How can TWS improve diversity in the field?

By Joshua Rapp Learn

Credit: Eric Titcombe

This article is part of a series focusing on topics addressed in upcoming TWS webinars. Hosted by TWS working groups, the monthly webinars engage wildlife professionals on a host of subjects relevant to their work. Learn more and register here.

Whether you’re a biologist, ecologist, wildlife manager or all of the above, a diverse set of knowledge, experience and technical know-how makes for the foundation of successful wildlife work. Likewise, having a profession composed of individuals with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and skill sets makes for a more comprehensive approach to wildlife science, policy and communication.

The Wildlife Society has been taking a number of steps to improve the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) of both organization and the wildlife profession as a whole. TWS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Vision and Opportunities for Engagement, a new webinar, taking place Tuesday, July 27 at 4:00 p.m. ET will discuss the development and implementation of TWS’ DEI Vision, current and future DEI efforts. It will also feature a panel discussion with TWS leaders.

The goal, as TWS Professional Development Coordinator Jamila Blake puts it, is nothing less than “an inclusive space that treats everyone with dignity and respect — that we embrace differences and empower each other to do the best work we can to reach conservation goals.”

The webinar will be divided into three parts. In the first part, speakers will discuss the final version of TWS’ Vision document on diversity, equity and inclusion approved by TWS Council and released in June with goals related to the 2019-2023 strategic plan.

“The approval of the vision document and engagement in discussions with members shows the investment of TWS Council,” Blake said. “Without active engagement from leadership, it’s difficult for diversity, equity and inclusion to become integrated in an organization.”

The document was the product of collaboration between members of TWS Council, staff and a number of TWS                members representing working groups such as the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Awareness Working Group, International Wildlife Management Working Group, the Native Peoples’ Wildlife Management Working Group and the Early Career Professional Working Group.

“I’m glad that it’s been such a collaborative process to get to where we are, and I hope that it continues,” Blake said. “We’ll need to have involvement from everyone to move toward a TWS that we’re all proud to belong to.”

Speakers will then discuss the progress TWS has made on diversity, equity and inclusion, the importance and value of this focus, and why the document was developed in the first place. Discussions will also center around initiatives for moving DEI goals forward, and how to integrate DEI into TWS policy.

“Hopefully, in 10 years, we have embraced the values and vision that have been outlined in the document and it’s second nature to incorporate this into the work we’re doing,” Blake said.

In the last part of the webinar, Blake will moderate the upcoming panel discussion with members of TWS Council and organization unit leaders driving DEI efforts through TWS and the profession, while TWS Director of Operations Cameron Kovach hosts the webinar.

Joshua LearnJoshua Rapp Learn is a science writer at The Wildlife Society. Contact him at jlearn@wildlife.org with any questions or comments about his article.

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