ZTA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan

Zeta Tau Alpha is committed to building a nobler womanhood in the world by creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive sisterhood.

In summer 2019, National Council formed an Inclusion Task Force to determine next steps in ZTA’s inclusion efforts. Based on those recommendations, the Inclusion Committee became a permanent Special Committee composed of alumnae, collegians, former National Council members, current National Council members and staff who represent the many communities of our members. The committee members live in different regions of the country, come from various backgrounds and bring to the table unique understandings on inclusion that will further sisterhood.

ZTA’s Inclusion Philosophy is rooted in both the Seeking Understanding that We Might Gain True Wisdom Key Value and Belonging, one of the Five Areas of Sisterhood. These two principles serve as the main components of ZTA’s diversity, equity and inclusion plan. The audiences or parts of the ZTA experience that relate to each component appear underneath those headers.

The following plan is just the beginning of the journey as we continue to grow and evolve in this space. As ZTA continues its inclusion efforts, the Inclusion Committee will be thoughtful in reviewing and updating next steps and sharing progress on an ongoing basis. We’re proud to share the work ZTA has already started as well as future plans.

Seeking Understanding

ZTA’s Seeking Understanding that We Might Gain True Wisdom Key Value comes directly from The Creed of Zeta Tau Alpha. This Value looks like being open to new ideas and perspectives; seeking out opportunities to interact with and learn from people of different backgrounds; and being comfortable discussing differing values and beliefs. This Value guides ZTA’s work to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive environment for its membership.

Completed

  • With professionals in the field of diversity, equity and inclusion, ZTA developed peer-facilitated workshops focused on inclusion and belonging called My Sister, My Responsibility®: Seeking Understanding that are available to both alumnae and collegians. These workshops address the topics of personal and social identities, genuine conversations, microaggressions, cultural appropriation, power and privilege, and how to support sisters of all different backgrounds. These workshops are also available online and in print for any fraternity/sorority chapter or campus community to access and facilitate.
  • The Fraternity evaluated the criteria for Collegiate Crown Chapter, the award given to collegiate chapters for attaining a standard of excellence each year, and added a requirement to facilitate at least one inclusion program annually. Chapters could facilitate a Seeking Understanding workshop, attend a community event or host a discussion with a professional in the field of diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • The organization provided a virtual module on diversity, equity and inclusion, which addresses the topics of identities, power, privilege, oppression, bias, allyship, active listening and self-care to all collegiate members. All members of a chapter’s Executive Committee are required to complete this virtual module prior to formal officer training.
  • ZTA updated its House Rules template to include language holding members accountable for creating and fostering an inclusive environment.

In Progress

  • The organization is updating the Zeta Is Forever New Member Experience to emphasize the importance of building an inclusive environment and increasing belonging among new members. ZTA is also creating additional opportunities for discussions on diversity, equity and inclusion topics as well as how to build deep, lasting relationships.
  • ZTA is executing a diversity audit of membership at all levels and partnering with an outside firm to conduct a thorough review of the national organization and provide recommendations on offering a member experience rooted in Seeking Understanding and building Belonging.
  • The organization is assessing and updating collegiate policies and processes, including National Policies, the Visitation Policy, judicial procedure and chapter bylaws, to be more inclusive and eliminate bias.

Completed

  • ZTA created and required collegiate chapters to appoint a member to fill the Inclusion Chair officer position on Program Council. The Inclusion Chair’s goal is to create a sense of belonging for members of the chapter and educate them on diversity-and-inclusion-related topics. Each chapter received a detailed description of the chair’s duties, and the Inclusion Chairs are receiving ongoing training to equip and prepare them to lead.

In Progress

  • The organization is updating the collegiate officer application and interview process to include questions related to creating a more inclusive environment within collegiate chapters.
  • ZTA is updating all collegiate officer job expectations to include building an inclusive environment as a part of their duties and responsibilities.
  • The organization is reviewing collegiate officer training materials to ensure officer roles keep diversity, equity and inclusion in mind throughout the year and updating the online modules as well as general sessions and officer tracks for Officer Leadership Academies.
  • ZTA is reviewing the plan for communication related to diversity, equity and inclusion incidents to further support and educate chapters.
  • The organization provided a virtual module on diversity, equity and inclusion, which addresses the topics of identities, power, privilege, oppression, bias, allyship, active listening and self-care, to all collegiate members. All members of a chapter’s Executive Committee are required to complete this virtual module prior to formal officer training.

