Frequently Asked Questions about Pi Beta Phi’s Commitment to Diversity, EQUITY, and Inclusion

It’s understandable that you have questions about Pi Phi’s DEI efforts. We have prepared the following frequently asked questions. If you still have questions, please contact

In August 2019, the Fraternity formally prioritized diversity, equity and inclusion as a key aspect of its strategic plan to help achieve the plan’s three long-term goals: lifelong, loyal members, a sustainable organization and broad resources to ensure our sisterhood. Tactical work outlined in early Fall 2019 included a critical look at gaps in inclusion practices, exploration of existing programs to ensure opportunities were inclusive to diverse experiences, examination of recruitment practices supporting a more diverse membership, and review of financial practices to increase accessibility for today’s college student, among other efforts.

Civic unrest across the United States in the summer of 2020 spurred by the tragic murders of people of color, led many companies and organizations – including every National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) organization as well as the National Panhellenic Conference itself – to make statements regarding the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion. The fraternity and sorority landscape has seen major shifts in institutions acknowledging and correcting longstanding issues with diversity and inclusion. Pi Beta Phi heard from thousands of members who implored the Fraternity to use its position and voice to speak against racism. More than 4,000 Pi Beta Phi members (representing a range of Pi Beta Phi chapters across seven decades) demanded action through a single petition alone, and another 2,000 issued comments directly to the Fraternity. The Fraternity issued a statement and action items on June 5, 2020, which leadership felt aligned with the vision of Pi Beta Phi. Since then, several initiatives have helped to demonstrate the elevated priority given to diversity, equity and inclusion within Pi Beta Phi.

Pi Beta Phi leadership approaches strategic goals with intention and purpose as leaders should for a 153-year-old organization. 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, which was used to inform the development of the Fraternity’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion statement and develop strategies to focus the Fraternity’s efforts. Pi Beta Phi will strategically focus on organizational culture, member development, leadership capacity, policies and procedures and community connections to help fulfill our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Beyond the strategy, our goal is simple: to be a sisterhood that embraces equity and inclusion so that every member feels they belong. The result is a more diverse and stronger organization.

In December 2020, Grand Council endorsed a statement to define a desired state for our Fraternity:

Pi Beta Phi’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
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.

Pi Beta Phi is centered around the concept of belonging, where members come together to celebrate shared core values and support one another. It’s an important place to start conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion – and typically, when presented as a goal, every member understands and appreciates this. Belonging is the desire to form and maintain lasting, positive, and significant interpersonal relationships where one can be authentic and part of something bigger than themselves. The Fraternity has worked to define belonging as well as additional key terms important to understanding DEI efforts.

No. As our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion states, we desire to honor the uniqueness of each sister, to empower one another, to build meaningful relationships grounded in empathy and to be a sisterhood where every member feels welcome, is supported, and knows she belongs. As we work to realize this goal, we hope we become more racially diverse, but we also hope to become more diverse in areas other as well. The world is diverse and getting more diverse every day. If we are not striving to be a more inclusive sisterhood, we will be unable to fulfill our Vision. 

Of the members we heard from over the summer 2020 months, the loudest voices seeking the Fraternity to take action came from collegians and alumnae initiated within the last 10 years. In fact, 1 out of every 5 collegians signed the petition asking Pi Phi to take a stand. Through a series of Fraternity-hosted Listening Sessions, the Fraternity confirmed diversity, equity and inclusion will be an issue of relevance for future generations of Pi Phis. Diversity is a minimum expectation to many of today’s collegians. Well more than half of Pi Beta Phi chapters made a statement ahead of the Fraternity last summer and many others were waiting to follow the Fraternity’s lead. This is not to say that for alumnae, issues of diversity, equity and inclusion are not important. An equal number of alumnae made their voices heard, urging Pi Beta Phi to do more. The Fraternity heard from alumnae with initiation dates as early as 1957. 

Those wishing to financially support the Fraternity’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts may do so through a special designated leadership fund held by Pi Beta Phi Foundation

You can read about Pi Beta Phi’s progress on these action items here.

As a membership organization, listening to the member is important. As a sisterhood, listening to our sisters is critical. Pi Beta Phi invites members to offer feedback on any issue facing the Fraternity, at any time. 

In the summer of 2020, nearly 2,000 members issued comments to the Fraternity through phone calls, emails, an online comment form and social media. Every one of these members received a personal response from a Fraternity representative. More than 4,000 members signed petitions issued to the Fraternity. The Fraternity held a total of 17 Listening Sessions between June 22 and June 30, 2020, to allow members to express their opinions directly to Fraternity leadership in a small group setting. For each session, a Grand Council member or the Executive Director, one to two director-level volunteer(s) and a Headquarters staff facilitator were present. Themes from all member feedback forums have been continuously integrated into the work of the Fraternity. 

