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Diversity and Inclusion Focus of the Proactive Diversity Task Group

Diversity and Inclusion Focus of the Proactive Diversity Task Group

By ASHRAE Proactive Diversity Task Group

The Board of Directors approved a Diversity Commitment for the Society at the Orlando 2020 ASHRAE Winter Conference in February (see “ASHRAE’s Diversity Commitment” below).

ASHRAE Presidential Member Darryl Boyce, P.Eng., Fellow/Life Member ASHRAE, and 2020–21 ASHRAE President Chuck Gulledge, P.E., Fellow ASHRAE, formed the Proactive Diversity Task Group in June 2020 to recommend detailed programs and initiatives that will seek to eliminate all forms of discrimination and social injustice, and proactively drive diversity, through all levels within ASHRAE.

The Task Group, which includes appointees from underrepresented groups in ASHRAE, is meeting regularly to formulate an action plan to embed an inclusive approach to diversity within ASHRAE. The Task Group’s efforts will build on ASHRAE’s current commitments to diversity and inclusion by exploring when and why the ASHRAE culture may be marginalizing underrepresented groups and reexamining our policies, programs and procedures against current law and best practices.

The Task Group established five goals for the initiative (following a facilitated work session with the board in August of 2020):

  1. Communicate a compelling rationale for diversity and inclusion in engineering, the HVAC&R industry and ASHRAE.
  2. Develop an understanding of the diversity profile of those in engineering, the HVAC&R industry and ASHRAE relating to education, training, employment and membership.
  3. Understand and remove barriers to diversity and inclusion through programs, education and advocacy.
  4. Identify metrics and then measure and report on impact.
  5. Lead the way in demonstrating good diversity in practice.

Building a stronger culture of equality, diversity and inclusion in ASHRAE will help the Society be more creative, innovative, and resilient, drive group performance and improve member and staff retention. The aim is to remove barriers experienced by underrepresented groups and strongly articulate the need for participation of those groups in ASHRAE. The Society’s call to action will start with ASHRAE’s membership and staff, extend through the HVAC&R industry and engineering profession and finally to promoting STEM education programs to children, schools and educators.

We need to support an inclusive culture that will inspire, attract, train and retain more women, disabled, LGBTQ+ and younger people from all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds to engineering, HVAC&R employment and ASHRAE membership. Of particular importance is using our student branches to attract and retain interested and committed members.

Creating diversity is one focus, but of equal importance is nurturing a culture of inclusion in which regardless of abilities, disabilities or health-care needs, all are respected and appreciated. Achieving this will challenge everyone at all levels of ASHRAE to consider how their behavior supports this vision and, if necessary, change to become more inclusive of collaborators, members and staff.  If ASHRAE’s culture is not inclusive, members will leave and discourage others from participating.

The Black Lives Matter movement and other events drawing attention to social inequalities led ASHRAE leaders to consider how ASHRAE is proactively supporting its Diversity Commitment. Over the coming months the Task Force will further promote how diversity and inclusion (D&I) can positively impact the strength of ASHRAE and the industry. The Task Force will introduce initiatives to improve ASHRAE’s D&I culture over the long term and benchmark our results.

The Task Group consists of Tim McGinn (chair), Robin Bryant, Sheila Hayter, Russell Lavitt, Dunstan Macauley, Andres Sepulveda and Tanisha Meyers-Lisle (staff). The Task Group is soliciting your input on our D&I objectives. We are giving members the opportunity to respond to an anonymous online survey on the subject. The link to the survey is https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VQ7XJWX and will be active until December 9, 2020. 

We have also set up an online form where you can anonymously submit comments and suggestions and share your aspirations on how ASHRAE and the industry can advance toward a more equitable model where people are treated fairly. The link for submitting comments is https://www.ashrae.org/communities/committees/feedback-on-ashrae-s-culture-of-diversity-and-inclusivity.

ASHRAE’s Diversity Commitment

“ASHRAE is committed to providing a welcoming environment. Our culture is one of inclusiveness, acknowledging the inherent value and dignity of everyone. We proactively pursue and celebrate diverse and inclusive communities, understanding that doing so fuels better, more creative and more thoughtful ideas, solutions and strategies for the Society and the communities our Society serves. We respect and welcome all people regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, physical appearance, thought styles, religion, nationality, socioeconomic status, belief systems, sexual orientation or education.”

ASHRAE’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy

ASHRAE has a Discrimination and Harassment Policy that strictly prohibits and does not tolerate discrimination against staff, members or applicants for membership because of such individual’s race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, physical or mental disability, pregnancy, genetic information, veteran status, uniformed service member status or any other category protected under applicable law.

ASHRAE has also provided special attention to the prohibition of sexual harassment within the policy. This year’s Presidential Award of Excellence program encourages Chapter Board of Governors for undertaking sexual harassment prevention training by viewing a series of online videos recommended by ASHRAE. This initiative will be extended to other ASHRAE volunteers soon.