Paper No. 57-6
Presentation Time: 2:30 PM-6:30 PM
ENVISIONING THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF PROFESSIONAL SOCIETY STAFF FOR SUSTAINING ANTI-RACISM WORK IN THE GEOSCIENCES
Racism and its expressions undermine the rigor, integrity, and vibrancy of the scientific community and threaten the equitable and inclusive advancement of scientific research and discovery. The geosciences continue to experience some of the highest levels of racial disparity among STEM disciplines, and data collection since 2013 at the Geological Society of America (GSA) shows membership growth has remained stagnant within racial and ethnic groups marginalized in STEM. A pod of GSA staff participating in the Unlearning Racism in Geoscience (URGE) project examined how staff at professional societies can help counteract the effects of racism. The pod aligned the URGE curriculum and the Spring 2021 GSA Diversity Working Group Report to GSA Council to develop recommendations for GSA’s Executive Director that would bolster weaving Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) into the workplace culture for staff. The pod identified priorities for facilitating dialogue among staff to engage with GSA’s JEDI-related goals and for bridging gaps between how the Society addresses members and staff in its approach to JEDI. After introducing the pod’s goals to GSA’s Executive Director, the URGE pod began collaborating with other staff to assist with JEDI-related input on specific projects. Tangible outcomes from this work include providing input for the job description and hiring process for GSA’s new Head of Diversity and submitting recommendations that centered race-conscious thinking in the JEDI framework for a proposed GSA Connects 2021 event. The pod’s work revealed that building relationships for professional society staff to engage more directly in member-driven JEDI efforts can improve the long-term progress and sustainability of institutionalizing anti-racism and cultural change at professional societies serving the geosciences.