In addition to more official communications efforts, Fraternity officers and staff hear regularly from members. Officers and staff provide members’ perspective to teams leading DEI initiatives.

All Pi Beta Phi leaders are expected to demonstrate commitment to, and champion, the Fraternity’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Read more about the most recent actions taken to equip Pi Beta Phi’s leadership with needed skills, as well as updates on other Pi Beta Phi diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, here.

Pi Beta Phi has and will continue to seek the support, guidance and advice of DEI advocates, leaders and experts – within and outside of the organization, including the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee – to help inform decisions and actions related to DEI. On several occasions, the Fraternity has contracted DEI experts Christina Parle, M.S. and Suzette Walden Cole, Ph.D. to develop and deliver educational content to Fraternity leaders, Alumnae Advisory Committee members and collegians. For example, these partners developed and facilitated a pre-recruitment training series for collegians and Alumnae Advisory Committee members which explores identity development, the relationship between power and privilege, implicit bias and the impact of our words. 

Pi Beta Phi’s Inaugural Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee (DEI AC) was announced in July 2020. The three undergraduate members and nine alumnae selected to serve on the committee were selected from an incredible number of members who expressed interest. The committee’s role is to advise Grand Council and staff leadership on Fraternity matters related to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

At this time, the Fraternity has not developed a Headquarters staff position to focus solely on the Fraternity’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. However, several staff members’ roles and responsibilities have shifted to support this organizational priority. Growing capacity for DEI initiatives within Headquarters staff has been prioritized by Grand Council and as strategic goal for the Fraternity.

Yes. Pi Beta Phi acknowledges our history, that which is recorded and shared by members, as foundational, contextual knowledge that must be explored and understood in order to achieve our Vision. The Fraternity has begun a project to explore Pi Beta Phi policies and practices, within the context of history, that have impacted the diversity within our sisterhood. 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, Pi Beta Phi’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. 

As a 153-year-old organization, undoubtedly there are times in our Fraternity’s past where we wish our beloved organization would have made a different decision or acted differently. We must own the parts of our history we’re not proud of, just as we own the aspects of our history for which we are proud. We must learn from our history and always look to grow and evolve.

Pi Beta Phi acknowledges our history as an organization rooted in the Christian faith.  Pi Beta Phi will examine its traditions, ceremonies and practices through a lens of diversity, equity and inclusion to be responsive to the needs of the membership.

The Fraternity has identified literacy programs to be closely related to our DEI work, as have many of our members. Pi Beta Phi is proud of its more than 100-year-old commitment to literacy. Last November, the Fraternity engaged in a conversation with long-time literacy partner First Book about opportunities to think differently about some of Pi Beta Phi’s literacy programs in the hopes of having greater impact, specifically noting Pi Beta Phi and First Book’s philanthropic focus on underserved populations. 

Historically, Pi Beta Phi has not tracked this type of demographic information about its members. However, members were asked to indicate their race and ethnicity in the Annual Member Evaluation for this first time in the Fall of 2020. The Annual Member Evaluation is administered to all initiated members each Fall. In addition, collegians were invited to indicate citizenship, gender, sexual orientation, military affiliation and religious affiliation which are typical demographic questions for organizations operating within higher education. Demographic-related questions are optional, and responses are confidential. In March and April 2021, the Fraternity will administer an every-four-year Member Satisfaction Survey to alumnae, and the same demographic questions will be asked. This data is vital to helping the Fraternity make more informed decisions. The Fraternity will evaluate opportunities to share key findings from the surveys with the membership as appropriate.

Pi Beta Phi has shared resources integral to our work and intended to develop the intellect and integrity of our membership here. We are always working to expand the list and encourage all members to share resources. Additionally, the Fraternity has worked to define key terms important to understanding the Fraternity’s efforts. 

For several years, Fraternity leaders have been in conversation about the relevancy of our practices to today’s college student and today’s college campus. Fraternity leadership specifically examined recruitment practices which are exclusive and create barriers to membership. Grand Council has outlined changes and proposed legislative changes to recruitment practices which are summarized here.

Grand Council has drafted a legislative proposal to be considered by delegates at the 2021 Convention to add officers with specific diversity, equity and inclusion responsibilities to the chapter leadership team and Fraternity’s International officer team. Learn more here

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Pi Phi By the Numbers

More than 150 years ago, 12 courageous young women at Monmouth College came together to form a new organization grounded in the values of Integrity, Lifelong Commitment, Honor & Respect, Personal & Intellectual Growth, Philanthropic Service to Others and Sincere Friendship. Learn more about Pi Beta Phi with some fast facts about our sisterhood.

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