SFS Inclusivity Summary

19 January 2017

Dear SFS members,

Last fall, we organized an ad hoc inclusivity committee in response to SFS's 2017 annual meeting in Raleigh and the issues surrounding North Carolina HB2 (aka "the bathroom bill"). Fourteen SFS members volunteered to serve on this committee and we have had a series of conversations and worked on collaborative documents over the last three months. From that work, we have created a list of recommendations and suggested actions to address inclusivity and diversity at this year's meeting in Raleigh. While many of these recommendations are specific to the 2017 meeting, we also believe they could be adopted as permanent, society-wide changes.

We hope that this document serves as the beginning of a long and productive conversation about how to enhance inclusivity and diversity within our great scientific society. This is also intended to be a living document, so we welcome additional suggestions and ideas from the general membership. We look forward to discussing and making progress on these important issues in Raleigh and beyond!

Best regards on behalf of our committee,
Michael Bogan

Ad hoc committee members
Erin Abernethy Anna Boegehold Kate Boersma Gary Bucciarelli
Matthew Cover Brian Gill Tim Hoellein Dustin Kincaid
John Kominoski Jo Latimore Raphael Mazor Eric Moody
Alex Webster Megan Woller-Skar

SFS Ad Hoc Inclusivity Committee recommendations

Primary recommendations for SFS 2017

1. Offer diversity and inclusivity training options during the meeting

Ensure that these trainings or workshops are during lunchtime or regular meeting days (i.e. not pre-meeting) so that all who attend SFS can participate. Potential topics include allyship, safe(r) spaces, privilege, de-escalation, and implicit bias. Make sure that trainings are broad and include but also go beyond LGBTQ+ and HB2 issues. Consider using video or audio connections so that members unable to attend the meeting can participate. Perhaps offer badges to wear after folks complete workshops or training activities.

2. Identify inclusive businesses in Raleigh

Provide in the program or handout that goes with program, and is also available online, a list of places in Raleigh that identify as 'safe spaces', have gender neutral bathrooms, and have actively been fighting HB2 and supporting human rights and diversity causes in general.

3. Address the issues during the opening ceremony

Utilize whatever time is possible during the opening ceremony of SFS (ideally, 30 minutes) to directly engage in the issue. Ideas include having an external speaker address SFS on diversity and inclusivity issues generally and having someone local from the anti-HB2 movement address SFS on the issue. Also, hearing directly from affected or inspired SFS members would be great. One idea was to make a 10-15 minute video composed of short (30-60 sec) vignettes of SFS members directly stating why diversity and inclusivity matters to them as SFS members. How are they affected by this or other human rights issues and how can SFS help them feel more welcome in the society? Whatever the presentation is, ensure that assembled members learn about all the diversity and inclusivity events planned for the week, e.g. trainings, workshops, discussions, mixers.

4. Ensure access to gender-neutral bathrooms

Include map in the program with locations of all gender-neutral bathrooms in the convention center. Do the same for adjacent areas, businesses, and hotels when possible, especially when SFS events are held off-site.

5. Print SFS anti-discrimination policy in the program and display prominently on-site

Ensure high visibility of the issue in print via the program and also display it prominently in multiple places throughout the meeting space to help prompt informal conversations during the meeting.

6. Plan an official LGBTQ+ mixer

Informal mixers have been held during past meetings, but many of us on the committee were unaware of them. Print the mixer in the program alongside the schedules of other mixers. Consider holding the mixer off-site, ideally at a venue owned by a member of the LGBTQ+ community or a person of color. Announce mixer details during the general meeting.

7. Include a spot on the name tag for preferred pronouns that attendees can fill in

This would be optional for each attendee to fill out. Also, work with Utah State or other meeting facilitators to ensure that drop-down gender and honorific choices for online registration have flexibility for non-binary gender identities.

8. Highlight inclusivity efforts in the SFS newsletter, website, and social media platforms

Additional recommendations for SFS 2017

1. Plenary and special session speakers should represent the diversity of SFS

Planners should ensure that panels and speakers reflect the diversity of our organization, especially along gender, ethnic, and racial axes of diversity. As our organization is not as diverse as our national and global communities, efforts should be made to reach out beyond SFS to bring in external speakers that can provide new perspectives. Appointing a representative of the SFS diversity or inclusivity committees to serve on the planning committee can help ensure this happens. SFS should provide resources the planning committee to facilitate effective engagement with the local community (e.g., K-16 students, non-profits, etc.) and plan for inclusivity activities.

2. Suggestion box at registration desk

Have a box at the front desk for attendees to anonymously voice their concerns or make suggestions for enhancing inclusivity at SFS. Mention this suggestion box during the announcements each morning.

3. Create a "Listening Space"

Set up a place and time(s) where people are able to come voice their experiences, thoughts, and ideas on inclusion and discrimination without being challenged or debated. Open listening is a model that enables a diverse community to gather and share perspectives in response to a significant event. It allows people to speak their truth, listen, and be heard, without generating argument or assigning judgment. This is best accomplished in a setting with a trained facilitator.

4. Foster regional chapter meetings for states whose employees are required to boycott travel to NC

Some regions may not have established chapters yet, but this may be a good prompt for creating those chapters. SFS could provide more guidance and structure for creating regional chapters. The California chapter holds an annual one-day symposium that's incorporated into a regional water quality meeting—and the Pacific Northwest chapter also holds meetings-- we might consider using these as models for other regions.

5. Create SFS merchandise that directly addresses HB2 and/or inclusivity issues

Proceeds from the sales of this merchandise could go to LGBTQ+ rights working groups locally, like the LGBT Center of Raleigh. The Student Resources Committee is interested in helping.

6. Interface with local LGBTQ+ communities

Identify volunteer activities that attendees can pursue with Equality NC, LGBT Center of Raleigh, or other organizations. Invite members of Equality NC or other organizations to participate in discussions/workshops/panels. Provide links for SFS members to donate to local campaigns, LGBTQ+ youth shelters, etc.

7. Provide video linkup opportunities and encourage social media use by attendees to allow people who are unable or unwilling to attend the SFS meeting to remain engaged

Public employees of several states (e.g. California) are barred from traveling to North Carolina and other states with discriminatory laws, but the participation of these public employees is essential to SFS's mission. Hence, SFS should support video and streaming opportunities for plenaries, special sessions, and other events. Additionally, SFS should adopt a social media policy so that attendees can live tweet etc as appropriate and specify an opt-out option so that speakers can tell attendees not to post about unpublished data or sensitive content.

8. Ensure that members that are not allowed to travel to the meeting, or are boycotting the meeting, have a way to share their stories and reasons with SFS

9. Designate an SFS 2017 Twitter handle specifically to address inclusivity

10. Work with SRC members to give the mentors participating in student/mentor mixers language regarding inclusivity. Ensure at least some mentors can speak to diversity issues (e.g. navigating career in ecology as a member of an underrepresented group)

11. For future meetings, engage with local and national membership to survey for and gauge impact of local issues (e.g. HB2) in earliest planning stages of meetings