An Update on Our Progress

To achieve the Fraternity’s Vision, Pi Beta Phi believes an organization-wide Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is imperative. A sense of belonging is not enough; the ability to fully belong must be intrinsic to our sisterhood. Pi Beta Phi will demonstrate a commitment to DEI through a focus on five key areas.

ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

Establishing a Vision and Plan for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)
As a vision for Pi Beta Phi’s efforts to create a space where all members feel they belong, Grand Council has endorsed a Commitment to DEI Statement. The statement defines the desired future for our Fraternity:

As true friends, we honor the uniqueness of each sister. We empower one another, through meaningful relationships grounded in empathy. We promise an inclusive sisterhood, where every member feels welcome, is supported, and knows she belongs.

As the first fraternity for women, we own our role and responsibility in the fraternal movement. We recognize our power and privilege as college-educated women, to work for an equitable society. We commit to develop the servant leaders our diverse world needs.

To help fulfill this goal, a conceptual framework has been developed to align and mobilize the organization in a common direction on larger DEI-focused strategies. Fraternity leaders are currently working to define clear goals and establish a timeline for the work.

Turning to Expert Pi Phis
Pi Beta Phi’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee (DEI AC) was announced in August. The three undergraduate members and nine alumnae were selected to serve on the committee from a large number of members who expressed interest. The role of the DEI AC is to be a collaborative resource by offering advisement to Fraternity leaders. In October 2020, some members of the DEI AC joined Grand Council and Headquarters staff leaders in two half-day strategic conversations where an in-depth analysis was conducted of the Fraternity’s current situation and opportunities. The insights gained from these conversations were used to inform the development of the Fraternity’s Commitment to DEI statement and develop strategies to focus the Fraternity’s efforts. Committee members have been integrated into projects across all specialty areas of Pi Phi. 

Prioritization of DEI Efforts at Headquarters
At Headquarters, staff responsibilities have been reprioritized to focus on DEI efforts in all operational areas. A considerable effort has been made to create a holistic, comprehensive approach where DEI is interwoven throughout all areas of the Fraternity. A significant amount of staff time has focused on supporting these important initiatives, training and communicating with the membership. The Fraternity’s Human Resources Director has sought insight from the DEI AC on opportunities to enhance current practices. A focus of the team working to recruit and onboard the next Executive Director is considering candidates’ experience to support Pi Beta Phi’s DEI priorities in such a way that our organization can build upon the current momentum.

Promoting Pi Phi
Marketing Pi Beta Phi in a way that reflects the current and desired diversity of our organization is important. There is an understood need to carefully strengthen the representation of diverse populations in Fraternity marketing materials and publications. Chapters and clubs have been and will be encouraged to actively be part of the solution. 

Telling the Story of Stronger Together
The Fall 2020 issue of The Arrow explored how Pi Phi is a stronger sisterhood when we work to ensure a diverse, equitable and inclusive membership experience and what every Pi Phi can do to move our sisterhood forward in our efforts.

Data Collection
Demographic information regarding key aspects of diversity was once a gap in Pi Beta Phi's assessment efforts. Collecting demographic data is key to indicating inclusivity, equity and accessibility and can help the Fraternity make more informed decisions through understanding important aspects of who Pi Phi is today. The 2020 version of the Annual Member Evaluation, administered to all initiated collegians each Fall, included an expanded demographic section as will the Member Satisfaction Survey, which surveys alumnae starting in mid-March.

Exploring our History
The Fraternity has begun a project to explore how the history of Pi Beta Phi policies and practices, has impacted the diversity within our sisterhood. This project is intended to educate our membership, acknowledge the past and provide clarity for our future. The end format has yet to be determined. However, the project will examine the historical contexts of Pi Beta Phi's founding in 1867 and the impact today, the roles of faith and religion in Pi Beta Phi, membership selection policies and practices, the Fraternity’s existence as a predominantly white organization, and issues of gender, identity and sexual orientation. The project is expected to be a multi-year effort.

Member Development

Educational Programming
An update of Pi Beta Phi’s Member Development Program, Leading with Values®, launched in January 2021 with overall programmatic outcomes and seminars more aligned with Pi Beta Phi’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), to enhance intentional, purposeful conversations about Pi Beta Phi’s six core values. In addition, the Critical Conversations Speakers Series program, Every Act of Yours, was revised to allow the program to adapt more easily to a DEI-focused chapter conversation.

Understanding Implicit Bias and Its Impact on the Member Experience
Pi Beta Phi launched DEI pre-recruitment training series on July 28, 2020, just ahead of the Fall recruitment period. All chapters were expected to engage in the training prior to recruitment. Two self-guided programs explore identity development and the relationship between power and privilege. A third program assists chapters in discussion surrounding implicit bias. The final program is designed specifically for Alumnae Advisory Committee (AAC) members and focuses on the importance of language and the understanding impact of words, especially as mentors and advisors. Each training session is accompanied by an assessment which has illustrated substantial knowledge growth as well as overwhelmingly positive remarks on the relevancy of content and satisfaction of the programs. Chapters will be expected to engage in similar training experiences each year.

Phasing in Additional Resources
To aid members in their personal member development, the Fraternity has and will continue to make DEI resources available on our website. In addition to the key terms and definitions and a resource list supplied by the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee, a new Inclusive Language Guide has been added into the Resource Library for member use. Pi Beta Phi will continue to phase in additional DEI focused resources as we support member development in this area.

Increasing Fraternity Officers Knowledge
As part of the Fraternity’s Officers Workshop, a biennial meeting for elected and appointed officers serving Pi Beta Phi above the local-level, DEI experts Christina Parle, M.S. and Dr. Suzette Walden Cole helped Fraternity leadership understand both the humanistic and business case for making DEI a top priority for Pi Beta Phi.

