Systemic bias and institutional marginalization of individuals and communities is pervasive throughout all aspects of our society based on, but not limited to, race, gender identity, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, cultural practices, and religion. Working at the science-policy interface, we see these inequalities reflected in the marine and coastal science landscape, including disparities in the education pipeline, access to ocean recreation, resilience to climate change impacts, and in coastal and ocean policy engagement, among much else. These inequalities are highly visible within the two fields we span as a boundary organization; both marine science and marine policy are not representative of California’s diversity. It is critical that we challenge these systemic problems through detailed and obtainable commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
At California Ocean Science Trust (OST), we see diversity as central to our organizational philosophy and culture and imperative to our mission to accelerate progress towards a healthy and productive ocean future for California. Serving the most diverse state in the country, and recognizing that diverse groups are more productive, more innovative, and healthier than their homogenous counterparts, we believe that it is impossible to develop efficient and equitable solutions to climate change and its disproportionate impact on frontline communities of color without including a broad set of perspectives, experiences, and knowledge. We also recognize that diversity does not always guarantee equity or inclusion, thus we have commited to foster a culture of equity and inclusion within our organization, with our partners, and in the work we do.
Dedication to these initiatives is not only an expression of OST as an organization, but also as individuals recognizing an urgent need for action. This is why we have already implemented measures to express values of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) internally and externally, such as:
- Diversifying what a scientist looks like by hiring staff from various backgrounds, and with diverse experiences and expertise – not limiting prospects to traditional paths
- Supporting the use of gender-inclusive pronouns in email signatures, social media accounts, and other identifiers (e.g. name-tags, tent cards)
- Beginning all workshops and meetings with indigenous land acknowledgements
- Ensuring the use of community commitments during workshops and meetings to cultivate inclusion and equity during discussions
- Convening a DEI Advisory Committee within the Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team (OPC SAT)
- Reaching out to current partners to share perspectives and learnings on our DEI initiatives
- Providing equitable investments in staff professional development
- Providing staff with work schedule flexibility (e.g. life management leave, work-from-home policy)
Acknowledging that our current efforts are too few, we have embraced this homegrown initiative and are committed to:
- Continuing land acknowledgements in all meetings with an emphasis on expanding virtual meeting land acknowledgements to include all participant locations
- Continuing to foster an inclusive environment for our Board, staff, and external partners
- Share our commitment with our community, including in job postings, internship, and fellowship descriptions
- Promote best practices when convening working groups to elevate marginalized voices and ensure inclusion of traditionally underserved communities
Short-term (1-12 months)
- Produce electronic documents consistent with California guidance on digital document accessibility
- Pursue funding to further support our internal DEI initiative, providing staff with formalized workshops, trainings, and education opportunities
- Update our recruitment process by researching, designing, and implementing an equitable selection strategy that reflects our DEI values and commitments
- Strengthen partnerships with minority-serving institutions to build capacity and increase diversity in the coastal and ocean resources policy sphere and the natural and social sciences workforce of California, with an emphasis on empowering the next generation of scientists and professionals
Long-term (1-5 years)
- Convert OST library of products to comply with California guidance on digital document accessibility
- Partner with organizations that put DEI at the forefront of their mission. As we acknowledge that we are not experts, we commit to supporting and amplifying their voices
As an organization, we commit to continuously assess our progress on this initiative and recognize where we need significant improvements, more awareness, and deeper engagement, using these opportunities to reflect and to advance our learning and dedication to DEI.
Additional Resources and Reading
Societal change is a communal effort; for that, we thank the following groups for their continued labor and educational efforts, and invite readers to look at some of the resources available on their websites. This list is a work in progress, please contact email@example.com with your suggestions and input.