by Susan Barnes and Peter Batra
The Director’s Advisory Committee on Community and Diversity (DACCD) is an elder among campus-wide DEI groups. Somewhere in DACCD’s archives, there is a Word document (a .doc to be precise) from May 2002 outlining the committee’s charge: “The Director and the ISR Policy Committee establish a Standing Committee on Diversity, immediately and without limitation of term. The Committee is charged to … (1) raise the consciousness of all employees of the value of diversity in everyday work settings; (2) change practices in work settings, research programs, centers and the Institute that detract from the positive gains from a diverse workforce and the valuing of diverse experience; (3) set practical timetables for achieving short-term and longer-term goals via policies and activities; and (4) work collaboratively and in a complementary fashion with center-level initiatives that address diversity.”
The wording has changed a bit in the last 19 years, but DACCD’s members–staff and faculty from across ISR–remain committed to building a supportive and inclusive workplace. DACCD’s efforts toward this mostly happen in its subcommittees, which are driven by members’ expertise and interests. Currently, there are eight active groups:
- Perspectives plans and executes programs and events designed to build a spirit of community at ISR, raise awareness about the research that happens here, and foster respect for one another’s diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. Perspectives also oversees ISR’s Common Interest Groups, open to all community members keen on sharing their love of everything from knitting to reading and discussing books on social justice topics.
- Membership assists in determining the schedule for rotating members on and off DACCD and helps assure that membership is balanced with regard to representation from ISR centers and job families, and in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability status, religion, sexual orientation, and family status.
- Accessibility works to make ISR’s physical and virtual spaces accessible to all people regardless of their ability status.The group is currently offering a webinar series on accessibility protocols and strategies on how to a create supportive environment for all who encounter ISR and its research.
- The ISR Community and Diversity Lending Library’s purpose is to make materials and resources related to DACCD’s mission easily available and accessible to the staff of the Institute. Before we went remote, this primarily meant keeping track of the book kiosks at the Thompson and Perry buildings. Now the group makes recommendations, shared in the ISR’s Weekly newsletter, on digital materials that address DEI topics. Recent selections focused on the MLK Day theme, “Where do we go from here?” and children’s books to celebrate Black History Month.
- Communications develops and maintains a website and messaging to keep the ISR community informed about events and activities of DACCD and to raise general awareness of issues of diversity.
- Social Justice recently organized a webinar “Mental Health and Protest: In the time of COVID-19 Webinar,” continue to work on developing ISR-specific antibias training materials, and started a soon-to-be-available series of videos where staff members explain how bias has affected them.
- Budget works on drafting and monitoring DACCD budget for each fiscal year.
- Community Guides help build a sense of connection within the ISR for new hires by establishing and expanding networks, increasing access to resources, sharing information/knowledge, and having fun. To achieve this, two to three new hires are paired with an ISR Community Guide (a current member of the ISR community). The groups get together to chat and (in pre- and post-COVID times) go to lunch a few times over the course of a year.
Since much of DACCD’s work develops in a bottom-up fashion, we welcome comments from the wider ISR community. Please reach out to the current co-chairs, Susan Barnes (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Pete Batra (email@example.com), with questions regarding DACCD’s mission, suggestions for future activities, or to become involved.