Good News from the USAF Working Group

We are pleased to share with you some news about the work the USAF Working Group has been doing behind the scenes for the last few months.  

In January 2020, the USAF Board of Directors approved a proposal from the Working Group to highlight and promote issues around equity and inclusion within its organization. Sharon Dominguez was appointed as the Working Group Chair and joined by Sylvie FirestoneHarvey KonigsbergJulia FreedgoodArturo Peal, and Christine Wong.

Mission and Goals

What is the Working Group’s mission? 

To foster and promote inclusivity and diversity within the USAF, and to provide USAF Instructors with tools and information for addressing these issues within their dojos.

What are the Working Group’s goals? 

1. Increase recognition that gender equality and unconscious bias are valid issues that need exploration in the USAF.

2. Create lasting programs that identify, acknowledge, and improve the culture of inclusion and representation of women, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA members within the USAF structure, as well as in USAF activities and seminars. 

3. Identify the needs of dojos, if any, to promote growth and inclusion.

4. Help address membership retention issues that may arise from conscious and unconscious bias.

5. Collaborate with the Board, Technical Committee, Administrators, key members, and specialists to fulfill the above objectives in 2020 and beyond. 

What are some concrete results the Working Group has accomplished so far?

  • Gender and equity training has been provided and completed by the entire Board, Technical Committee members, the Technical Advisor, Administration, Consultants, and the Working Group.
  • A program of training on gender equity and implicit bias (sexual harassment prevention training) is currently being organized for all dojo-cho and chief instructors to complete in 2021 as part of the membership guidelines and renewal process.
  • Gender and equity discussions open to all attendees at the USAF annual summer camp was planned but postponed due to COVID-19.
  • Plans to hold a “Meet & Greet” during summer camp to introduce the Working Group and to mingle with members of the Aikido community was curtailed due to COVID-19.
  • Collaborated with the Board and Technical Committee to produce Aikido Online classes for adults and kids, featuring instructors within the diverse USAF community, and globally transmitted live on the USAF FaceBook page.
  • A series of online conversations focusing on Gender, Equity, Race, and Implicit Bias have been initiated for USAF dojo-cho and instructors. The initial roundtable discussion on Race & Bias was well attended with over 80 participants.
  • Sharon Dominguez was appointed as a senior delegate and the USA representative of the International Aikido Federation (IAF) Gender Balance Working Group and is working with people globally on these issues.

What are the Working Group’s next steps for 2020 and beyond?

  • Partnering with the IAF to produce Zoom classes featuring women from multiple aikido organizations within the US.
  • Organizing community outreach initiatives such as The Dojo-cho Video Conversations about the effects of COVID-19 on USAF dojos, comparing strategies for member engagement, online presence, and dojo reopening procedures.
  • The next Dojo-cho Video Conversation as part of our series, Equity, Inclusion, and the Future of Aikido will address bias as it relates to gender and sexuality.
  • Planning climate surveys for USAF dojos to use internally as a tool to assess the environment within their dojo. Request that the data be shared with The Working Group, to measure the progress of these initiatives.
  • Continue to explore ways to celebrate our diverse community and to help support our instructors and membership.

We will stay in touch as we continue our work, and welcome your comments and feedback along the way!

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