The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) today announced two important actions to support increased diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in its work and its community. First, following Board approval of the NISO DEI Policy in January, a full DEI Committee has now been formed, led by NISO Board member Maria Stanton, who is Director of Production at Atla. Second, later this year, NISO will be hosting a workshop on DEI and standards, organized by the Committee, to help identify and prioritize key areas of opportunity and development.
The DEI Committee comprises 15 members from four countries, spanning all areas of NISO’s work — libraries, publishers, research infrastructure, services providers, and other representatives of the information community. They are charged with championing NISO’s DEI Policy to help achieve the organization’s goal of social justice in all its activities, including establishing priorities, identifying assessment criteria, and regularly monitoring and reporting on progress. The Committee will also serve as a resource to the NISO community, providing guidance on DEI issues and advocating for under-represented groups.
One of the Committee’s first tasks is to plan and implement the workshop on DEI and standards — an output of the recent NISO Plus 2021 conference. Several sessions at the conference focused specifically on DEI issues, and the topic was also raised in numerous other sessions, especially with regard to the need for improvements to metadata standards (for example, to meet indigenous knowledge requirements, make author diversity more discoverable, and address issues around bias in AI). The workshop will be held in at least two major time zones, to ensure global participation, and the findings will be shared publicly for community feedback.
“There’s no question that the language, metadata, and software we use creates barriers, as does the fundamental issue of access to resources,” said Maria Stanton. “The Committee’s job is to bring in the voice of the community, listen, and then help NISO establish priorities and best practices for standards-related work and activities that can help our community overcome systemic issues related to our industry’s handling of underrepresented and marginalized groups and perspectives. This is a real opportunity for NISO to use its unique position as a standards organization that brings together organizations and individuals from across the information industry, to improve equity, diversity, inclusion, and access within our community.”
“NISO has always strived to be a neutral and safe place for conversations around issues in our communities,” said Todd Carpenter, NISO’s Executive Director. “Fostering the development of activities around diversity and equity is a natural extension of our mission of inclusivity. Standards work is always improved by including the widest possible range of voices. By amplifying those voices and prioritizing the needs of previously marginalized communities, the outputs we produce will be enhanced. Ultimately, through this process, our work will better represent — and meet — the needs of our community.”
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