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ALGA, Looking Back and Moving Forward: A View into Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
By Jamie Amos

From an idea in 1988 to the present, the Association of Local Government Auditors (ALGA) has provided an avenue for local government auditors to meet, communicate, and collaborate on common issues and challenges, and to uphold industry best practices and professional standards. With such a rich history of service to the public, in 2017 ALGA recognized there was room for growth when it came to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). The board completed an assessment to review the current state of DEI within the organization. A member questionnaire was developed to survey a sample of the then current 2,000 members. With 243 members responding, they found, among other things, that 27 percent of the members were recruited from universities with over 41 percent not having a focus on diversity when recruiting. A majority of the respondents were part of a shop with 6 to 10 members, identified as straight white married women with an age range of 35 to 44, and had not been diagnosed with any disability or impairment. One member who joined in 1992 kept every ALGA quarterly and compiled the following demographic information: Since 1992, ALGA has had 86 board members total, with 7 reporting their race as African American, 3 as Latinx, 2 as Asian, and 1 as Native American. All board presidents have been white except for 1 reported as Latinx, 1 reported as Native American, and 1 reported as African American. Two Presidents were reported as members of the LGBTQ community. 
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ALGA created an implementation plan to tackle the DEI matter. From January through July 2017, ALGA collaborated with Rhodes Perry Consulting to develop and create an implementation plan to manage and sustain a diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic framework. Key ALGA leaders participated in a full-day session to craft and build consensus around this strategic framework. In the development stage, a comprehensive DEI policy statement, climate assessment, and implementation blueprint was created. The work associated with the ALGA DEI strategic framework set out to accomplish three key goals:

  1. Establish a DEI baseline and climate assessment through a member survey and interviews with select ALGA members;
  2. Clarify ALGA’s DEI vision through a strategic planning session with ALGA board members and select committee chairs; and
  3. Craft an implementation and sustainability plan including robust recommendations based on the research and analysis conducted.

Additionally, the work accomplished generated the following recommendations for the board to consider as it planned to implement and sustain its DEI Framework:

  1. Finalize the organization's DEI vision statement, and craft a non-discrimination policy;
  2. Develop a DEI education and communication plan for members of the organization;
  3. Establish a DEI committee to implement and sustain the work; and
  4. Work towards ensuring that the board, committee assignments, and other leadership positions generally reflect the membership and the industry.

As part of ALGA’s process to develop a DEI strategic framework, a series of qualitative interviews took place that included board members and committee chairs. The interviews were conducted to gain a better understanding of the leadership’s vision of DEI. Some of the findings included becoming more conscious of diversity to recruit a more diverse group of people and provide training and opportunities to increase diversity in leadership. Another finding was that the leadership board should reflect its membership: including size, geographic location, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical abilities, and professional standards followed, among others.

The respondents also gave suggestions as to how ALGA can improve upon its commitment to DEI. Some suggestions included: developing a diversity plan with concrete and achievable benchmarks to which the organization is held accountable; hosting webinars; tracking demographic information over time; searching for diverse speakers; and clearly defining what diversity, equity, and inclusion means to the organization. Additionally, respondents suggested increasing the amount of advertisement regarding ALGA’s commitment to these issues, developing affinity groups, including workshops on implicit bias, and providing more trainings on every platform for diversity, equity, and inclusion subjects.

Since then, the organization has made tremendous strides to ensure everyone feels welcome. With the creation of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee in April 2018, ALGA has made significant progress toward its newly revised vision and mission. The vision is to have an inclusive and thriving community for all local government auditors working together, making a difference for the public good. The mission of ALGA is to empower our local government auditing community through excellence in advocacy, education, communication, and collaboration to protect and enhance the public good while embracing diversity, equity, and inclusiveness. With the guidance of the DEI Committee ALGA developed the new vision and mission statements and a non-discrimination policy approved by the board in September 2018. A multi-year, draft strategic work plan with specific activities to advance DEI is also being developed along with surveys to help ensure conference speakers and ALGA leadership reflect its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

One of the highlights for the DEI Committee and ALGA was the integration of DEI throughout the 2019 conference. Starting with a DEI ice breaker where attendees, board members, and committee chairs along with sponsors were given an opportunity to network and get to know each other. We provided an option for members to identify their gender on their nametags and recognized the traditional territories and peoples that are indigenous inhabitants of the City in which the conference was held during the welcome. We participated in a general FAST session where several DEI Committee members and non-committee members provided thoughtful insight into audits that reflected a DEI theme along with insightful and touching personal stories that those audits focused on, which offered a human touch to the work we do. We provided a concurrent session focusing on creating a DEI tool which audit shops can use as a lens to identify audits or portions of audits that can be DEI focused.

Additionally, the DEI Committee provided background support to the conference committee to identify many areas where diversity, equity, and inclusion could play a role. The DEI Committee plans to continue the hard work that has been accomplished over the past year into the future: creating a DEI tool and training plan, continuing the publications of articles and webinars, helping to create a DEI award to honor audit shops who are going beyond the bounds, along with many other endeavors to drive DEI. With the many strides ALGA has made, they are committed to being a leading example that embracing our differences makes us stronger.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Jamie Amos is a Senior Performance Auditor for the City of Atlanta. Currently the Vice Chair of ALGA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, he strives to do his part in making the world a place where authenticity brings us together and our differences are seen as strengths. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi, a MBA in Marketing from Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia and a PhD in Finance/Accounting from Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. In his spare time, Jamie loves to play tennis, watch horror films and eat ice cream.