Reflecting on Our Plan to Promote Equity and Counter Racism

August 5, 2021 |  

Banner with logo and "Message from the Executive Director"


 

Dear CCST Community,

Just over a year ago, CCST committed to ensuring our programs are more inclusive, equitable, and fully supportive of our Black colleagues and all other groups of people who have historically been the targets of racism and violence. This included commitments to redefine our core values, integrate a lens of equity into all of our programs and activities, listen and learn, and rethink and improve how we train future leaders.

As we mark over one year since our commitment, we want to provide an update on our progress toward these commitments.

Where are we today?

CCST is actively creating a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable organization.  Engagement by our CCST S&T Policy Fellow alums, led by Black alums, has catalyzed significant changes in our organization and work—culturally, programmatically, and structurally.

We see these actions, and progress toward our commitments, as part of a constant and iterative effort to make our organization more equitable—an effort that requires continued engagement with our CCST community including staff, Fellows, Board members, Partners, and other stakeholders.

The pandemic and climate related events like drought, wildfire, and extreme heat have exacerbated and laid bare many of the systemic disparities faced by traditionally marginalized communities and individuals—underscoring the need for equitable approaches to build a resilient California.

Moving toward equity benefits everyone in our organization, and it furthers our mission to enhance California’s global leadership in science, technology, and innovation towards a healthy economy, society, and environment.

We highlight below three high level actions that have been taken and the subsequent actions that are currently underway toward our commitments that also reflect ongoing engagement with our stakeholders.

Sincerely,
Amber

Amber Mace, PhD
Executive Director
CCST

 


  1. The adoption of a strategic plan with DEI objectives, measurable milestones, newly defined core values, and workforce diversification objectives.
  • CCST has redesigned our strategic plan to integrate DEI objectives into all aspects of CCST’s organization and operations. CCST’s strategic plan for 2021-2026 defines promotion of DEI as one of three strategic goals, identifies DEI objectives and milestones, and incorporates language on DEI into our organizational values.
  • The Strategic Plan defines new core values with a foundation in DEI and adopts a more inclusive definition of science, in the context of CCST’s role in strengthening California’s policies with science and technology, in order to explicitly recognize the critical role of social and behavioral sciences in addressing questions of equity.
  • The Strategic Plan includes workforce diversification objectives with milestones for diversifying CCST’s Board, Fellows, and staff; creating a more inclusive organizational culture; and strengthening professional development to increase cross-cultural competencies. Additionally, we redesigned the portfolio of the Senior Advisor for Strategy and Transformation—hired to lead strategic planning and design a more inclusive workplace—to make DEI actions an explicit focus and priority.

Actions underway:

  • Developing internal work plans with metrics and reporting requirements to enable monitoring, assessment, and communication with stakeholders about progress in strategic plan implementation, including DEI objectives.

 

  1. Changing the way we recruit, select, and train our Fellows, staff, and Board of Directors to better meet CCST’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) objectives:
  • We revised our search image for Board members with an emphasis on diversity and recently recruited and appointed racially diverse Directors and achieved gender parity.
  • The Board established a DEI Committee with a dedicated role for a Fellow alum to improve Board support to CCST DEI initiatives.
  • CCST has continued to expand outreach to potential underrepresented applicants and to organizations that serve underrepresented groups in the sciences and engineering.
  • CCST updated Fellows selection criteria to remove gendered language, increase specificity of criteria (to reduce opportunities for implicit bias), reduce reputational emphasis in academic credentials, and increase emphasis on cross-cultural competencies.
  • CCST incorporated an implicit bias briefing into Fellows Selection Committee training and, building on mentorship training launched in 2019, in early 2021 CCST delivered training that enabled placement offices to share best practices for supporting Fellows.

Actions underway:

  • Continuing to update recruitment, selection, training, and professional development to reflect DEI objectives, refining S&T Policy Fellows training and professional development to incorporate more historical context and stories of and by people of color in California, and seeking and applying feedback from Fellows on the quality of mentorship and work experiences to inform future placement decisions.
  • Board is partnering with groups like the African American Board Leadership Institute to build our capacity to recruit a diverse slate of candidates for Board searches for currently open seats and future vacancies.
  • Staff partnering with external DEI and leadership consultants to update staff recruitment and hiring practices to incorporate best practices for promoting diversity and continuing to partner with external DEI experts on training, facilitation, and assessments to strengthen CCST processes and behaviors.

 

  1. The incorporation of a DEI lens to guide the design and delivery of our advisory support to California.
  • CCST’s Board of Directors approved a revised study process that integrates questions of equity and the social sciences into the design of our peer-reviewed reports with inclusion of diversity as criteria for steering committee selection.
  • We launched the Disaster Resilience Initiative as CCST’s first major initiative to systematically apply an equity lens and integrate the social sciences, informing our expert briefings, workshops, and studies.
  • As an example, CCST adjusted the scope of our wildfire study and targeted topics of briefings to explicitly address questions of equity, including the disparate impacts of wildfire smoke, extreme heat, and compounding disasters on disadvantaged and minority communities.

 


About the California Council on Science and Technology
The California Council on Science and Technology is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization established via the California State Legislature — making California’s policies stronger with science and technology since 1988. We engage leading experts in science and technology to advise State policymakers — ensuring that California policy is strengthened and informed by scientific knowledge, research, and innovation.

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