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06.14.2023 | SSP News & Releases

LP Spotlight | From working group to standing committee: A history of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility work at the Society for Scholarly Publishing

From working group to standing committee: A history of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility work at the Society for Scholarly Publishing

Rebecca McLeod, Damita Snow, Nick Dormer | Learned Publishing | Volume 36, Issue 1

Key points:
  • The Society for Scholarly Publishing’s (SSP) Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Committee began as a grassroots initiative in 2016. Over a period of 4 years, the committee evolved from a six-member task force to a large standing team consisting of more than 25 individuals.

  • The task force developed a strategic plan consisting of three major objectives that formed the basis of the group’s strategic initiatives. The Committee implemented several DEIA initiatives that provided education and resources to SSP members about DEIA within their workplaces and promoted DEIA practices in the work that SSP Committees were doing on behalf of the organization.

Authors Rebecca McLeod, Managing Director, Harvard Data Science Review, and Damita Snow, CAE, Senior Manager of Publishing Technologies and Publications Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Specialist at the American Society of Civil Engineers, shared how they and their colleague, Nick Dormer, Senior Project Manager, MAARK, view the success of SSP’s DEIA Committee.

For you personally, which of the programs put in place by the Committee has been the most rewarding? 

We are especially proud of those that support SSP’s DEIA strategic goals and have an impact on the wider scholarly publishing industry. For example, the Committee partnered with the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communications (C4DISC), a cross-organizational group with representatives from nine other organizations, to create free DEIA virtual programming. Topics have included “Intersectionality: Considering Identity When Working Towards a More Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Future,” “Antiracism Toolkit for Organizations,” and “Quiet Leadership: Discovering the New Strategic Advantage and the Hidden Talent in Your Organization.”  Another milestone in the Fall of 2019 was the launch of the Scholarly Publishing DEIA Resource Forum on the SSP website. Open to SSP members and non-members; the forum is an online community for sharing DEIA resources and asking questions. Another achievement was hiring Dianndra Roberts as The Scholarly Kitchen’s DEIA Associate Editor in April 2022. 

Over the years, members of the SSP DEIA Committee have selflessly invested time and effort into meaningful activities. Is there any one resource tracking the success of the SSP and its Publishing membership regarding DEIA in scholarly publishing?

While the Committee does not have one resource tracking its success in achieving diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility, we have a strategic plan with three major objectives to accomplish. Our first objective is to educate the membership on building diverse and inclusive communities. For example, members of the Committee worked with C4DISC on three toolkits for equity–one for allies, one for organizations, and one for BIPOC authors, readers, and reviewers.

Our second objective is to support diversity and inclusion in scholarly publishing and to position SSP as a thought leader in DEIA. The Committee’s efforts to keep diversity and inclusion at the forefront of every conversation within SSP came to fruition at the Society’s 41st Annual Meeting in San Diego, California, in June 2019. “Shaping the New Status Quo: Perspectives in Scholarly Publishingwas the theme. The meeting brought new voices and perspectives to help us move together toward a new age of scholarly communication. Moreover, we have incorporated DEIA into the SSP member survey, mentoring, outreach language, and speaker and session recommendations.

Our third objective is to improve our ability to support organizational diversity and inclusion initiatives. For example, the Committee created programming for SSP annual meetings and the C4DISC community, including a four-part series for The Scholarly Kitchen on Reducing the Burden of Diversity Tax.

What achievements do you hope to celebrate in 2026 when the Committee has its tenth anniversary?

We hope to be able to celebrate several milestones when the Committee has its tenth anniversary. To encourage more people from marginalized communities to follow a career path in scholarly communications, we want to partner with institutions that serve these communities, such as HBCUs and have more paid internships at SSP member organizations. In addition, we hope that all SSP standing Committees will adopt DEIA values. Finally, by 2026, we hope to have biannual DEIA training for the SSP Board of Directors, staff members, and Committee chairs, as well as annual assessments to ensure that each SSP standing Committee incorporates DEIA in their charge.

Read more from this issue of Learned Publishing!

Access to Learned Publishing is a benefit of membership in SSP. Log in to the Member Center to access the full text online now!

News contribution by SSP member Aileen McHugh. Aileen is a Senior Associate Publisher with the American College of Physicians.

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