One of the most important channels for APL diversity is the growing number of Affinity Groups. These self-organized clubs welcome and encourage participation by all staff members, and Laboratory management provides strong support for these activities, including active participation. Groups such as the African American Culture Club, Asian American Heritage Club, and Hispanic Awareness Club allow staff members to increase their understanding of each other and explore their differences in a positive environment, and the open membership philosophy of the groups, where staff members are encouraged to participate regardless of their own heritage, facilitates this process.
As one staff member pointed out, “Learning about and establishing a rapport with staff members from cultures other than our own helps us realize the benefit of their contributions. Removing barriers to communication and interaction allows an appreciation for a variety of perspectives.”
African American Culture Club
The African American Culture Club celebrates and builds on the rich resource of APL’s diversity of people and cultures, particularly people of African descent. The group is an important part of an ongoing multicultural effort to foster a professional community that reflects unity, creativity, and shared responsibility.
Allies in the Workplace
Allies in the Workplace is an advocate for a non-discriminatory and diverse working environment, specifically for issues of importance to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community and supporters. The group fosters community and sharing through networking opportunities, social and outreach events, and via an internal online site. Meetings are open to all APL employees.
APL Veterans Club
The APL Veterans Club brings together the many veterans working in different positions across APL who have unique experience and expertise from their time in the military. The club is interested in tapping into the skills of veterans and also explores what vets can do for each other, and for the Lab.
Asian American Heritage Club
The Asian American Heritage Club (AAHC) is open to all APL employees. Its purpose is to enhance the Lab’s workplace experience by providing a cultural connection to staff members of Asian descent and those who are interested in Asian culture. It provides resources for leadership and professional development and hosts activities to promote awareness of Asian culture among APL employees. In addition to other activities, AAHC holds monthly Culture Exchange events with presentations on Asian traditions and Asian culture.
Hispanic Awareness Club
The Hispanic Awareness Club plans and promotes activities to raise the level of awareness among APL employees of the contributions of Hispanic staff members and the Hispanic culture in general. Club members organize and present a range of activities to celebrate the national observance of Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 to October 15.
Johns Hopkins University Black Faculty and Staff Association
The Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA), a Johns Hopkins University-wide organization, promotes and enhances identity, a sense of community, and professional welfare and development among Black faculty, staff, and students. The organization brings together and works with people of color within the broad community of Johns Hopkins institutions. APL has a caucus of staff members within the BFSA.
SWE@APL supports women engineers and other technical professionals at APL. The group partners with the Baltimore-Washington Section of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), a not-for-profit educational and service-oriented organization that empowers women to succeed and advance in the field of engineering, and to be recognized for their life-changing contributions as engineers and leaders.
Young Professionals Network
When some of APL’s youngest staff members were looking for a way to bring together recent hires spread across more than 30 buildings and 10 departments, they organized a recent-grads network for new employees. It offered the chance to meet other recent grads in their age group, find out about local activities outside APL, find roommates, socialize, and build friendships.
But many young staff members, no longer fresh out of school, still wanted an easy way to be involved in social activities with their Lab peers. So two engineers organized the Young Professionals Network (YPN). Without a lot of membership requirements, the YPN keeps its organization loose and flexible. The group doesn’t have a president or a designated social coordinator. Instead, different people organize events so that the responsibility doesn’t rest on a small group of people. While events span a range of activities from pool to miniature golf, one of their big adventures was a skydiving event last year.