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DEIJ Task Force Recommendations

ESA Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Task Force

Recommendations to the Governing Board 

Endorsed by ESA Governing Board on November 10, 2020

EcoTone Blog Nov 20, 2020: Advancing Science through Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice

Charge from ESA Presidents September 24, 2020

The charge of the ESA Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) Task Force is to review barriers to full participation by all ESA members, to prioritize actions and propose metrics and a timeline for their implementation, to estimate the resources required to carry out the actions, and to deliver the recommendations to the ESA Governing Board. The Task Force will initially focus on anti-racism and the second phase of its work will focus on all aspects of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice.

Note: The ESA DEIJ Task Force concluded its work in 2021. As of August 2021, the ESA Diversity Committee has begun reviewing and implementing recommendations of the Task Force. Contact Carmen Cid, Chair of the ESA Diversity Committee for information on how ESA is implementing its DEIJ Task Force recommendations.


ESA DEIJ Task Force Members

  • Anjali Boyd, Duke University
  • Jacoby Carter, U.S. Geological Survey Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
  • Jacquelyn Gill, University of Maine
  • Zakiya Leggett, North Carolina State University
  • Robert Newman, University of North Dakota
  • Pamela Templer, Boston University (Chair)


I. Solicitation of Input from ESA Members

The ESA DEIJ Task Force solicited input from ESA members through multiple approaches to identify barriers to participation and generate ideas to improve ESA. We held an online Listening Session on October 7, 2020 that was moderated by Pamela Templer and Anjali Boyd and attended by 84 participants. We invited input through a self-audit that was sent to Chairs of all Sections, Committees, and Programs and resulted in 28 reports. We also gathered information through an anonymous survey that went to the entire ESA membership and this resulted in 29 responses. 


II. Barriers to full participation by BIPOC members of ESA

Based on input from ESA membership, we identified critical barriers to full participation in recruitment, retention, and promotion of black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) that we believe should be reduced to make ESA more inclusive. These barriers include (a) lack of knowledge about how ESA members and leaders can support DEIJ, (b) structural barriers to inclusion of BIPOC in leadership, as well as weak mechanisms and practices for engagement at ESA, (c) limited recruitment, retention, and advancement of BIPOC at ESA, and (d) insufficient acknowledgement of DEIJ efforts. To fulfill ESA’s mission to advance the science and practice of ecology, BIPOC must be fully supported throughout their careers.


III. Recommendations to the Governing Board

Our recommendations to the Governing Board include explicit steps ESA can take to guide our Sections, Chapters, and Committees in their efforts to support BIPOC, and to recognize and reward efforts to build a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and just ESA.

 a) Educate ESA Members and Leaders in Anti-Racism and Support of BIPOC

It is clear from our conversations with ESA members that they value diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) and want to see constructive change across membership and leadership positions. However, many members and leaders do not know what steps they can take to support DEIJ, and hence we recommend that ESA:

  • Disseminate DEIJ best practices, guidance, and resources on how to engage and elevate BIPOC to leaders of all committees, sections, and chapters
  • Provide anti-racism training for ESA members and leaders


b) Recommendations to Reform Structures, Mechanisms, and Practices at ESA

We believe that ESA efforts in DEIJ will be more effective if the Committee on Diversity & Education is split into two committees and if we make structural changes across ESA. We recommend the following:

  • The permanent “Diversity Committee” will work with all committees, sections, and chapters, facilitate implementation of the DEIJ Action Plan, recommend budget priorities for DEIJ initiatives, and lead other efforts going forward.
  • Create a new mechanism for ESA members to provide anonymous feedback or to communicate concerns or questions related to DEIJ.
  • Provide a list of ESA leaders and staff people who can serve as a resource regarding DEIJ or facilitate connections with BIPOC networks.
  • Create coordinated planning of plenary speakers at ESA Annual Meetings to ensure the suite of speakers represent the diversity that ESA aspires to be
  • Follow-up with new Awards Nomination committee work to determine how process can be further improved to increase nominations of BIPOC for awards
  • Work with Editors in Chiefs of ESA publications to diversify editorial boards and manuscript reviewers

c) Recommendations to Improve Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement of BIPOC at ESA

  • Develop a strategy to partner with BIPOC networks and programs, and minority-serving institutions and organizations including the pre-college level.
  • Develop a Scholarship or Fellowship program to support participation of BIPOC across all career stages in ESA meetings and events.
  • Create welcome sessions and safe spaces for BIPOC at annual meetings and other ESA events (e.g., lounge space) with attention to potential negative perceptions of segregation
  • Create a database or a directory of BIPOC experts who “opt in” that includes their expertise, discipline, interests, race, ethnicity (all voluntary). These lists can be used for nominations for awards, leadership positions, as well as for speakers, workshops, journal reviewers, editorial boards, etc.
  • Host public sessions and events (online or in-person) with BIPOC at the helm, as well as other venues to highlight BIPOC contributions to science, education, policy, etc.
  • Create BIPOC leadership mentoring program that shares information about ESA leadership pathways, how to be published in ESA journals, how to organize symposia and Who’s Who in ESA
  • Promote symposia that focus on the science (not the politics or advocacy) of environmental justice.

d) Increase Acknowledgement of DEIJ Efforts at ESA

  • Raise visibility of BIPOC and people who are doing work to increase DEIJ: At ESA plenary talks and/or the opening event at the annual ESA meeting and through various channels, highlight ESA Sections, Chapters, and Committees who are doing constructive work to support DEIJ
  • Send acknowledgement to ESA members’ home institution for contributions to ESA

 IV. Recommended Metrics

We recommend that these new metrics be developed and implemented, with results shared publicly annually:

  • Track effectiveness and use of resources made available to educate ESA members and leaders in anti-racism and support of BIPOC
  • Track diversity in nominations, publications (editorial boards and reviewers), committees, sections, and chapters, leadership
  • Track visibility of ESA members working to increase DEIJ at ESA
  • Track perceptions of inclusion by BIPOC in committees, sections, and chapters, leadership, publications, awards, and ESA in general.

V. Estimate Resources