Fatimah Stone Appointed Interim Director

Fatimah Stone, assistant general counsel at the University of Delaware, has been appointed interim director of the University’s Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI), Alan Brangman, executive vice president and University treasurer, announced today. Her appointment was effective April 27.

Stone, who previously served as senior associate director of OEI, is filling in for Sue Groff, who is currently on leave.

Fatimah Stone is serving as interim director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion.

“I am grateful to Fatimah Stone for taking on this interim assignment with our Office of Equity and Inclusion,” Alan Brangman, executive vice president and University treasurer. “Her extensive knowledge of the University and of the work of OEI, coupled with her experience in higher education human resources, will serve the University well. I look forward to working with her as she takes on this important task.”

During this assignment, Stone will continue to serve as the senior legal counsel for NIIMBL (the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals), a Manufacturing USA institute headquartered at UD and funded by the federal government to advance United States competitiveness in advanced manufacturing innovation.

Stone joined UD in 2015 as senior associate director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion. Before coming to Delaware, she served as a human resources consultant at the University of Notre Dame, where she was responsible for conducting staff investigations in response to employees’ discrimination and sexual harassment complaints filed with that university’s Office of Institutional Equity. Earlier, she was a transactional attorney in New Orleans, Louisiana.

A member of the Louisiana State Bar Association, the National Association of College and University Attorneys and the Association of Corporate Counsel, Stone earned her undergraduate degree at Fairleigh-Dickinson University and a law degree from Tulane Law School.

Source: https://www.udel.edu/udaily/2018/april/fatimah-stone-interim-director-oei/

Listening & Learning

Listening & Learning

Learning is a lifelong process, and adding to your social justice toolkit is something we can all continue to do. Here at OEI, we love our podcasts, and would like to share a few you may find of particular interest as you enhance your skills. Go ahead and add them to your list for the drive home!

Intersection, with Jamil Smith

Another Round

About Race

Latino USA

We Want the Airwaves, by Nia King

Conversations with People Who Hate Me

Pod Save the People with DeRay

Hidden Brain

Backtalk

Code Switch – NPR

 

Considerations for Allies

In our current social and political climate, there is no question that we have work left to do when it comes to combating the oppressive forces that pull at the very fabric of our identity as a nation. For those of us in seemingly privileged positions, these forces may not be daily considerations as we go about our lives, heading to and from work, and tackling the daily projects that occupy our time. However, that is all the more reason why it is important that we accept the responsibility we have as allies for fostering change and promoting inclusive excellence.

Very often, as Jenn and I speak with members of the UD community, we are presented with a very straight-forward, but far from simple question. “What can I do?” This is feeling of confusion can be overwhelming in the face of so much turmoil and so many concerns. It can seem a daunting task as we speak with our colleagues and truly begin to realize just how different our life experiences can be from the person one office over. However, there are many direct strategies we can employ as we strive to be allies for social justice!

Assume oppression is everywhere…because it is everywhere. Just as we breath the air around us but forget it’s there, it’s important to remember that racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression are everywhere, and they influence all of our actions. It’s important to think critically about how these forces influence our actions, as well as those of our colleagues, family members, and friends. Once we recognize who has a voice, who doesn’t have a voice, and how those voices are received, we can begin to understand the scope of oppression in our daily lives.

Recognize how oppression is discussed. Do we talk about these oppressive forces, or do we hear folks denying their presence and impact in our lives? Are people making other excuses for oppressive behavior? Are racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forces being downplayed around us? If and when we can answer yes to these questions, then we begin to see not only why it’s a difficult conversation to have, but more importantly why it’s such an important conversation to have with others.

Notice who is at the table. When you walk into meetings, attend events, or go about your work day, notice who is present and who isn’t present. Notice who has power in those settings and who doesn’t have power. Recognize not only who is speaking, but how their comments are received and respected.

Avoid personal attacks. There is a big difference between stating that something that someone SAID was racist/sexist/homophobic, and calling that person racist/sexist/homophobic. Focus on comments and actions, and avoid personal attacks. You can discuss the nature of a comment, but you can’t support a personal attack on someone’s character.

Be ready to slip. All of us slip up from time-to-time. No matter how long you spend discussing issues of oppression, you are going to say something inappropriate and instantly regret it. Be open to that feedback without getting defensive. Being an ally means constantly learning better to do better.

Build alliances. We can’t do this work alone, and we can’t do it in silos. Find others who are committed and collaborate on projects. Attend workshops. Read more. Learn more. Look for opportunities to educate family and friends around you. If you are a parent, talk to your children about these ideas. They see it and experience it everyday too, and it’s important for them to have the knowledge and language to address it as well.

There is no quick fix for the problems tugging at the fabric of our society, but finding our place in the solution is an important step. We all have a role to play in creating a community based on inclusive excellence, and we are ask excited as ever to participate in that journey with you!

Hacking the Gender Pay Gap

Technological innovation has addressed some of the largest problems in the world over the years. We have focused our collective computing intelligence on a great many issues, ranging from education to environmental protection. However, I do not normally associate an intentional combination of 1s and 0s with solutions to issues such as sexism, racism, and homophobia. However, this past weekend, I had the unique opportunity to think about how to combine my vocation and my passion to address a nagging social problem that politicians, educators, and researchers have yet to fully solve. My goal was to hack the pay gap.

More precisely, I was part of a team of diverse individuals that came together as part of The Breaking the Mold Hackathon. The event, which was organized by the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Sloan Women in Management, was designed to “hack” unconscious bias in many different forms and generate real world solutions beyond simply discussing issues and concerns. Although the event was modeled on more traditional hackathons, which are typically more tech-centered, and tasked with developing technology-based solutions, this event took a slightly different and more structured path towards solutions.

