Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Technical Communication (Article Review)

Wendy Ross is former President of the Rochester Chapter of STC. She tackles an important topic in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Technical Communication. As she puts it in the article, “in order to recruit and train the best talent and to bring a diverse set of ideas and perspectives to the work we do, companies and professional organizations need to take steps to create inclusive spaces for employees, members, and volunteers.”

She points out that technical communicators and educators have probably learned about how it is important to work with and reach a diverse group of people. This can include an international audience and those with diverse cultural, religious, ethnic, and social backgrounds. 

She also points out that individuals working in academia often get encouragement and support concerning how to work with this diversity. Schools have developed diversity and inclusion programs in many cases with one such office at Cuyahoga Community College (in NE Ohio). 

Wendy notes that “for professionals in companies across the U.S., the movement has been slower.” She states the following.

“Technology companies such as Google and Xerox have led the way. Recognizing the need to recruit the best tech talent, these companies created employee resource groups to support diverse employees, while also educating their traditional employees on diversity and inclusion. To learn more about Google and Xerox activities, see the Google Diversity Annual Report and the Xerox Diversity brochure.”

Wendy covers an impressive scope of ideas in her article as you can see in the following.

“Inclusion is actively seeking to make people welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate at work. Employers have tried to be more inclusive by creating employee resource groups. Other examples include establishing private areas in the company for employees to practice religion or for breast milk extraction. Verna Myers calls this “being asked to dance at the party.”

“Equity is fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all employees, and striving to identify and eliminate barriers that prevent the full participation of some groups. A common example is making an office wheelchair-accessible. A growing example is that set by SAP; the company hires talented programmers with autism and trains and supports the employees in their corporate social skills.”

“Today, equality is not enough. The times demand equity. This image shows the important differences. For equality, we can provide the same support for everyone, but for equity, we provide support based on individual needs.”

Wendy is the Diversity and Inclusion Director of the Rochester Chapter of the Project Management Institute. She notes that in this role she has “much to learn” as do we all.

By Jeanette Evans