Graduate Career Consortium - Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Items6/18/2021
Over the past year, the members of GCC’s Executive Committee have been reflecting on, formulating plans, and taking steps to both address systemic inequities and enhance diversity within and throughout the GCC.
Spurred by recommendations made last year by the Diversity Committee, conversations with individual members, vital feedback from a diversity-focused survey of members a few months ago, and widespread social demands for racial justice, the Executive Committee acknowledges the importance of leading the GCC in enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) across our organization and throughout our profession.
Some initiatives have already begun. In particular, for the first time ever, we offered scholarships to defray costs of attendance to the Annual Conference for members from historically underrepresented and marginalized groups. In addition, the newly formed Finance Committee will assist in ensuring funds are spent to meet the needs of our growing membership, including a dedicated portion allocated in perpetuity towards DEI efforts.
Today, the Executive Committee announces additional action items:
Broadening Membership Criteria for the GCC
As stated in our bylaws, our membership criteria require members to be employed at a select level of high research activity or similar institutions (ex: R1 and R2 institutions). Criteria also require a member to provide direct career or professional development support to PhD students and/or postdocs in some capacity.
These policies have had ramifications that have led to instances of exclusion. Professionals at institutions such as some HBCUs and HSIs have been ineligible to become GCC members. In addition, those who only provide support to master’s students have likewise not met GCC eligibility criteria. Over time, our membership has changed, alongside the populations we serve, and the reality is that the vast majority of current members already support master’s students (80% as of our recent benchmarking survey).
While continuing our support of people who work with PhD students and/or postdocs, the GCC Executive Committee proposes several changes to our membership criteria with the aim of enhancing inclusion of more diverse institutions and populations. The long term goal is for these changes to lead to a more diverse community within GCC.
We propose that membership criteria in the GCC be simplified and broadened to include anyone employed full-time at a nonprofit institution of higher education or professional society who provides career or professional development support for graduate students and/or postdocs.
Later this summer, the Executive and Governance Committees will facilitate an information session about these proposed changes and we encourage engagement on this topic at that time. An announcement will be made once the date is finalized.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Advisor
In addition to the work needed to intentionally grow our community by bringing in more diverse voices, perspectives, and leadership, we are also taking steps to better support our current members. Several themes emerged from conversations and surveys around the need for more focused efforts towards greater levels of belonging and inclusivity, as well as equitable practices.
Within the next few months, we will request applications from GCC members to serve as an advisor to the Executive Committee. This advisor will focus on internal efforts around diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. This person will create and lead a task force of GCC members to both evaluate and formulate a plan for incorporating DEI throughout the organization. They will assess everything from GCC’s processes and procedures to member and committee needs, and more. This work will be directly incorporated into our 5-year strategic plan so that it is woven throughout every effort of our organization and does not fall to one person or group of people.
Formation of Membership and Belonging Committee
Over the last few years, our membership numbers have increased significantly - we have grown from 293 members in 2016 to 500 members today. We have heard from some newer members that they are unsure about how to get involved, navigate the organization, or connect meaningfully with others. In addition, members who identify as BIPOC and/or part of the LGBTQ+ community have also shared feelings of invisibility and marginalization, as well as experiences of their contributions not being valued. Our recent benchmarking survey has shown that the majority of our members are white, cis-gendered, heterosexual women and we recognize that our current organizational culture reflects that fact. However, we are also deeply committed to necessary transformations to build a community that is genuinely welcoming and supportive of everyone.
To both grow and strengthen our community, as well as provide better support to new and current members, we will form a new Membership and Belonging Committee. This committee will be focused on 3 initiatives: 1) welcoming and connecting with new members, 2) working on efforts towards belonging and inclusion within the current membership, and 3) identifying and inviting potential new members to join GCC. We expect that this committee will interface most with the Regional Directors group, the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Advisor, and the Secretary, who processes membership requests.
If you are interested in leading or joining this committee, please fill out this form.
Your Executive Committee
Briana (Bri) Konnick, President
Natalie Lundsteen, Past President
Annie Maxfield, President Elect
Eric Vaughn, Treasurer
Briana Mohan, Secretary
Chris Smith, Communications Chair