Mediate.com would like to celebrate the International Ombudsman Association's 1,000th Member!
The International Ombudsman Association (IOA) is a member-led, professional association committed to supporting ombuds worldwide. Formed in 2005, we are one of the largest international associations of professional ombuds practitioners in the world, now representing more than 1,000 members across the globe.
View the infographic below to learn more about the people who make up our association, where they come from, and what their work looks like, and be sure to read our latest blog post for more information about our association.
What Is IOA & Who Are IOA Members?
The International Ombudsman Association (IOA) is a member-led, professional association committed to supporting ombuds worldwide. Formed in 2005, IOA is the largest international association of professional ombuds practitioners in the world, now representing more than 1,000 members across the globe.
Being a part of IOA provides constituents with access to a community of peers, mentor opportunities, best practice resources, free webinars, discounts for trainings and CO-OP Certification, communication resources, and more. (Learn more about membership.)
IOA offers four categories of membership: Full Member, Student Affiliate Member, Retired Member, and Distinguished Emeritus Member. Currently, more than 80% of IOA members are full members.
What Do IOA Members Do?
The majority of members are professional ombuds practitioners, most often referring to themselves as an ombuds, ombudsman, or ombudsperson. Ombuds offer confidential, neutral, informal, and independent guidance to people and organizations worldwide. These ombuds work in a variety of sectors including academic (such as higher education and K-12 schools), corporate, government, healthcare, non-profit, dispute resolution, external contract ombuds, and more.
Almost 70% of members report that they are currently practicing and most members (67%) are organizational ombuds, though we do have members who are classical ombuds, advocate ombuds, legislative ombuds, and more.
What Does the Ombuds Profession Look Like?
At the most fundamental level, an ombuds is someone who assists individuals and groups in the resolution of conflicts or concerns. Ombuds serve as a safe, off-the-record resource for employees, students, faculty, managers, executives, and citizens seeking ways to identify and address workplace issues and other concerns. They use their unique skill set to help people develop options for addressing these issues separate from, but often complementing, the work of HR, legal, and compliance.
While the ombuds profession dates back more than 200 years, implementation of the ombuds practice is not yet widespread. In recent years, many organizations have been looking for trusted resources to help them navigate today's complex social and work environments. Ombuds are trusted navigators who can help inform organizations and empower them to makes decisions that will have lasting and positive impacts on their constituents.
Learn more about ombuds on the "What is an organizational ombuds?" page.
Where Do IOA Members Come From?
IOA members come from countries around the world including Argentina, Bahrain, Cote D'Ivoire, Egypt, Greece, Ireland, The Republic of Korea, Romania, Turkey, the United States of America, Zimbabwe, and many more.
IOA's headquarters is located in Seattle, Washington, USA, and the majority of courses, conferences, and networking events take place in the States. However, IOA is working to identify ways to increase the participation and engagement of international members across IOA programs and leadership as part of Goal 4 of the 2021-2024 Strategic Direction.
IOA has an active International Outreach Committee that is working to engage ombuds professionals throughout the world with particular emphasis on those working outside of the United States.
What Does it Mean to Be an Aspiring Ombuds or an Emerging Ombuds?
Currently, about 20% of IOA members identify themselves as "aspiring ombuds" or someone who has less than one year of experience as a practicing ombuds. Another 40% of members state that they have less than three years of experience in the ombuds field: these ombuds are generally referred to as "emerging ombuds".
As recognition of the ombuds profession continues to grow worldwide, IOA has become a leading provider of ombuds training, a strong advocate for the ombuds profession, and the largest online network for practicing ombuds to seek support and resources.
Unlike many professions, the journey to become an ombuds, ombudsperson, or ombudsman does not traditionally follow a clearly defined path. The global ombuds community is filled with professionals who come from a wide variety of backgrounds. IOA members report having a wide range of academic credentials and professional experiences. Read about IOA members and their stories as told through the IOA Ombuds Journey Project.
What Does IOA Do for Its Members?
The association promotes and advocates for the ombuds profession, provides a gathering space for like-minded individuals, provides training, and establishes Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics and best practices through research and resource sharing.
Here are just a few of IOA's recent accomplishments:
- The release of the IOA Online Learning Center. Currently, there are more than 500 users, the majority of which are IOA members!
- Hosts more than 40 archived IOA Webinars
- Has hosted more than 8 Virtual Foundations Courses
- Held its first fully virtual Annual Conference
- Submitted a formal comment on the Title IX Regulations in the US
- Created a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB)Task Force
- Mentoring Program: More than 140 IOA members are currently enrolled in the mentor program
Who Leads IOA?
IOA leadership consists of a 15-member volunteer Board of Directors (elected by the membership), and Committees and Task Forces composed of volunteer members (with Chairs appointed by the Board). Member volunteers who have expertise and passion for specific areas of practice support various IOA strategic initiatives.
The intent of IOA's leadership is to ensure integrity and transparency in all facets of leadership and management of the Association, to foster communication and information sharing among all components of the Association's leadership, and to foster and promote opportunities for the membership to be informed and engaged in the work of the Association. Members interested in volunteering can check out opportunities and submit a volunteer interest form!