January 29, 2021

International Ombudsman Association to Drop '-man' From Name

In an email to members yesterday, the IOA Board of Directors announced that the organization would be renamed "The International Ombuds Association." The move will bring IOA into line with most practitioners and other Ombuds organizations that use gender neutral language, including the California Caucus of College and University Ombuds, the Association of Canadian College and University Ombudspersons, and the European Network of Ombuds in Higher Education. IOA's decision also follows a rule change in the U.S. House of Representatives that will end its use of "Ombudsman." Many international and classical Ombuds organizations, on the other hand, continue to use "Ombudsman."

Here is the full text of the IOA announcement:
IOA Is Set to Become
International Ombuds Association
A Name Change Is on the Horizon
Dear IOA Members & Supporters,
Recognizing that words matter, that impacts matter, that diversity, inclusion, and belonging are to be supported and celebrated; the International Ombudsman Association shall therefore change its name to the International Ombuds Association and take the necessary steps to effect this change.
As a part of the implementation of the 2021-2024 Strategic Direction Goal 4, 4.7. Develop a process for consideration of a possible name change for the organization, the IOA Board of Directors voted to approve the name change at its January 2021 meeting.
Along with the name change, IOA will take steps to replace the term ‘ombudsman’ with ‘ombuds’ in all IOA communications and documents such as the Standards of Practice, Ethical Principles, and Bylaws.
This decision comes after numerous Board discussions and other ongoing conversations among IOA members, committees, and staff members during the past few years. Overwhelming support for an organizational name change was also evident in responses collected from members via the recent Standards of Practice and Ethical Principles survey.
The movement to eliminate gender-specific terminology in professional settings began decades ago. The debate today is focused on ensuring that current brands accommodate gender fluidity, rather than simply updating terms considered exclusionary of one gender or another. Moreover, researchers have found that outdated professional names may serve to dissuade people from pursuing a certain career if a job is described in gender-specific terms.
The decision to change IOA’s name is made with full knowledge of the origins of the term “ombudsman” and various international preferences for and against the ongoing use of the term. Changing the name to “ombuds” is not a repudiation of the profession’s past or traditions. Fortunately for IOA, unlike other organizations, the change is not triggered by a need to address a past wrong or re-brand following a crisis but is a positive step toward a more impactful, relevant, and resonant brand. Furthermore, this name change does not signal a broader effort to dictate how members identify themselves or their offices. We expect professionals and programs worldwide will continue to use the terms that best reflect their personal and organizational preferences.
We hope you will join the IOA Board of Directors and staff in celebrating this decision. Please stay tuned for the roll-out of new branding which will include a refreshed logo and revisions to organizational communications and documents in the Spring/Summer. This change may also lead to a corresponding change for CO-OP® and JIOA as well. We will keep members informed on future developments.
As always, the IOA Board welcomes member feedback. Please send your comments and questions to info@ombudsassociation.org.
IOA Board of Directors

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