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Privacy Perspectives | Introducing the IAPP’s Diversity Principles Related reading: IAPP statement on racial injustice


This week marks the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. In Minnesota and around the world, remembrance and reflection are being combined with an understanding that our work to erase racism and racial violence is far from complete. 

Last year, I shared a statement from the IAPP on racial injustice. I expressed solidarity and grief, outrage and shame. I also shared how diversity and inclusion are critical to the mission of the IAPP:

Diversity and inclusion are central to the values and mission of the IAPP. As a global professional association, we serve a broad and growing community around the world. Our members form a spectrum of national, racial, ethnic, religious and sexual orientation backgrounds, speak in dozens of languages, and have widely divergent political views. Ensuring that those voices — all of those voices — are represented and heard is critical to the vibrancy and depth of our professional community.

At the IAPP, we took the events of last year as a call to action, an opportunity to reexamine and improve diversity and inclusion within the organization itself and, more broadly, our professional community globally. 

Today, I write to share our progress.

In June of last year, the IAPP board of directors created a special committee on diversity. This committee was tasked with assessing the state of diversity and inclusion at many levels — the IAPP as an organization, our conferences, volunteer leadership structures, the profession broadly and the pathways into the profession. The work of the committee included multiple meetings and a series of focus group conversations with IAPP members from around the world. To all of the IAPP board members and volunteers who joined in this effort, we express our gratitude. Your professional organization and our field will be better thanks to your contributions. 

We learned much from the work of this committee. We heard directly from members around the world that racial and ethnic diversity is a complex topic that, much like privacy, varies greatly depending on culture, context and location. Our focus group participants shared deeply personal stories of systemic racism and bias that continue to affect their lives. We researched the myriad privacy laws that set strict guidelines for gathering data that might help us understand and improve diversity in our midst (our former board member, Eduardo Ustaran, CIPP/E, penned a powerful call to action to regulators on this point recently). We dug deep into the many ways that diversity and inclusion can be understood.

From this work, the board and staff of the IAPP have emerged with a greater understanding of the moral and strategic imperative to continue to promote diversity and inclusion at the IAPP and privacy community. This understanding is captured in a new set of Diversity Principles that we are making public today. These principles will help guide our actions in the coming years. They make clear that the IAPP sees diversity and inclusion as critical to its mission to define, promote and improve the global privacy profession. We plan to post and share these principles broadly and use them as a lodestar as we develop leaders, staff, speakers and pathways upwards within our profession. 

We are also announcing a number of new initiatives to give life to our Diversity Principles:

  • Diversity in Privacy Section: For many years, the IAPP has supported a diversity networking group at our conferences to connect our members. We have built upon the good work of this networking group to now create a Diversity in Privacy Section at the IAPP. This new section will convene regularly and help develop programming, networking and leadership opportunities at the IAPP and global privacy community. 
  • Diversity in Privacy Mentoring: Through the leadership of IAPP board members Dominique Shelton Leipzig, CIPP/US, and Stephen Reynolds, CIPP/US, the IAPP launched a monthly mentoring program for members. These informal sessions are intended to support and promote professional pathways for our members. 
  • Diversity in Privacy Advisory Board: The IAPP created an advisory board to support our work on diversity and inclusion. This group, made up of a broad array of leaders from our membership, will guide programming for the Diversity in Privacy Section and serve as a pipeline for future IAPP leadership. 
  • The Westin Scholar Awards: Last year, the IAPP launched the Westin Scholar Awards to promote privacy scholarship in higher education. We are delighted to share we have recognized many students in the past months, and many more will be celebrated in the coming years. But we also recognized these awards should serve as a tool to enhance diversity and inclusion within the profession. To that end, the IAPP has been working with historically black colleges and universities in the U.S. to identify and reward promising students in privacy programs. 

The tumult of the past year has been disorienting at times. The pandemic, social unrest and political violence have all challenged us to look deeply at our values to find stability and purpose. The pain of too many gruesome and unjust deaths in America’s Black community is profound. We hope to draw lessons from these experiences for our professional community, including by more closely focusing on and improving diversity and inclusion within our organization and profession worldwide.

Our work is certainly not complete; it is just beginning. Over the past year, we have learned that sometimes it is important to direct our attention to the discomfort that emerges from learning of discrimination and injustice within the professional community we so deeply love. So please email us at to share your best ideas and tell us how the IAPP and the privacy profession can live up to our mission and Diversity Principles.  

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

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  • comment Deb Gray • May 27, 2021
    Thank you for doing this work!
  • comment Renard Francois • Jun 30, 2021
    I applaud your efforts and look forward to working with you.