Completed

  • With professionals in the field of diversity, equity and inclusion, ZTA developed peer-facilitated workshops focused on inclusion and belonging called My Sister, My Responsibility®: Seeking Understanding that are available to both alumnae and collegians. These workshops address the topics of personal and social identities, genuine conversations, microaggressions, cultural appropriation, power and privilege, and how to support sisters of all different backgrounds.
  • Alumnae chapter leaders received a virtual module on diversity, equity and inclusion. This module includes education on identities, power, privilege, oppression, bias, allyship, active listening and self-care.
  • The Advisor Academy now includes diversity, equity and inclusion training.
  • Alumnae Crown Chapter, the award given to alumnae chapters for attaining a standard of excellence each year, now requires alumnae chapters to facilitate an inclusion program at least once per biennium. Chapters could facilitate a Seeking Understanding workshop, attend a community event or host a discussion with a professional in the field of diversity, equity and inclusion.

In Progress

  • As a part of the national virtual learning sessions required for alumnae chapter leaders, ZTA is offering diversity, equity and inclusion training focused on understanding generational differences.
  • The organization is reviewing the process to identify potential ZTA Special Initiates to encourage a more diverse group of nominations as well as ensure new initiates receive education on ZTA and create a sense of belonging after joining.

Completed

  • ZTA provided its volunteers a virtual module on diversity, equity and inclusion, which addresses the topics of identities, power, privilege, oppression, bias, allyship, active listening and self-care. All National Officers, including board members, are required to complete the module within a leadership cycle.

In Progress

  • The organization is developing a comprehensive diversity, equity and inclusion education plan for members of the three national boards—National Council, the Fraternity Housing Corporation and the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation—to increase their knowledge and understanding of how to create a more inclusive and equitable environment through leadership and national-level decisions.
  • ZTA is enhancing diversity of national volunteers on all levels, from local advisors through national board members, by developing a more inclusive pipeline. The organization is building a system that creates more equity and access in the process to become a national volunteer through creating a volunteer interest form and application and appointment process.
  • ZTA is reviewing and updating the national volunteer Oath of Office to include language that relates to their active role in creating, expanding and supporting ZTA’s commitment to enhancing an environment that is inclusive of all sisters.

Completed

  • ZTA provided its volunteers a virtual module on diversity, equity and inclusion, which addresses the topics of identities, power, privilege, oppression, bias, allyship, active listening and self-care. All National Officers are required to complete the module within a leadership cycle.
  • The organization has started educating national volunteers on ZTA’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts to further their understanding of their role in creating a more inclusive environment for the ZTA membership. This education will continue on a regular basis.

In Progress

  • ZTA is enhancing diversity of national volunteers on all levels, from local advisors through national board members, by developing a more inclusive pipeline. The organization is building a system that creates more equity and access in the process to become a national volunteer through creating a volunteer interest form and application and appointment process.
  • ZTA is reviewing and updating the national volunteer Oath of Office to include language that relates to their active role in creating, expanding and supporting ZTA’s commitment to enhancing an environment that is inclusive of all sisters.

Completed

  • ZTA created a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Coordinator staff role to focus on these new initiatives and incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion into all facets of ZTA.
  • Staff, including Leadership Consultants, receive diversity, equity and inclusion training on a regular, rotating basis to better serve the ZTA membership.

In Progress

  • ZTA is examining the selection and training of International Office staff, including Leadership Consultants, and focusing on ways to develop a diverse pool of candidates during the hiring process, reduce bias in the interview process and develop belonging during onboarding.
  • The organization updated the process for hiring local House Directors, including asking questions that relate to creating a more inclusive environment in ZTA chapter facilities. ZTA is updating the training process for House Directors to provide diversity, equity and inclusion modules as it relates to an inclusive work environment.

Building Belonging

Through ZTA’s research, we know Belonging is the most important component of ZTA’s Five Areas of Sisterhood. Belonging focuses on creating a sense of connection that goes beyond friendship, where sorority sisters describe each other as family and describe ZTA as a home away from home. As we look to expand our efforts in creating a more inclusive, diverse and equitable environment for our membership, we hope to build a stronger sense of belonging among members.

