The ISR Fall DEI Town Hall was held on October 24th and attracted such a great crowd that we had to bring in extra chairs – thank you for all who attended! The event opened with a presentation (intranet link) by Sarah Burgard to thank the year one implementation committee for its work and introduce the evolving year two implementation plans. We discussed the year two implementation structure, comprised of five key groups. We have developed four working groups – for staff, community engagement (the longstanding Director’s Advisory Committee on Community and Diversity – DACCD), educational programs (including summer programs and pre-and post-doctoral training programs), and scientists/faculty. These groups are charged with focusing on key strategic objectives central to their constituencies. They work in collaboration with the ISR DEI committee that includes all ISR Center Directors and Center Administrators, representatives from ISR Human Resources and Communications, ISR DEI implementation leads, and the co-leads of each of the four working groups. We extended the number of ISR community members engaged in implementation work to take advantage of their relevant expertise and commitment to particular aspects of our ISR DEI plan, and to encourage greater collective ownership and shaping of this ongoing work.
The presentation also highlighted accomplishments from the year one implementation. Major accomplishments include our the increased DEI presence/resources on the ISR intranet and internet, with a new anonymous reporting portal, revision of recruitment processes to enhance inclusion and broaden applicant pools, training on-site at ISR in DEI awareness and principles of implementation (intranet link), new DEI relevant events and opportunities to engage, and an accommodations and accessibility policy for events (intranet link).
For a major part of the Town Hall, DACCD members helped to organize conversations around three questions that we discussed in a small table setting. Tables shared some of their key ideas in a report out and individuals wrote their thoughts on cards that were then collected. Some key themes emerged from these discussions and responses.
First, we discussed “the best thing about working at ISR”, with the most common answers reflecting attendees’ appreciation of the mission and work done at ISR – social science in the public interest – and the people and community we have created. Other “best things” included the entrepreneurial, collaborative environment, flexible working conditions and the professional development opportunities.
We also discussed how we could build on these “best things” to meet our DEI goals at ISR. Some suggestions were to better promote the DEI-relevant work that many ISR projects are doing, and to work even harder to make DEI goals a part of our culture and systems. Participants echoed the importance of equity in opportunities for mentoring and professional development, and of bolstering skills needed for collaborative and communicative working environments.
When we turned to the question of what was preventing us from being as productive or personally successful as we could be, participants identified the double-edged sword of the decentralized structure at ISR, and that lack of connections across projects and groups who might better collaborate for greater success. These and other areas for improvement are being considered by the DEI working groups and DEI committee – many are in alignment with existing strategic objectives in our ISR DEI plan. We are discussing ways to workshop ideas with the greater ISR community to continue to develop innovative approaches to these challenges.
The DEI Implementation Leads and the ISR DEI Committee would like to thank the members of DACCD who served as invaluable facilitators for the Town Hall discussion.