EDI Task Force helping to advance a culture of inclusivity

When it comes to equity, diversity and inclusion at Fermilab, it’s clear that we all share responsibility for ensuring our culture and climate are inclusive and equitable. Since mid-2020, the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force has put that collective accountability into action by championing employee concerns related to EDI and working with all levels of leadership and process owners to implement solutions.

Part of the focus of the cross-functional EDIT team has been to understand existing lab policies and practices. Under the guidance of Chief Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer Sandra Charles and in collaboration with the Senior Leadership EDI Council, the team’s roughly 20 members hold biweekly meetings to look into emerging issues and monitor progress being made on the lab’s EDI priorities.

To date, the EDIT has proven to be a safe place for honest and open dialogue on issues coming out of recommendations from lab resource groups, ChangeNow and the 2019 Climate Survey. The team’s shared ability to view these issues from a fresh perspective is helping create a more equitable work environment at the lab.

“EDIT members have done a great job bringing a critical eye and a willingness to challenge conventional wisdom to our EDI efforts,” Charles said. “They have served as change agents at every level, and their work demonstrates how accountability for equity, diversity and inclusion is the responsibility of everyone and not just one department or function.”

Core Computing Division’s Jim Fromm has been EDIT co-chair from the start. “My time with the task force has really opened my eyes to different thought processes and approaches,” Fromm said. “It has taught me not to be bashful but to tackle the big issues head-on and to be patient while we work our way through these complex topics.”

He added that early on EDIT recognized the need to break into smaller focus areas and formed five working groups: Accountability and Communication; Professional Development; Career Progression; Outreach/Engagement; and Recruitment.

Fromm is pleased with all that EDIT has accomplished so far. “We’ve made recommendations that are already being applied and we’ve seen tangible progress in several areas,” he said. An initial win of the task force was reinforcing the lab’s EDI commitment in job postings and job descriptions. The updated and expanded listing of protected classes reinforces the need to maintain an inclusive and respectful workplace at the lab.

Time charging codes for EDI and Education and Public Engagement-related activities represent another EDIT achievement. The introduction of these new codes has given personnel across the lab a consistent way to charge the time they spend on EDI and EPE-related activities, removing barriers to participation and sending a clear signal about the importance of EDI and EPE efforts to the lab’s mission.

The task force has a wide range of fact-finding exercises and recommendation proposals in various stages of development. A few examples include:

  • Ensuring labwide transparency in aggregate reporting of concerns reported through the lab’s established concerns reporting tool.
  • Promoting equitable access to mentoring and other development opportunities at all career stages for all lab employees.
  • Recommending creating a common promotion policy and producing a navigable matrix with identified pathways for promotion.
  • Ensuring EDI is an integral part of any conference at Fermilab and increasing participation of underserved and underrepresented populations at these events.

An equally important part of the EDIT mission is to give all employees an opportunity to help shape and ensure accountability for our EDI progress. If you are interested in serving on the task force, please contact Laura Rogas at lrogas@fnal.gov.

More details about the task force’s individual working groups will be shared in future articles. In the meantime, you can visit the EDIT SharePoint site to learn more about the task force and its ongoing efforts.