Leadership Capacity

Officer Recruitment
Pi Beta Phi’s Leadership and Nominating Committee (LNC) has responded to member feedback for increased transparency in the process of identifying and selecting Fraternity officers and a greater focus on ensuring diversity within the leadership ranks. Pi Phi’s officer nominations process was heavily promoted this past fall, which included a Ring Ching Chat with LNC Chair Schabahn Day. Members of the LNC and DEI AC collaborated to identify opportunities to recruit more diverse officer candidates and to outline qualifications that would demonstrate a candidate’s ability to actively support Pi Beta Phi’s DEI goals. The LNC has taken great care to listen to any member who has been willing to offer feedback on potential Fraternity leaders, discussed any candidate’s DEI-related experience and remained focused on elevating to the top of the candidate pool those members who show evidence of servant leadership traits. In fulfilling the slate for Grand Council and elected Directors, which will be announced in March 2021, LNC will work to conduct the slating process through the lens of Pi Phi’s commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Two New Mandatory Chapter Officers, Ten New Fraternity Officers all to Focus on DEI
At this summer’s convention, delegates will vote on legislation proposed by Grand Council requiring all chapters elect two new chapter officers: a Vice President Inclusion and a Director Community Inclusion. The new officers will be supported by an additional member of the Alumnae Advisory Committee (AAC). The Fraternity will also be revising the role of the current Grand Vice President Community Relations, who will now serve as the Grand Vice President Inclusion. This Grand Council member will oversee the Fraternity’s existing Community Relations team as well as a new Specialty Director, titled Director Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and nine new Inclusion Specialists. A webpage has been developed to explain these changes.

This legislative proposal follows a biennium-long pilot program to incorporate a Director Diversity and Inclusion (DDI) into the Chapter Leadership Team. In January 2020, 20 chapters opted to participate in the pilot program. Over the summer and an additional 60 chapters were welcomed to pilot the office for the Fall 2020 term.

Training Our Volunteer Leaders and Staff
A request for proposals is in final draft to identify a professional partner to help provide continued DEI education and training to Grand Council, Pi Beta Phi Foundation Trustees, Fraternity Housing Corporation (FHC) board members, Fraternity officers and all Headquarters staff. Those seeking more information or wishing to express interest in the request for proposals are asked to email Human Resources Director Melissa Nagus.

Growing capacity for DEI initiatives within Headquarters staff has been listed as a priority by the current Executive Director and will be further considered by the next Executive Director for whom the search is underway.

POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

Changes to Recruitment Practices 
Grand Council made the decision to revise Fraternity policy and eliminate all courtesy invitations afforded to legacies during the membership recruitment process, effective Fall 2021. At this summer’s convention, Grand Council will propose legislation which will revise the Constitution and Statutes to remove any reference to special consideration for legacies as well as eliminate sponsorship as a requirement for membership and the process by which alumnae offer recommendations for Potential New Members to chapters. This includes the elimination of the Recruitment Information Form (RIF), the document by which alumnae offer sponsorship and recommendations. Simply put, a legacy recruitment policy, by nature, is inequitable. The requirement for sponsorship or necessity of an alumnae recommendation creates a barrier to joining Pi Beta Phi. Therefore, these practices are inconsistent with Pi Beta Phi’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. An informative webpage has been developed to share more and answer frequently asked questions.

This follows action by Grand Council issued for the 2020-2021 academic year which gave chapters a choice in how special considerations for legacies were managed in the recruitment process (learn more here) and Grand Council’s sponsorship of all Potential New Members, not otherwise sponsored.

Membership Affordability
The Fraternity has identified a forthcoming effort to examine the costs of membership which may preclude some from joining or from maintaining their membership. This important issue is also a topic under review by the National Panhellenic Conference on an industry-wide level.

COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS

Making an Impact Through Literacy Service
Pi Beta Phi has identified literacy programs to be closely related to our DEI work. Intentional steps to build connections between the two have already been taken in collaboration with our literacy partner, First Book®. Short-term opportunities to think differently about Pi Beta Phi’s literacy programs for the most impact are coming to fruition as part of this spring’s Fraternity Day of Service efforts. Pi Beta Phi is proud of its more than 100-year-old commitment to literacy and recognizes that long-term strategy to evolve literacy programs will have clear alignment with Pi Phi’s Commitment to DEI.

Highlighting Pi Phi’s Diversity of Social Media
The Fraternity has worked to evolve its social media presence to illustrate a more inclusive member experience. Campaigns have been created to highlight special holidays, weeks, and months, as an opportunity for educating the membership and to highlight diverse voices in Pi Phi’s membership.

New Affinity Groups in the Works
In partnership with the DEI AC, a framework for designing member affinity groups to bring together members with similar lived experiences is in development. Further details will be forthcoming on this exciting engagement opportunity.

Supporting National Panhellenic Conference Work
In August 2020, the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) announced the creation of an Access and Equity Advisory Committee to help identify reforms to eliminate structural and systemic barriers to sorority membership. Pi Beta Phi has been encouraged by this committee’s work and will partner with NPC to ensure sustainable change.

Last updated: February 23, 2021


Questions?

It’s understandable that you have questions about Pi Phi’s DEI efforts. We have prepared a list of Frequently Asked Questions.

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Pi Phi History

In 1867, 12 courageous young women at Monmouth College came together to form a sisterhood rooted in shared experiences, enduring values and Sincere Friendships. Today, more than 150 years and 300,000 members later, we continue to celebrate our founders' vision as sisters of Pi Beta Phi.

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