GSA has been working on reforms to achieve greater Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion within the Society with renewed purpose and resolve over the past year.
Since my last update in April, I am happy to report that we have made significant progress on how we nominate and award GSA fellowships. An ad hoc committee, formed in December 2020, was charged with reviewing the fellowship criteria and nominations process with the objectives of benchmarking the nomination processes to similar professional organizations, coupled with working to identify and remove any potential biases in the process of recruiting and vetting Fellows. One of the numerous recommendations that was approved by GSA Council in May 2021 is to revise the fellowship nomination categories and provide greater detail for fellowship requirements, including actions that promote diversity and inclusion in the geosciences. We expect to complete implementation of the revised fellowship election process by the next round of nominations in October.
Also at its spring meeting, GSA Council approved and adopted bold new recommendations from our Diversity Working Group to address short- and long-term remedies for shortcomings in our procedures and operations. Steps toward lasting systemic change include:
- Measure and regularly report to the GSA Council and to the community on the demographics and experience of GSA members and staff.
- Embed JEDI (justice, equity, diversity, inclusion) in GSA’s governance structure and operations.
- Institutionalize culture change and responsibility for action beginning with GSA leaders.
- Increase funding for diversity staff, programs, and service-leadership, including funding a full-time diversity officer.
- Redouble efforts to make meetings and publications diverse and inclusive.
- Form a standing “GSA JEDI” advisory group.
- Cultivate diversity among future GSA leaders.
- Encourage the GSA membership to be champions for diversity, equity, and inclusion at their workplaces and home institutions.
The Executive Director and staff will work to implement these over the next twelve months and beyond. Read the full Diversity Working Group report.
We continue to work on improving our awards nominations and selection processes, aiming for having revisions to announce by the GSA Connects 2021 meeting.
We are confident that together these actions will make GSA stronger and fairer in the pursuit to eliminate systematic racism and bias in our Society. We express our thanks to the many volunteers who are helping with this work and our appreciation for the support of the membership at large.
—J. Douglas Walker, Immediate Past-President, GSA