I am excited to share AIP Publishing’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives that are beginning to take shape as we move through the second half of 2021.The DEI program has been growing organically at all levels of our organization over the past year, rising out of our increasing discomfort with the structural inequities and disparities embedded in cultures across society. We are now building on these efforts to hasten transformation in our publishing and workplace cultures, and aspire to:
- debunk biases that marginalize people because of their race, ethnicity, gender, and other factors;
- eliminate barriers to publishing for researchers across the globe and enable equitable access to resources; and
- embrace diverse perspectives and value differences that strengthen the publishing pipeline, research communities, and society at large.
This momentum has led to the decision among AIP Publishing leadership to formalize our organizational accountability on DEI issues. Our work is just beginning, but I’d like to share some thoughts on our approach, some important first steps, and where we are headed, as follows.
– Alix Vance, CEO AIP Publishing
AIP Publishing serves the charitable, scientific, and educational objectives of the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and its Member Societies through our nonprofit publishing program. Our support of the mission of the federation makes it possible for a wide array of physical scientists around the world to access services, tools, and a platform to expand the impact and reach of their work, and ensures that their research findings are presented, promoted, and permanently available. We connect authors and readers to a living legacy of published science and a global network of peers and institutions. And yet we recognize that not all individuals or institutions in the physical sciences are afforded equal access to resources, support, or opportunities, even though empirical evidence shows that diverse perspectives lead to better solutions, decision-making, and outcomes.
Determined to address long-standing barriers and biases inherent in the sciences, in 2019 AIP’s Board of Directors adopted a strategic framework for the federation that “advances the physical sciences with a unifying voice of strength from diversity.” AIP and its partners pledged to “lead the physical sciences community toward an impactful understanding of how to be more welcoming to, and supportive of, the full diversity of physical scientists throughout their [education and] careers.” Among their many initiatives, the ground-breaking TEAM-UP project is addressing the underrepresentation of Black and African Americans in undergraduate physics and astronomy programs, by identifying systemic causes and putting forth recommendations and an implementation plan to reverse the trend.
As part of the AIP community, AIP Publishing is well positioned to advance and accelerate these goals, by leveraging our access and engagement with authors across the physical sciences. The work we do will complement AIP’s efforts to make the educational pipeline more welcoming, diverse, and inclusive of underrepresented voices. In doing so, we will reinforce AIP Publishing’s role to serve a broader global community of working physical scientists who better reflect the communities in which we live and work. The expression “many hands make light work” not only describes a smart strategy, it also supports the essential meaning of diversity, inclusion, and equity.
An important initial focus of AIP Publishing’s DEI program is to collect race/ethnicity and gender data and assess the current demographic composition of our author and editorial base and editorial boards, as well as those of our partner societies. This is a huge, complex undertaking, and so AIP Publishing has joined the Framework for Action, a coalition formed by Royal Society for Chemistry, to learn from and collaborate with a wide spectrum of organizations.
Our intention is to use the data we collect (anonymized and presented only in aggregate to protect individual privacy) as a baseline to set goals that we can measure against on a regular basis. Because we believe that being transparent with the results — even if they don’t measure up — will drive change, AIP Publishing is making our own demographic data public as we gather it on our workforce and author and editor bases. We hope that this will encourage our partners, vendors, and other organizations to do the same.
We are currently implementing a new policy to address the needs of transgender, non-binary, or other researchers who change their names. This move is a first among many we anticipate undertaking over the coming years to be more inclusive of diverse needs.
For a cultural shift to be lasting, it should come from the “inside-out.” AIP Publishing has an inclusive and progressive culture, but this doesn’t mean we don’t struggle with many of the same issues that are evident elsewhere in our society.
An internal survey we conducted earlier this year revealed characteristics we want to fix:
Our workforce is overwhelmingly white (>69%), and while our leadership includes more women than men, only one-fifth are people of color. Because AIP Publishing is a small organization and has low turnover, any lasting shift in company demographics will take time to implement. But there are many things we can do to make incremental progress, such as revamping our recruitment practices, investing in individuals through coaching, training, competitive compensation, and addressing flexibility needs – all of which will be examined as part of the DEI initiative.
Although 84% of staff reported a sense of belonging, less than two-thirds (59%) of staff felt their colleagues understood who they really are — indicating pressure to conform rather than bring their “real” selves to work. We seek to ensure that staff has a sense of belonging, respect, and inclusion, and that their perspectives are heard. An important part of reshaping our culture will involve providing colleagues with the skills and tools they need to be able to truly receive, respect, and incorporate diverse perspectives. We will build awareness through training, mentorship, and allyship.
Both the internal- and external-facing work of AIP Publishing’s DEI initiative will connect our business priorities to our business and workplace values to cause, commit to, and operationalize a cultural shift towards transparency, diversity, inclusivity, equity, and accountability.
Sustainable, for the long term
This year we are celebrating AIP’s 90th anniversary. AIP Publishing is committed celebrating this milestone with AIP by taking steps that ensure an improved and transformed future for physical scientists, staff, and society. AIPP’s DEI program will be an important lever in a coordinated strategy by the staff and leadership of AIP and AIP Publishing to advance equity and demonstrate a lasting commitment to progress and change.