Completed

  • The organization implemented an intentional, ongoing content plan for celebrating members, their backgrounds and their identities on ZTA’s public social media platforms. These posts also educate all members active on social media about different cultures, religions and backgrounds. ZTA’s social media accounts aim to provide a space for sisters to share who they are and to see how Zeta Tau Alpha is a part of their personal stories. Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter to see more.
  • ZTA made a public statement against racism. As part of that message, the organization shared a robust anti-racism blog post containing resources enabling members to educate themselves and take action.

In Progress

  • The organization is increasing accountability for furthering inclusion by dedicating space within Themis magazine to share updates and education as it relates to ZTA’s inclusion plan and efforts.
  • ZTA is fostering a greater sense of belonging and understanding among collegiate and alumnae chapters by developing a best practices guide for creating social media posts that increase opportunities for diversity, equity and inclusion education and highlight the diversity within their own chapters.
  • The organization is developing a plan to celebrate and highlight other fraternity/sorority organizations, including historically black and other culture-based organizations, which includes potentially highlighting Founders’ Day celebrations and organizational backgrounds.
  • ZTA is creating a protocol enabling all members to report bias-related incidents to increase accountability and maintain an inclusive community for members. A bias-related incident is any discriminatory or hurtful act that appears to be motivated by identity.
  • The organization is exploring its history to contextualize its past as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion practices with the intent of publishing findings in Themis magazine.
  • ZTA will highlight individual member stories as part of its content on social media and in publications.

Completed

  • ZTA updated its website and social media channels to increase accessibility for people with hearing and visual impairments.
  • Other accessibility updates included adding subtitles for all videos shared in educational and promotional settings so everyone can experience them.

In Progress

  • The organization is building and promoting a mentor program for underrepresented collegians to find and create a greater sense of belonging, build a stronger network of support and develop more leadership opportunities within ZTA.
  • On Facebook, ZTA is creating affinity groups based on member identities to provide space for all members to feel like they have a community to thrive in within ZTA.
  • The Fraternity is assessing and updating event registration forms to take into consideration ability and access with the aim to create a positive experience by meeting the needs of all attendees.

Completed

  • In partnership with the Foundation, the Fraternity created need-based scholarships for the 2020-2021 academic year to assist ZTA collegiate members experiencing a direct financial impact from COVID-19 and ensure these members are able to continue to access the benefits of membership in ZTA.
  • ZTA developed and shared a financial transparency resource that explains in detail national and local fees, how the Fraternity and chapter use them and the benefits they return to both the in-person and virtual membership experience.
  • The organization created a virtual learner status for members who chose to remain away from campus due to COVID-19. Members had the opportunity to apply for this virtual membership status, which removed board and/or parlor fees where applicable.
  • ZTA reviewed each collegiate chapter budget for the fall 2020 semester. Prior to those changes, the organization asked each Treasurer to work with her local leadership team and Advisory Board to submit a survey outlining campus guidelines and chapter plans for the upcoming semester. The Secretary-Treasurer and audit team at International Office analyzed this information to build a budget and member billing that supports each individual chapter’s goals.

In Progress

  • The organization is evaluating ZTA Foundation giving opportunities to be more inclusive and thoughtful in enhancing the diversity, equity and inclusion landscape within ZTA-specific programming.
  • ZTA is updating the criteria for scholarships to include anti-discrimination language and ensure there is no bias in the selection process.

Completed

  • The organization hosted a virtual presentation for collegiate officers, advisors and volunteers on the role of inclusion in the recruitment process, including providing a facilitator guide for attendees to use within their chapters to discuss their role in creating an inclusive recruitment experience.
  • ZTA incorporated a module focused on personal identities and recruitment conversations in staff-led collegiate recruitment workshops.

In Progress

  • The organization is evaluating and updating the collegiate guide to recruitment to focus on increasing access, education and best practices as it relates to creating a more equitable environment for both Zetas facilitating conversations and potential new members who are going through Primary Recruitment or Continuous Open Bidding.
  • In 2019, ZTA reviewed the Legacy Policy, which currently states a legacy will be invited back to one invitational event provided she meets the membership requirements of the chapter. Should she not meet the requirements (e.g., GPA, good standing with the university, connection with the chapter, etc.), the chapter is not required to invite her back after the first round. An appointed task force will continue to evaluate the policy to remove barriers for potential new members who are first-generation college students and for those who come from families with no ties to fraternity and sorority life.
  • ZTA updated its General Manual to reflect the current role of the recommendations process. A recommendation is not required for a potential new member to be eligible to join Zeta Tau Alpha, and chapters are not required to acknowledge or give preferential treatment to potential new members with recommendations.