Over the last ten years, BEA has grown and changed in many significant ways, including new interest groups, more regional and super-regional conferences, a stronger financial base, and closer ties with many industry organizations. But the most significant change may be a set of efforts designed to promote diversity and inclusion throughout the organization.
Those of us who have been involved with BEA for more than thirty years can remember conventions dominated by one gender and culture. There is no question that we’ve become increasingly diverse over the intervening decades, but the pace of change has accelerated over the past three years.
Consider these innovations:
• BEA has adopted a diversity and inclusion statement
• A list of resources for diversity and inclusion has been added to the BEA website
• Creating divisions that foster research addressing multicultural issues.
• Adding an annual award for the paper that best addresses issues of diversity and inclusion.
• Modifying the BEA database to include measures that allow us to quantify the diversity of the organization.
• Inclusion of categories for non-English submissions to the Festival of Media Arts.
• Recruitment of more diverse representation on the Board of Directors.
• Creation of a special committee to recruit faculty and students from HBCUs to join BEA.
Along the way, the mission of the Diversity Committee has expanded to encompass inclusion as an expression of the importance to move beyond representation and to take action to welcome and incorporate what diversity brings to the organization.
If you have a minute or two, please join me in expressing thanks to everyone who has helped to bring these innovations to BEA, including Jennifer Meadows, Ed Youngblood, Heather Stillwell, Kim Zarkin, Mary Schaffer, John Hendricks, Tony DeMars, Rick Sykes, and Mary Rogus, plus the entire BEA staff: Heather, J.D., and Traci, all of whom have helped us to articulate and achieve these goals.
We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. If you have other ideas about how BEA can increase diversity and inclusion, please send them to me or your district representative. And if you’re interested in being part of next year’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, please contact President-Elect Michael Bruce (firstname.lastname@example.org), who will be creating the 2017-18 committee assignments over the next two months.
Again, thanks to everyone who has participated in these efforts. BEA is stronger because of your efforts.
University of South Carolina