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How all ACS members can play a role in achieving the society’s core value of diversity, inclusion, and respect

by Christina Bodurow, District II Director
September 19, 2020 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 98, ISSUE 36

 

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Credit: Courtesy of Christina Bodurow
Christina Bodurow

As American Chemical Society members, we are living through a time when acting on ACS’s core values is critical to the current functioning and future direction of the society. These core values are the following:

Passion for chemistry and the global chemistry enterprise

Focus on members

Professionalism, safety, and ethics

Diversity, inclusion, and respect

The more deeply we understand, embrace, and act on these core values, the stronger our highly regarded chemistry profession will become. ACS’s core value of focusing on members, for example, plays out in multiple ways as we expand our reach into the chemistry enterprise, advance key aspects of professionalism and best practices in chemistry and safety, and embrace chemists from all corners of the profession.

Recent events in the US and around the world have focused our attention on the core value of diversity, inclusion, and respect, which states, “We believe in the strength of diversity in all its forms, because inclusion of and respect for diverse people, experiences, and ideas lead to superior solutions to world challenges and [advance] chemistry as a global, multidisciplinary science.”

These are inspiring words, no doubt, but they can also leave ACS members wondering, “How does that pertain to me?” and “What can I do about that?”

We believe that every member of ACS, as well as all members of the chemistry profession, have an important role to play.

Multiple groups within ACS have been working to define strategic and operational frameworks for carrying out this core value. For example, a recent letter to ACS members from ACS president Luis Echegoyen details actions that the society is taking to be a positive force for diversity, inclusion, and respect.

ACS members can also play a role in helping the society fulfill its core values. What follows are several guiding principles for members that have been developed by groups participating in discussions on diversity, inclusion, and respect. I would especially like to recognize the Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect Working Group for its contributions to these ideas.

Culture. The culture of an organization is generally defined by its customs, practices, institutions, and achievements. It is not only what an organization does but also how it thinks that will create an effective culture. ACS aims to cultivate a sustainable culture of inclusion that embraces the diversity of our entire community and advances the success of every member of the scientific community. Each of us, in our professional and volunteer lives, has a significant role to play by adopting customs and practices of inclusion, which will make ACS ­stronger through the richness of its diverse membership.

Communication. Successfully achieving the core value of diversity, inclusion, and respect requires communication and advocacy. Communication needs to come from ACS as a whole as well as from ACS units (for example, divisions and local sections) and members. More than the others, the core value of diversity, inclusion, and respect depends on a mindset and conscious choice to behave without bias or barriers. We learn and grow in these areas through communication with others.

Empowerment to expand. The first two guiding principles logically lead to the idea that successfully living out the diversity, inclusion, and respect core value is not relegated to a specific group or team. It requires a commitment by all of ACS as well as the chemistry community. ACS members and staff should feel empowered and have access to resources to continually advance diversity and inclusion within chemistry and the larger scientific community.

Programs and services. A commitment to culture, communication, and grassroots engagement will result in tangible actions. This is where the commitment to embedding diversity and equity in all levels of ACS programs, products, and services will contribute directly to the quality of life of those working in the scientific community. Our thoughts and mindsets will guide the development and delivery of value-added activities that ensure equitable access and opportunities to all groups within ACS.

Collaboration. In our quest to become more diverse and advance chemistry as a global, multidisciplinary science, ACS will need to collaborate with external partners to correct the current and historical lack of diversity in the scientific community and to advance our shared values. This is an area where all ACS members and staff can engage other organizations to mutually expand knowledge, understanding, and helpful services.

Just as the diversity, inclusion, and respect core value guides our thinking, these guiding principles expand our understanding and offer multiple courses of action to live out our value. We believe that every member of ACS, as well as all members of the chemistry profession, have an important role to play. While we work as an organization to address this issue, please explore how you can support and advance this critical core value. I welcome your ideas and feedback at c.bodurow@acs.org.

Views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of C&EN or ACS.

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