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SLAS Statement -- and Actions -- to Address Racism and Inequality

These are challenging times. COVID-19 still has its grip on many of us across the world—in some places for a second wave or a prolonged first wave. Added to that, the ongoing response to the killing of Black men and women by police officers in the U.S. and the public’s work to uproot systemic racism around the world, it feels like a very long fuse has finally met the powder keg.

After the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis, MN, police officer in May, many organizations communicated their stand against racism. At SLAS, we took these sentiments to heart and agreed. But as we contemplated the issue and what our own message should be, we had to first take a hard look at ourselves. The SLAS community reflects the level of diversity that exists in the greater STEM community—mostly White, followed by Asian, with few Brown or Black members. Instead of immediately posting a message of support against racism, we looked at what actions we could take that would begin to change that inequality.

After some research, discussion and reflection we decided to make a donation to the Student Programs of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE). We have reached out to the association’s leaders and are working on ways we can collaborate and advance minority students in STEM fields by funding a joint scholarship that will positively impact and propel the next generation of scientists.

Additionally, the SLAS Board of Directors and professional team continue to take additional steps to expand the dialogue on racism and equality.

  • The SLAS Board of Directors considered at its meeting this month how SLAS can better reflect diversity at our leadership levels as we contemplate our next round of board nominations.
  • SLAS CEO Vicki Loise participated in an enlightening Association Forum Conversation Circle on “The Impact of Race on Women’s Leadership Journeys” in late June, with Wylecia Wiggs Harris, Ph.D., CAE, CEO of the American Health Information Management Association, and moderated by Kimberly Mosley, CAE, CPE, president of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association.
  • SLAS Scientific Director Mike Tarselli, Ph.D., doubled down on his Wikipedia experience with entries on Aicha Evans, Anabella Villalobos, Seble Wagaw and Nita Madhav, among others as part of a recent edit-a-thon focused on diversity in STEM, hosted by the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics.

SLAS has always, and will always, stand against racism. But if we have all learned one thing in recent months, it’s that saying we are opposed to something is not enough. Actions are the only way change can happen. We recognize our actions will not solve a very complicated problem. But we also recognize that even a small action, paired with millions of others, can begin to break down the walls of inequality. So, I ask you to think about what actions you can take, no matter the size, to stop racism and work toward equality for all.

Vicki Loise, CMP, CAE

Chief Executive Officer, SLAS

 

 

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Contact Information:
Jill Hronek, Director of Marketing Communications
Telephone: +1.630.256.7527, ext. 103
E-mail:  jhronek@slas.org

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