COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - On June 11, USA Artistic Swimming (USAAS) publicly pledged to become a stronger ally in the fight for equality. As an organization, we recognize and acknowledge the lack of diversity, equality and inclusion in the sport. Since that time we have assessed changes that are necessary so we can follow our motto and Move As One towards a racially equal and diverse organization at all levels of USAAS.
Below is an update on the progress regarding our initial steps from the previous pledge to work toward a more diverse and inclusive organization for all members. Please review the bullet points below:
- The Board of Directors recognized the topic of diversity, equality and inclusion as a sensitive issue and prioritized the initial steps required to improve USAAS. The VP DEI will be elected during the September convention. USAAS is currently accepting nominations. Nominees must be members of USAAS.
- An interim DEI Chair and Taskforce was developed to implement and complete the job description for the VP of DEI, committee codes/procedures, established a Protest Policy and Fair Hiring Procedures to be added to USAAS Rulebook. Items have been completed and are awaiting approval by the BOD.
- A Diversity Open Forum call for People of Color was held to allow athletes, parents, and coaches to speak openly of racial injustices and inequalities experienced within our sport. This initial conversation between the organization and the members provides a basis for rules and protocols to be established to prevent further discrimination in the future.
- The CEO and Interim DEI Chair consulted with a Diversity and Inclusion leader to determine the necessary changes in infrastructure of the organization to create a more inclusive environment for all members of USAAS.
- The BOD has approved the addition of a VP of Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion. This person will serve on the BOD to oversee the development of programs that educate, equate, and include members without regard to gender, race, ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status, geographical location, beliefs, or levels of mental or physical ability.
- Continual research for methods to remove barriers and improve the accessibility of members to USAAS at all levels.
- Our Director of Education and Interim DEI Chair have been working closely with the USOPC on weekly calls with Ashland Johnson, a Civil Rights Attorney and Founder of Inclusion Playbook. The plan for the future includes implementing many practices and policies that are currently being used by the MLB and other major league sports to create a diverse, equal, and inclusive environment for all.
We want to thank USAAS members for supporting the necessary bold steps of change and look forward to their continued participation as we move forward as organization that prioritizes a sport that does not allow anything less than equality for all. We want to continue this work and welcome all support and suggestions to better USAAS for all our members. (just a reminder our work is not done yet)