Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan
Behavior Genetics Association (BGA)
The events of 2020 and 2021, including the Black Lives Matter movement and the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on disadvantaged and marginalized communities, bring renewed urgency for scientific organizations worldwide to acknowledge the role science has played in racism. The history of our field is inextricably linked with racism, including the misuse of behavior genetic research to support violent eugenic policies. It is vitally important not only that the Behavior Genetics Association states unequivocally that Black Lives Matter, but also that we commit to actions advancing diversity, inclusion, equality, and awareness within our organization and to prevent racist misuse of our science now and in the future. Therefore, the Behavior Genetics Association Executive Committee in consultation with the recently created Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Committee have developed an action plan to address the structural inequities rife within our community.
Despite its international profile, BGA membership remains unrepresentative of human diversity and much work remains to address these issues. We need to develop and maintain efforts to be more inclusive in our reach and activities, to be alert to the potential influence of biases to which we are all prone, to adopt and act on policies that increase diversity and equity in many dimensions, and to combat all forms of racism.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion in behavior genetics and genomics research are scientific and community imperatives. Therefore, BGA envisions a world in which people everywhere have the opportunity to participate in and realize the benefits of genetics and genomics research and seeks to advance understanding and appreciation of that research to benefit science and society.
- Scientists experience BGA as an inclusive, welcoming, and learning community where they can bring their full selves and engage and develop as scientists free from discrimination or unprofessional conduct.
- BGA members reflect the diversity of the populations they serve.
- BGA members work to understand their own biases and prejudices, improve self-awareness, and become more skilled at supporting diversity, inclusion, and belonging through their actions.
- Install a Task Force to continue the development of this Action Plan.
BGA installed an Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Committee to promote and support inclusion, diversity, equity, and access for the BGA membership and at BGA affiliated events.
The IDEA committee will, in consultation with the Executive Committee, install a Task Force to sharpen, expand, and roll out this Action Plan. The Task Force will continue to develop plans to facilitate the participation and engagement of groups from diverse backgrounds and to support members of diverse backgrounds, at the Annual Meeting and in the Journal.
The Task Force will include four to six members, at least two of whom will be Associate Members and at least two of whom will be Full Members. The Task Force will be appointed for two years. Year 1 will focus primarily on developing actions to advance the internal diversity of BGA (e.g. membership, participation in the annual meeting, publication in the journal of the Association, or editorial board membership of the journal). Year 2 will seek to support the external diversity goals of BGA (e.g. public communication and engagement).
(RESPONSIBLE: EC and IDEA)
- Continue the yearly climate and social safety survey and membership discussion.
Since 2018 the IDEA committee has established a yearly survey to assess the climate and social safety of the association. This survey will be a yearly activity and outcomes will be presented to and discussed with the membership at the annual meeting.
- Yearly survey of member demographics.
To evaluate progress toward the stated goal of improving the extent to which BGA membership is diverse, the IDEA committee will establish a yearly survey of demographic characteristics of members. The demographic survey will be separate from the climate and social safety survey. This survey will be a yearly activity and outcomes will be presented to and discussed with the membership at the annual meeting.
- Reconsider the award structure of the Association (e.g. naming) as well as the criteria for the awards, and establish a new award in partnership with the IDEA committee.
(RESPONSIBILITY: IDEA + EC)
- Provide additional funds or travel awards targeted towards underrepresented backgrounds.
- Provide reduced membership dues and meeting registration fees for individuals from low- and middle-income countries to increase their engagement in and access to the Association and its resources.
- Establish a pre-opening event at the Annual Meeting for ‘new and first-time’ conference participants to welcome them and introduce them to the executive committee, the IDEA committee, and other ‘new and first-time’ conference participants. Set up a mentoring system to establish contact points and support for newer members of the association or non-members visiting the BGA conference.
(RESPONSIBLE: EC + Local Host)
- Integrate experience with issues in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) into association activities (e.g. a regular invited plenary at the annual meeting, a dedicated section in the journal, and a workshop or symposium at the annual meeting to reflect on topics such as biases and self-awareness).
(RESPONSIBLE: EC + Local Host + editor BG)
- Continue to introduce special efforts to encourage Board, committee, and award nominations of outstanding scientists who reflect the diverse geography, gender, ethnicity, and scientific disciplines and specialties of BGA members.
In April 2021, the Executive Committee of the BGA approved this initial Action Plan.