Valuing Every Voice

As many of you know, nearly a year ago we assembled an internal team (of which I am a member) whose role it is to review our culture, create recommendations, and help us strengthen our commitment to education, awareness, and collaboration — as well as ensure that prejudice and bias play no role in the ASTM culture.

As part of the group’s work, we read Building an Inclusive Organization by Stephen Frost and Raafi-Karim Alidina. We learned that while a diverse workforce is imperative, ensuring that an organization is also inclusive is the only way to leverage the benefits of that diverse workforce. Inclusion ensures that people feel supported, are treated fairly, and are therefore happier, more engaged, and more productive.

Over the past year, our team explored the topic of diversity and inclusiveness (D&I) in three aspects of the ASTM International environment: membership, governance, and staff. Together we worked to learn more about D&I and what organizational commitment to D&I means for both members and staff. We worked to form and articulate benefits and motivations for becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization, and we evaluated the process framework and possible program elements of a D&I program.

"Diversity is a fact; inclusion is a choice." – Stephen Frost and Raafi-Karim Alidina in Building an Inclusive Organization

Among a series of recommendations our group will make to our board of directors this fall, there are two that I would like to highlight.

The first is an emphasis on the belief that every voice is unique and so every voice matters. From the varied backgrounds of our board of directors, to the global footprint of our over 30,000 members from more than 160 nations, to the diverse array of our 275 staffers and consultants, every voice is unique, and that individual uniqueness drives our collective strength. It is the goal of our organization to foster an environment that values and elevates those voices from various backgrounds, cultures, and experiences.

Second is the creation of an ASTM International Diversity and Inclusion Council, a group of staff that acts on behalf of the organization to jumpstart and manage the D&I process. Together they will work to broadly address diversity and inclusion across the staff, membership, and governance of ASTM International. They will work closely with our leadership team to connect D&I activities with ASTM’s mission, strategies, and business plan objectives that support and accelerate diversity and inclusion goals.

The initial project was an important step for our organization. It has allowed us to reconfirm our core value that every voice is unique and every voice matters. It has empowered us to develop recommendations that will enliven and further strengthen our organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. It has created an opportunity for us to have candid and open discussions in which we’ve been able recognize good progress and also acknowledge that there is more to learn from each other, more empathy to cultivate, and more work to be done.

Although our group will finalize a report soon, we know that this is just the beginning of the journey. There is no one event, program, or set of goals to accomplish but an ongoing commitment to the right policies, practices, and interactions that will ultimately value and empower the uniqueness of each individual.

I am looking forward to what our diverse ASTM International community can accomplish together.

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