Equal Measures Archive

Equal Measures Archive

Employee Inclusivity In a Virtual World
AUTM Insight, V2, Issue #11
May 20, 2020
By Megan Aanstoos, PhD

Chair, AUTM Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Committee

In addition to concerns over budget, research laboratory closures and moving institutional services online, employers also must keep inclusion practices in mind during today’s “new normal.” Over the last two months, many of us have had to make drastic changes to our working styles. We have relocated offices to our homes (or those of family), alongside our partners, children and pets so that we can continue to work and protect our society. However, that move has been easier for some than others. While members of the EDI committee contemplate what has and hasn’t worked, we thought we’d share some thoughts on expansion of inclusion and equity for future planning.

First, it is important to recognize that not everyone has the same level of access. Socioeconomic diversity means that someone may not have steady internet, a quiet, safe place to work, or the ability to balance childcare with full-time job responsibilities. Flexibility in scheduling and availability can help alleviate stress and provide a more meaningful and productive work experience. Training and advanced conversations to prepare staff can be helpful as well.

Second, even with steady internet, a reliable computer and a place to work, inclusivity means also providing accessibility accommodations that may not have been needed within the office. This can include things like captioning for calls, establishing video use for virtual meetings, screen readers and allowing employees to take home monitors, standing desks and other office equipment.  

Third, there are ways to help support employee mental health as well as provide physical accommodations. This can include daily team check-in meetings, happy hour events, team building exercises, webinars and even arts & craft projects, like painting Mandala power words on stones to keep at a home desk. (Images provided by AUTM Chair-Elect, Laura Savatski)

Fourth, employers need to build flexibility into their plans for bringing employees back to their offices. Employees might have children who are still at home, be immunocompromised or even be located out of state. Partners at home may be at risk from public facing occupations in healthcare, retail services or others. To help keep everyone safe, employers need to be aware of individual needs and be adaptive and inclusive in developing return-to-workplace plans.

As employers adjust workflow and duties to this “new normal,” it is essential to include inclusivity and equality considerations and be thoughtful of individual needs when exploring new ways of operating.

Drive EDI by Partnering with MSIs in Your Area
AUTM Insight, V2, Issue #9
April 22, 2020
By Cedric D’Hue, D’Hue Law

AUTM’s Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Committee has been tasked with creating a plan on how to work with third parties to improve technology transfer outcomes at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs) in the US, and identifying funding mechanisms to assist. The Outreach and Education (O&E) subgroup, co-chaired by myself and Taunya Phillips, Senior Director of New Ventures at The University of Kentucky, has met to review and discuss information on developing strategic partnerships.

We began with a review of recent articles, including HBCU’s Sink-or-Swim Moment from the October 21, 2019 New York Times, and then began our outreach to underrepresented institutions. We spoke with a current and a former director of an HBCU technology transfer office, the Vice-President of Development at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Senior Director of STEM Programs and Initiatives at the United Negro College Fund for their takes on effective programs. We also spoke with the Patent Training Foundation about its program to provide opportunities for HBCU law students to participate as teams with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

O&E will continue its efforts to support AUTM in strengthening strategic partnerships with HBCUs and other MSI’s, government entities and industry associations such as University Industry Demonstration Partnership (UIDP), National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE), Intellectual Property Owners (IPO) and National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine (NASEM). The underrepresentation of women, people of color and other groups in industries such as Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) has been documented by numerous organizations. NASEM recently published an important study, Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine and hosted a Symposium on Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in STEMM. Both confirmed the effectiveness of an intentional, evidence-based approach for improving the landscape of STEMM (STEM plus Medicine), and the research outlines educational interventions for improving recruitment and retention, effective practices for addressing gender disparities and other underrepresented groups, and overcoming barriers to implementation. IPO is scheduled to release a new guide to Diversity and Inclusion to the legal profession.

While the EDI Committee is limited to a small number of participants, the Special Interest Group (SIG) for Women Inventors, and the recently created SIG for Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) offers many opportunities for participation by interested AUTM Members. The purpose of D&I SIG is twofold: (1) to support the achievement of a workforce composed of people who proportionally represent the diverse populations that contribute to technology transfer around the world, and (2) to create an environment in which all AUTM Members feel valued, included, and empowered to work toward the advancement of technology transfer. Its mission is to foster discussion and understanding of diversity and inclusion as a dynamic strategy to support and advance technology transfer worldwide.

Our committee welcomes input on this important, ongoing EDI conversation. Email your comments to me, or to our Chair, Megan Aanstoos.

AUTM Drives Ongoing EDI Conversation
AUTM Insight, V2, Issue #7
March 25, 2020
By Megan Aanstoos, PhD

Chair, AUTM Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Committee

Diversity is important in driving employee satisfaction and business success. Many companies have responded to recently published studies demonstrating these figures by forming new offices or C-suite level roles aimed at improvement. AUTM similarly recognizes and values diversity as essential to a vibrant workforce and community. However, diversity alone is not enough; to make meaningful and permanent changes in operation and culture, companies also need to incorporate inclusion and equality.

To integrate these components, AUTM formed an Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Committee, tasked with helping holistically guide its Board of Directors, Cabinet and Membership in creating a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive organization. The Committee operates in conjunction with other committees and special interest groups to provide education, policy recommendations, and programming to the AUTM community. The first goal was to implement changes within AUTM itself (e.g. diversifying panels in -programming) and leading by example. The second is, over time, to provide information to Members on how to address EDI in their tech transfer offices (TTOs) and provide guidance to those in the profession at large.

In order to implement change, you need to identify where to start. Below are the general principles behind EDI: 
  • Equity – Acknowledging everyone is not starting from the same place, but when addressed, ensures that everyone has access to the same opportunities by correcting the disparity 
  • Diversity – Measureable similarities and differences of individuals as related to a larger group (example: gender, race, disability)    
  • Inclusion – Providing the best possible conditions to support and promote diverse people and ideas by ensuring fair access, respect, and recognition of the values that each individual contributes 
Our committee consists of members with diverse representation across academia, industry, government, genders, ages, races and experience levels. The committee began its work in July 2019. Since formation, we have provided support to AUTM on policy language (ex. the SUCCESS Act), engaged with underrepresented institutions through outreach efforts, assisted in helping bring more diversity to panels for meetings, and provided general guidance. Our advice led quickly to changes at the AUTM Annual Meeting that we were excited for everyone to see, like better captioning, translation and transcription of major speeches, pronoun name badge ribbons, and a private room for nursing mothers. These inclusive opportunities inspired sponsors to cover expenses and were implemented quickly to make a real difference in the Annual Meeting inclusion. While none of us got to experience these changes first hand, some (like captioning all webinars and video content) are now an official part of operations. We can’t wait for Seattle in 2021!

Over the next year, the EDI committee plans to create a toolkit to help guide Members, refine and publish our Statement of Values, host a panel on diversity in TTOs, provide assistance for responses to upcoming legislation, and provide education and outreach to minority TTOs. 

We look forward to having ongoing conversations about EDI and engaging with our AUTM colleagues and others in the broader technology transfer field on how to create more equitable, diverse, and inclusive environments. We want to position AUTM on the leading edge of EDI in the global research commercialization ecosystem to make a better world—for everyone. 

Meet the new EDI Committee:
  • Megan Aanstoos – Chair
  • Cedric d’Hue
  • Nichole Mercier
  • Clay Christian
  • Taunya Phillips
  • Karen Maples
  • Dimitra Georganopoulou
  • Almesha Campbell
  • Tanaga Boozer
  • Gayatri Varma