We began the SWE fiscal year at the onset of a reckoning on racial injustice in the United States and the world, and with a global pandemic that is yet to subside. Having reached the halfway point, it’s time to review our journey toward greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. I’ll begin with the recently released slate of FY22 candidates — our most diverse ever.
Mindful of the feedback we received at our two town hall meetings, where discussions focused on our leadership pipeline and nominating procedures, we took steps to mitigate the limitations of our process. To develop a broader and more diverse pool of candidates and final slate, we focused on outreach to potential candidates and examined the language used to describe qualifications. We asked current leaders and SWE members to extend the call for nominations to varied networks. We had conversations with people who might not have otherwise seen themselves in Society-level leadership roles. As a direct result, several entered the pool. Others decided that the time is not right, but it is something they would seriously consider in the future.
We also requested that candidates furnish demographic data. While optional, in the past SWE did not pursue this information. We realize we have work to do, and we can’t identify the holes in our process without the data. We hope people will increasingly furnish this information so we can measure progress and recognize where we fall short.
Our timeline did not permit a retooling of the nomination process — that will follow the special election to replace Eileen Vélez-Vega’s position on the board. We are sad to lose her valuable input but delighted by the reason — her appointment as Puerto Rico’s first woman secretary of transportation and public works. We congratulate her on this trailblazing role!
Another key area is DE&I training. Local leaders have frequently asked how they can do better, recognizing that in most cases a person’s first experience with SWE is at the section level. Consistent training, from the section to committee and Society levels, as well as staff, will ensure a clear DE&I framework. The rollout begins at the end of January.
We are adding partner organizations to the awards language and criteria. This means that participation in our partner organizations (NSBE, SHPE, AISES, oSTEM, NOGLSTP, or similar) will be added to the criteria and judging rubric — consistent with SWE’s mission and strategy.
Lastly, I encourage you to revisit the WE20 content, available until November 2021, and continue to “practice curiosity,” our theme for WE20 and FY21.
FY21 SWE President