tier professional certification program
- Establishment of a separate sister entity, the Fund for Leadership, Equity, Access and Diversity (LEAD Fund) to sponsor and conduct research.
- Liaison with federal, state and local agencies involved with compliance regulations and oversight
- Webinars, training's, professional development institutes, on-site seminars and workshops that span the compliance realm of AA/EEO, civil rights
- investigations, including title IX for educational institutions, ADA, VEVRAA, the relevant employment legal landscape, diversity management, best practices in workforce recruitment and retention, and much more.
- Updates on legislation and court actions.
- Postings of relevant articles, editorials, opinions and essays
AAAED is therefore a professional development organization and has a Professional Development and Training Institute based on a collegiate model. It is also an advocacy organization and is at home with the civil rights community as well as the employer community. Hence, we support affirmative action as a policy issue. As we have stated: AAAED's "mission is to nurture understanding of and offer advice on affirmative action to enhance access and equity in employment, economic and educational opportunities." Diversity and Inclusion as an organizational philosophy and ultimate goal made manifest through policies and management processes is part of our mandate as well.
We teach and we advocate, working with not only the federal Equal Employment and Equal Education Opportunity agencies, including the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, the Justice Department, and the Office of Personnel Management (for federal EEO professionals), but we also communicate with the news media, the courts and state and local governments where necessary to educate about our work and our perspectives on civil rights compliance and policy issues.
In forty years our association has grown in the depth of its substantive benefits and breadth of its reach as an effective organization dedicated to the goals of equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion. By embracing our new title, the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity, we are demonstrating our commitment to the fundamental goals for which we were established in 1974 and our vision of the future in which all may enjoy the benefits of equal opportunity and inclusive excellence.