The greatest asset of the American Ornithological Society (AOS) is the diversity of our individual members, who represent many different backgrounds, identities, abilities, viewpoints, disciplines, and regions. Together, through the generous sharing of our knowledge, experiences, and time, we can advance a global perspective in ornithology. 

The AOS highlights, supports, and promotes our members, who conduct research on birds throughout the world. Supporting and giving a voice to ornithologists with diverse perspectives is key to fully exploring avian biodiversity and understanding and addressing the complex challenges of bird conservation. The AOS recognizes that organizational and societal barriers to participation and inclusion in ornithological activities exist, and we commit to addressing and dismantling the historic barriers that have prevented us from fully supporting diversity in our membership. By empowering and promoting historically excluded communities, the AOS will bring new creativity, effectiveness, and leadership to our work throughout ornithology. We are committed to creating and fostering opportunities for people with diverse backgrounds, traits, and perspectives to participate at all levels of the organization.

One key element of the AOS’s mission is to enrich ornithology as a profession. Embracing diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and justice (DEIBJ) as values and in our practices is critical to advancing our mission. We maintain that achieving DEIBJ requires an enduring commitment to a journey, not a destination. This long-term commitment is critical to creating and supporting an ornithological community that is safe and supportive, accessible to everyone, and provides an environment where all individuals can thrive. To that end, we commit ourselves to DEIBJ in our programmatic and communication priorities, vendor engagement, and internal organizational development. We will implement these commitments by providing educational and developmental opportunities for our members, implementing inclusive recruitment and support of staff, council members, and volunteers, and by fostering a diverse and inclusive culture throughout the AOS. To hold ourselves accountable, we commit to regularly assessing our progress and sharing results with membership. 

Integrating DEIBJ more clearly into our decision-making processes prompts us to ask new questions, collect informative data, and shift how we think about outcomes, progress, and success. Leading by example, the AOS aspires to make diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and justice core strengths among our membership.

Adopted by Council: 8 December 2022


Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging and Justice (DEIBJ) are terms we hear a lot about today, but what exactly do they mean for AOS?

Diversity: Diversity refers to the broad range of identities among individuals or groups. It includes characteristics such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, national origin and nationality, religion, abilities, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, veteran status, physical appearance, and the intersectionalities of these and other identities. It also refers to different ideas, perspectives, and values held by individuals within a group.  

Diversity comprises the variety among us and forms the basis through which we experience advantages or encounter barriers to opportunities. Different dimensions of diversity can be related to different types of barriers to inclusion.  

Equity: Equity means ensuring fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, which requires identifying and eliminating barriers that prevent the full participation of some groups. The principle of equity acknowledges that systematic barriers have historically underserved, excluded, and caused underrepresentation of some populations,  and addressing these imbalanced conditions is necessary to provide equal opportunities to all groups.

Equity refers to justice, and is distinguished from equality, which is defined as providing the same resources to all. Equity accounts for individual differences in needs, circumstances, and assets by removing some of the intentional and unintentional barriers that preclude full participation and success. Equity means allocating the resources needed to ensure everyone has access to the same opportunities.  Equity recognizes that advantages and barriers exist, including sexism, racism, ableism, and other systems of oppression.

Inclusion: Inclusion refers to the practice of creating an environment in which any individual or group will be welcomed, respected, supported, and valued as a fully participating member. 

An inclusive environment fosters a sense of belonging by centering, valuing, and amplifying the voices, perspectives, and styles of those who experience more barriers based on their identities.

Belonging: Belonging is the experience of feeling included, accepted, and valued.  Inclusion and equity should create a sense of belonging, where a person is accepted and welcomed as they are, with all aspects of their identity valued.  Belonging should reflect the results of our work to create a more welcoming community.

Justice: Justice is the quality of being just, impartial, or fair, which requires dismantling the barriers to resources and opportunities in society so that all individuals and communities can participate and engage fully as equal and supported members of a community.