Jahnavi Shah

PhD Student, Planetary Science

My take on EDI Workshops

Hi all,

For my last blog post of 2021, I would like to rant about my thoughts (mainly criticisms) on EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion) workshops. Over the past year, there has been a lot of movement to address EDI-related issues in all aspects of society. Many companies and organizations have issued their support and changed their policies to support inclusion in the workplace, only on paper though. I have yet to see any implemented change, although I recognize that this is a long-term operation and change will not happen over night. One common practice or effort that has been put into place, however, are EDI workshops or presentations. I might add that these are optional to attend though, so again not very well implemented. Anyhow, there are many EDI workshops that are incorporated into event programs such as departmental colloquium series for example. Please let me make it clear that I appreciate this effort, at least as a start to spread awareness and I always learn something new when I attend these talks. However, my criticism is that I don’t take away any practices that I can implement in my daily routine that would help the EDI effort.

Recently, I attended a mini conference focused on science and engineering which included a series of talks, one of which was on EDI in science and engineering. I quite enjoyed the talk and when it started the speaker mentioned that it won’t like other presentations where we just discuss the problems, but rather some actions that we can take. I was really excited to learn about the actions and then it turned into a typical EDI talk where we talk about the issues. I would like to stress that I am not criticizing the effort or the presenter, I learned some things from it, however I was disappointed because it was not what I expected or what it was advertised to be. And this is the case with a lot of these types of talks. For instance, I’ve attended a couple EDI panels and meet-ups at conferences, and what it turns into in a “complaining” session. I understand that it is important to build a community and space where people can feel safe to share their stories, I don’t deny that. However, at some point we are going to have to take the next step and I’m wondering when that will be incorporated into these sessions.

EDI is not something that can be squeezed into one session or workshop. It’s needs to be a more strategic long-term project. There need to be clear goals and measurable outcomes, along with common practices that people can carry out. I think it would be beneficial to have on-going “training” as these topics are ever-changing. It might also be useful to collect data from people about what they have experienced, but also what they would like to learn. Everyone learns differently and they want learn different things as they have different roles within an institution. EDI training, if implemented, needs to be more targeted to job and what practices makes sense in that role. Good hiring practices that are inclusive and equitable are important, but that is not something that is directly relevant to my role as a student. I would like to learn about creating a safe environment for my peers and students (because I’m a teaching assistant). I want to learn how to make my presentation skills that are inclusive, like common-day phrases and references and something as small as using appropriate photos for my powerpoint.

So I know experts are brought in for EDI talks and workshops, but I also think they should included in devising long-term training plans and implementation. And this means there needs to be more than one collaboration or partnership since there is no one single EDI issues. Different groups will have different perspectives and these should all be incorporated. I am far from an expert, but I am not seeing any of these in workshops I’ve attended so I’m just sharing my thoughts about it. I would like to have this conversation with my peers and friends and get their thoughts on this. And obviously, this will be an on-going conversation and I’m sure I’ll rant about it another time in the future. But for now, I would like to see workshops with some actions.

Till next year, happy holidays!

Some resources I used:
1. Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion: https://ccdi.ca/
2. EDI Mindfulness Consulting: https://www.edimindfulness.com/why-diversity-and-inclusion-training-is-limited-at-best-without-a-strategic-equity-plan/

Next Post

Previous Post

Leave a Reply

© 2022 Jahnavi Shah

Theme by Anders Norén