Commitment to Inclusion
By Lisa Carter, Vice Provost for Libraries and University Librarian
Each of our position postings includes this language “The Libraries at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are dedicated to the practices of social justice, diversity, equality, and respect among our staff, students, collections, and services. We strive to overcome historical and divisive biases in our society and embrace diverse points of view as assets to the fabric of our community. All positions will be called on to contribute to building this environment.” As a hopeful UW-Madison VPL, I was excited to see this commitment to these values front and center in the job posting.
Our organization is deeply invested in our pursuit of this commitment. In 2019, the Executive Team accepted the Equity and Diversity Committee’s Strategic Plan, which outlines a number of concrete steps our organization will take to enhance our work towards social justice, diversity, equality, and respect. We have articulated values of respect and inclusion that speak to our commitment to each other. But organizations are made up of individuals and successful practice of social justice, diversity, equality, and respect start with personal work.
I too am on a personal journey to improve my cultural competence and build skills in this area. In 2019, I was selected to participate as a career coach in ARL’s Leadership and Career Development Program. I learned as much from the LCDP Fellow I worked with as she might have learned from me. As part of this commitment, I completed DJA Consulting’s Equity Toolkit and participated in group video conferences to explore the lessons. In conjunction with IDEAL ‘19, I attended an Inclusive Leadership workshop along with 30+ other ARL directors facilitated by Alden Habacon who had previously presented at an ARL meeting. At the fall ARL Member Representatives meeting, I became the Vice-Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and we heard from a representative from the American Alliance of Museum’s Facing Change initiative. One of the tools that the Facing Change program offers and was mentioned by Alden Habacon in the Inclusive Leadership workshop is the Intercultural Development Inventory which is a tool that helps one understand where they currently are on a continuum of intercultural competence. Over winter break, I took the IDI and worked with a certified facilitator to identify the next steps in my own personal development. In the spring, I am honored that I will be working with a group of other campus administrators to work through several courses in a USC Equity Institute where we will enhance our knowledge of issues of racial equity in higher education. I look forward to putting the things I’m learning through these opportunities into action in my personal life, my interactions with colleagues, and as I work with Libraries staff to implement the EDC Strategic Plan.
As the Chancellor wrote in her recent blog post, “Working towards greater diversity and inclusion is not something you finish”. The work is collaborative and never ends. There is always the need to listen, learn, and improve, and I greatly appreciate that my colleagues here at the UW-Madison Libraries understand and actively participate in working toward creating a better climate for all.