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Approximately ten months ago, the APA-Kansas Chapter requested other Chapters to support an amendment to the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) Code of Ethics, Rules of Conduct which simply states “We shall not unlawfully discriminate against another person”. The Kansas Chapter proceeded to implore the AICP Commission to consider amending the clause after members attending an Ethics session thought we (as planners) should raise the bar on anti-discrimination.

After the APA-Kansas Chapter brought this issue to the attention of the Texas Chapter, we continued to investigate by collecting additional data and seeking direction from other AICP members including Carol Barrett, FAICP and AICP Commissioner for Region III Silvia Vargas, AICP. In our research, we have learned that other partner organizations have updated professional ethical codes to become more inclusive. For example, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct includes the following rule, “Members shall not discriminate in their professional activities on the basis of race, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, or sexual orientation”. In addition, the American Society of Civil Engineers Code of Ethics includes the following: “Engineers shall, in all matters related to their profession, treat all persons fairly and encourage equitable participation without regard to gender or gender identity, race, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation, or family, marital, or economic status.”

The summary of our research is detailed within the letter below. Similar to the State of Kansas, in the State of Texas it is lawful to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.  Late last year, our Chapter’s new Diversity Committee conducted a survey, which had over 600 responses. This survey showed that more than one-fourth of respondents occasionally or frequently experience discrimination or disrespect in their workplace because of their race, age, ethnicity, nation of origin, religion, disability, gender, or sexuality; and over 33% of respondents occasionally or frequently witness this type of discrimination or disrespect of colleagues in their workplace.  We will be releasing all the data collected with this survey over the next few months, but these initial figures are staggering.

Our board considered and discussed this request on June 1, 2018, August 17, 2018, October 17, 2018 and January 25, 2019 and voted to support the APA-Kansas Chapter’s request for an amendment. On February 5, 2019, we respectfully asked the AICP Commission to consider updating the anti-discrimination clause in the AICP Code of Ethics, Rules of Conduct in an effort to support more inclusivity and seek social justice.

We understand that the APA Board of Directors and the AICP Commission has directed a strategic effort to revise the Code of Ethics, so this will hopefully be an opportunity to further promote diversity and inclusion by enhancing the anti-discrimination clause.

Letter to AICP Commission from Texas Chapter

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you to the APA-Kansas Chapter in leading this effort. 

Doug McDonald, AICP
Texas Chapter President
president@apatexas.org