Inclusive resolutions for a supportive new year
With 2018 coming to a close, Elizabeth has seven suggestions for ways to support equality and inclusion in 2019.
For many of us, the new year can be a time for making changes and committing to doing something different to make our lives better. Personally, I prefer to change things when the time feels right, not just when the calendar says so. But, if you’re a lover of new year’s resolutions, here are a few suggestions that could help you to make positive changes for equality and diversity in the new year. I hope you’ll find them easy to do and that maybe they’ll help you to feel a little happier and healthier too.
- Be kinder – to others and to yourself. As Scientists are Humans – an organisation that supports healthier work-life balance and general wellbeing in science – points out, without humans, there is no science. As scientists, we choose our research field because it’s something we’re passionate about but sometimes pushing too hard results in burning out. The Scientists are Humans manifesto gives advice on how to create a kinder, more understanding workplace.
- Vote with your feet. You don’t need to be a leading scientist to make changes. Everyone can show where their values lie by showing up, or not. Also, don’t forget to explain why: if you aren’t going to attend a panel because it is all men, tell the organisers that! Commit to only sitting on balanced panels or committees in 2019 or decide that you’re going to invite a balanced mix of speakers to talk in the lab this year.
- Publicise your pronouns. This is a really simple way to make a more inclusive environment for trans, non-binary and gender nonconforming people as well as encouraging people not to make assumptions about gender. It shows that you’re aware of gender issues and that you’re supportive of people expressing themselves however they choose. You can put your pronouns in your email signature, write them on your conference badge, or buy yourself some pronoun pin badges or stickers.
- Be aware of your biases. Having unconscious biases isn’t a moral failing but neither is it an excuse not to change your behaviour. This year pledge to learn, reflect and act on unconscious bias. You can even take some online tests to explore your own unconscious biases.
- Amplify marginalised voices. If you want to support marginalised groups, the first step is to listen to what they have to say. The next step is to highlight their voices rather than speaking over them. A good trick is to agree and amplify. When someone voices an idea in a meeting this ensures their contribution is noticed and credited to them.
- Stand up to discrimination. Challenging racist, sexist or other discriminatory behaviour can feel scary but being willing to start those conversations creates room for discussion and change. Make sure you feel comfortable, safe and calm in order to have a productive dialogue. Anyone can take a stand against discrimination, you don’t have to be the one being discriminated against, supporting each other can be incredibly important.
- Redefine excellence. Try to broaden your definition of excellence or how it can be achieved. Take time to think about what’s really important to you, it doesn’t all have to be amazing science and high impact papers. Celebrate each other’s successes and seek to change the way you think about your own achievements. Consider how you can support a healthy scientific culture.
Creating a more inclusive and supportive scientific community can feel like a challenge but by all working together, we can create a happier working environment that welcomes, appreciates and benefits everyone, and that produces even better science.
I don’t have all the answers but I know that lots of people making little changes can have a huge impact so I hope you’ll find my small suggestions helpful. Whether you adopt these resolutions or think of your own, I wish you a happy and prosperous new year!