Following up on an article from June 25, 2020, we want to let you know how we’re taking action for the 2021 information architecture conference to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. We ask that you hold us accountable and make suggestions for how we can continuously improve our efforts.
Our action plan
Diversify our scholarship criteria
Since 2018, the IAC’s Scholarship Program has offered around 30 full scholarships—covering the cost of registration, airfare, and hotel—mainly to people of color. Vanessa Foss, Kunverj and IAC Advisory Board member, says that this initiative was born out of the need for more representation and to build awareness of the participation of people of color in the information architecture field. This year, we will continue our efforts with these same goals in mind, but we will expand our criteria to further highlight diversity, equity, and inclusivity within the field. Our scholarships will be available to:
- Students identifying as black, Indigenous, or a person of color (BIPOC)
- Students identifying as LGBTQIA+
- Students with a disability
- Anyone whose employment has been affected by COVID-19 or other circumstances
Create meaningful mentorship opportunities
Mentorship comes in different forms and at different times. The IAC is a space where mentorships are formed and continued. We have offered many opportunities for mentorship including portfolio reviews, 1-on-1 career advice sessions, and group mentoring. Besides these options, we want to ensure that we create meaningful opportunities to connect, learn from one another, and to continue to foster and build on these relationships well after the IAC. To do this, we will:
- Establish a pledge for mentors and mentees to stay invested during and after the conference.
- Create conference circles or birds of a feather sessions to encourage peer-to-peer learning.
- Create a roadmap for the mentor-mentee relationship to aid relationship development beyond the conference.
- Update our selection criteria for mentors to ensure a diverse selection of mentors.
Provide speaker support for new or novice IAC speakers
Speaking in front of a new crowd at an unfamiliar venue can be difficult, even if the topic is familiar. Recognizing this, now almost 10 years ago, Adam Polansky recognized this and started an effort to support new or novice speakers to the conference. This year, we will continue to support speakers at every stage of the process—from putting a submission together to rehearsing a talk. As we develop our speaker support program, we will all be able to share our plans for guiding speakers and presenters in adapting their content to the virtual environment.
Reimagine the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Roundtable
“Diversity is going to the party. Inclusion is being on the party-planning committee.” [Verna Meyers]
We will continue our efforts, started in 2018 and continued in 2019, to offer a safe space to discuss issues, ideas, and solutions surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion as they relate to the IAC and the field. Going virtual allows us to experiment and to offer a series of virtual roundtables. We will encourage first-time conference attendees and newcomers to the field to take part in the discussion to bring a fresh perspective. Following the sessions, we will compile the feedback from each DEI roundtable, translate these outcomes to action, and share this information with the community via the IAC blog.
Update our code of conduct and provide safe ways to report misconduct
The possibility for bad actors exists at every conference. With that, your mental, emotional, and physical safety is one of our priorities and will help to make a great experience, even for a virtual conference. The IAC Code of Conduct is reviewed annually to address any gaps or changes that are needed. We offer an anonymous reporting form in the case of misconduct.
Broaden our community
Representation matters always! IAC continues to recognize the need to diversify its community to ensure it has a variety of perspectives, experiences, skill sets, and knowledge. In the past, IAC has proactively reached out to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to increase student participation. However, we recognize outreach alone is not enough, and this year, we hope to expand IAC’s connection to all institutions of learning. To do this, we will:
- Deepen our existing relationships with HBCUs.
- Establish new relationships with community colleges, high schools, bootcamps, and other non-traditional information architecture, user experience, and design programs.
- Identify and share information on non-traditional programs with the community.
Continuously improve with your help
We will provide ways for you to offer feedback on our efforts. The DEI Roundtable is one avenue, but in the meantime tell us what you think about our plans and your prior experience with IAC, or provide suggestions for future improvements.
Planning to attend IAC21? Learn more about our theme.
If you’d like to help, please sign up to volunteer for the IAC21.
Written by MaShana Davis with contributions by Cassini Nazir, Grace Lau, Teresa Nguyen, and Agnes Kiss.