Toolkits for Equity in Scholarly Communications

This is the second in a series of posts about each of the teams that will be attending SCI 2019, and their projects. This one was submitted by Niccole Leilanionapae‘aina Coggins.

Powerful testimonies in The Scholarly Kitchen (TSK post 1; TSK post 2) and surveys (Lee and Low; Greco, Wharton, Brand; Publishers Association; Global Voices for Workplace Equity), document how deeply imbedded bias is in our workplaces. This growing awareness has fueled increased efforts within our industry to advance inclusivity in the scholarly communications community. Despite a recent groundswell of support for these efforts, there is growing frustration with the paucity of effective programs and solutions in place within our companies.

Illustration of equity and equality

We believe that this work would get a kick start if our professional associations could provide training materials to help transform our workplaces and organizational cultures. Building off of the American Alliance for Museums’ guides for transgender inclusion, ALA’s Diversity Standards: Cultural Competency for Academic Libraries, and other resources, our team will create three toolkits to provide a common framework for analysis, a shared vocabulary, and best practices to address systemic inequities specific to the scholarly communications community. Highlighting specific actions to accelerate progress, the toolkits will assist organizations in establishing best practices, help bias-affected individuals break down barriers, and encourage colleagues to advocate for others. The toolkits will introduce foundational equity concepts based on a racial equity model and applicable to inequities related to gender, ability, ethnicity, race, age, and sexual orientation.

  • The organizational guide will provide tools for understanding institutionalized racism and other systemic problems, broadening hiring and recruiting, working to correct bias, including historically marginalized perspectives in decision-making, developing retention plans, pipeline development, creating affinity groups and mentorship programs, broadening accessibility through best practices, and supporting trans and gender non-conforming people.
  • The guide for underrepresented groups will provide an analysis of power and advantage as well as tools for handling microaggressions, advocating for policy changes, filing a complaint, building mentorship relationships, and expanding career paths.
  • The allies’ guide will provide analyses of power, advantage, and unconscious bias; best practices for bystanders; and tools for advocating for policy changes, identifying microaggressions, and building mentorship relationships.

By applying racial equity principles to the development of our materials, we hope to provide organizations with tools that will help them to fundamentally reevaluate core elements of their structure. We have often heard frustration voiced by individuals involved in diversity work—it can be difficult to convince employers that diversity does not end at hiring, and efforts by committees and task forces can stall out if there is not broad awareness of how inequality pervades every part of our workplace culture.

In distilling key equity concepts into accessible language and proposing actionable changes and best practices specific to our industry, we hope to shift the conversation from diversity to inclusion and, in doing so, help create workplaces where all individuals are valued, are set up for success, and where they will see themselves reflected.

Diagram depicting the "problem" of women of color in scholarly communications

Our Team

Niccole Leilanionapae‘aina Coggins is the editorial, design and production coordinator and assistant project editor for the University of Virginia Press. Niccole was a Mellon University Press Diversity Fellow at the University of Washington Press, where she was able to combine her lifelong interests in racial identity and indigenous sovereignty by working on books in Asian American and Indigenous studies, and American and environmental history.

Jocelyn Dawson is journals marketing manager at Duke University Press. Jocelyn serves on the AUPresses’s Annual Meeting Program Committee and is a previous member of the SSP’s Board of Directors. Passionate about equity and inclusion topics, she serves on SSP’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, plays an active role in E&I efforts at Duke University Press, and has authored four pieces about diversity for The Scholarly Kitchen.

Melanie Dolechek is the Executive Director of SSP and previously served as the Director of Publishing and Marketing at Allen Press. She plays an active role in the Coalition for Diversity & Inclusion in Scholarly Communications (C4DISC), is an advisory board member of the Workplace Equity Project, and currently serves as treasurer of the Kansas City Society of Association Executives.

Gisela Concepción Fosado was a member of both AUPresses’ Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and AUPresses’ Gender, Equity, and Cultures of Respect Task Force. In 2016, she co-founded a grassroots staff group at Duke University Press focusing on equity and inclusion. As an Editor at Duke, Gisela publishes books across the humanities and social sciences, with an interest in books that foreground marginalized perspectives, adopt an intersectional approach, and contribute to our understanding of social movements and inequality.

As a co-founder of the Workplace Equity Project, a grassroots research, communication, and advocacy organization, Susan Spilka developed a marketing and communications strategy that yielded endorsements from major scholarly publishers, professional organizations, and UN Women UK, and participation from nearly 1,200 respondents. Having led Corporate Communications at Wiley for two decades, Susan now provides strategic communications, public relations, business development, and research services for scholarly publishers and technology services. She currently serves on SSP’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.

Toolkit Dissemination

After the toolkits are finalized, we will

  • work with C4DISC member organizations to solicit feedback and encourage adoption.
  • seek endorsements from organizations across scholarly communications, starting with members of C4DISC and their boards.
  • increase awareness of and buy-in to our resources by preparing conference panel proposals for AUPresses (Association of University Presses), SSP (The Society for Scholarly Publishing), and other C4DISC member conferences, collaborating with members of these groups’ diversity and inclusion task forces and committees.

[ Equality/Equity illustration by Matt Kinshella, used here by permission. The “Problem” Woman of Color in Scholarly Communications illustration adapted from the Centre for Community Organizations (COCo), used here by permission. Please contact the original creators if you wish to reproduce these images.]

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