Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging in Academia: A Discussion


As part of our ongoing free Brown Bag Event series, ATG recently hosted a panel of Research Development professionals who work in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging space to talk about how to better support DEIB initiatives across the Academy. As always, we recorded the discussion, but turned the recording off to encourage candor and transparency during the following Q&A.


Usually, the panel lasts about 20 minutes and the discussion goes on for the rest of the hour. This topic was so rich, the panelists talked for nearly 40 minutes. The feeling was that we could have kept talking for hours, and even before the session ended, people were asking us to do it again.


The recorded part of the conversation can be viewed here, but we didn’t want you to miss the discussion, so we’re sharing the highlights and recommended resources below. I also asked our panelists if they were willing to make any additional comments on the notes I took during the event. Their responses are included here, mostly without attribution to preserve the spirit of open conversation.


If you have additional thoughts and resources, please share them in the comments!


We opened the Q&A with some further thoughts on how to use the free Conversation Roadblocks Infographics document by Catalyst , which can serve as an entry to open and vulnerable dialog. Etta Ward has co-facilitated over thirty Conversation Roadblocks sessions with various organizations including the NORDP, HERS Leadership Institute, and other groups.


She shared some thoughts about how to get started:

1. Don’t try to do it alone. Seek out a counterpart from a different race or background. Embrace and invite diversity at every step and have a partner to work with.

2. Be ready to identify your roadblock and how it shows up in different contexts and identify actions and steps toward surmounting it.

3. Share your race stories. We all have them. When did you know you had privilege, and when did you become aware of a shift in your feeling about that privilege? When did you know you had to do this anti-racism work?

4. “Be in 2D, if not in 3D”- in other words, be fully present and willing to embody the trust you seek from others.

5. Be aware of the many intersections that affect your privilege, your race story, and the lives of all people in marginalized populations. (Check out available Catalyst Infographics on various intersections.)


Other comments and suggestions that came up included the following:

  • Communicating your diversity efforts can be challenging. Candidates are not seeing themselves represented at high levels. Issues of trust and lack of transparency are very common. The barriers to entry are so normalized that we have to look for them. However, there are many areas of improvement to look at. NORDP and other national organizations could do a better job of making Job Descriptions and calls more inclusive. All organizations should be collecting and publishing best practices.

  • One strategy is to provide culturally aware and consistent mentoring.

  • Another tactic is to work with national organizations. They have been convening thought leaders and having these conversations for some time now and are in the process of taking the conversations to their memberships.

  • Volunteer - get involved with committees at the national level.

  • Participate in your institution’s diversity trainings and (again) serve on committees (“it’s a good thing!”).

  • It’s important to guide the mentors of today to what’s really helpful and necessary to counter the prevailing dogma.