I prepared for the event by broadening my general knowledge and prior experience exploring the gender pay gap from a feminist multicultural perspective, and looking to business and industry for common narratives and responses to the problem. Several significant solutions, including pay transparency, the elimination of negotiation during the offer process, and providing women with negotiation training, have all been proposed and attempted in recent years by large and small companies and organizations. They all offer a partial solution, but do not necessarily get to the heart of the problem, namely the unconscious bias that causes employers to pay women less for the same work in the first place.

Our group chose to re-conceptualize the gender pay gap as a compensation equity gap. This notion better takes into account not only significant differences in base salary, but also benefits, promotions, retirement packages, bonuses, and other aspects of compensation that traditionally disadvantage women. We developed a software platform that would allow organizational leaders to assess their workforce and directly target the actions and environment within their organizations to effect real change. This change would become a priority within the organization by linking it to the very compensation of organizational leaders themselves.

The idea generation, development, and implementation process was fast-paced, buoyed by diverse perspectives from participants in various fields and industries, and resulted in some highly innovative thinking. Within higher education especially, we spend a great deal of time discussing problems, convening meetings and forming committees, and doing research. All of these pieces are crucial to the process of social change, but they are only as important as the priority that is placed on action.

The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1964. We have been discussing these discrepancies for over 50 years, and have moved the needle very little. This event was an important reminder that talking will only get you so far. Not only are we capable of acting, building, creating, and changing, but we must do so. We must continue to push ourselves to think about how we can hack the problems that plague us and strive to create real, tangible change in the process. Thus, my challenge to each of you is to think about how you can move from discussing to hacking!

Social Justice: Moving from Awareness to Action

The question of how we define and understand social justice and justice more broadly is one that has engaged the minds of scholars for centuries. Although social justice is generally viewed as revolving around the notion of equality, it can be viewed much more broadly. The works of Rawls (1999) and Miller (1999) are perhaps recent foundational conceptions of social justice, but they follow a lineage that dates back to Aristotle and Plato.

If we attempt to incorporate various recent philosophical views (Elster, 1992; Feinberg, 1973; Frankena, 1962; Miller, 1999; Rawls, 1999) into a unifying definition of social justice, we are left with a set of real or ideal circumstances which satisfy three main criteria (Jost and Kay, 2010). This justice-oriented state exists when

(a) benefits and burdens in society are dispersed in accordance with some allocation principle (or set of principles); (b) procedures, norms, and rules that govern political and other forms of decision making preserve the basic rights liberties, and entitlements of individuals and groups; and (c) human beings (and perhaps other species) are treated with dignity and respect not only by authorities but also by other relevant social actors, including fellow citizens” (Jost and Kay, 2010, p.1122).

Although considerable debates over these elements persists (see Campbell, 2001; Miller, 1999), more fundamental questions lie at the heart of the discussion. Which rights and liberties are reasonable in society? What does treating others with respect and dignity actually look like? These fundamental questions form the foundation for current social justice movements as collaborative and opposing groups and individuals attempt to define these parameters.

Throughout history, social justice movements have identified differences in the rights and liberties afforded to individuals, and the manner in which members of society extend respect and dignity to each other. This process of identification has existed as a form of awareness and often led to action on the part of those individuals who identified discrepancies. Activists have repeatedly made it clear that benefits and burdens have not been allocated evenly in our society, and the basic norms and rules that govern our society have, in part, served to preserve those discrepancies. This has led to many members of our society not being treated with basic respect and dignity.

This awareness of social inequity and injustice is the result of a long lineage of scholars and activists making their claims, logically defending them, and challenging others to see their point-of-view. What was once series of independent and sometimes isolated movements has evolved into an intersecting web of social awareness and education. We literally have the knowledge at our fingertips and filling our inboxes and news feeds on a daily basis. There is truly no excuse for not being AWARE of inequity and injustice in this world.

Thus, I believe it’s time that we move past awareness as a goal in social justice work. Awareness should be the status quo. It should be the baseline expectation for those of us who claim to be committed to social justice. For Rawls (1999), social justice is a freely entered into contract to abide by certain regulations for the betterment of society, regardless of individual benefit. He has no expectation that everyone will agree on what action is required for social justice in various situations, but that people will ultimately agree that some action is required, regardless of differing moral, religious, or philosophical beliefs. Furthermore, Miller (1999) argues that “justice fundamentally requires us to treat people as equals; or we should understand justice as what people would agree to in advance of knowing their own stake in the decision to be reached” (p. 87).

The defining element in social justice must then become action. We are past the point where not being aware of the injustices negatively impacting millions of Americans on a regular basis should be an allowable state of being. The information is out there, the voices are loud, and it is everyone’s responsibility to listen. As educators, we must begin to expect awareness as a baseline and insist on engaging in more intentional dialogue about action for social justice. Everyone has the responsibility to decide for themselves what rights and responsibilities are reasonable, and what treating others with respect and dignity looks like, but we also have the responsibility to listen to others. Sometimes that means acting on their behalf, even if we don’t have a stake in the issue. As a democratic society, we all ultimately have a stake in every issue in some way.

So, my invitation to you is to accept awareness as a basic expectation, and continue to educate yourself and others. There will always be folks that need a bit more guidance, and it will always be important to make that information readily available in the spaces where they will be accessed. However, don’t stop there. Have conversations, listen to people, get involved in your community, and work to educate others. Decide to ACT for social justice.

References

Campbell, T. (2001). Justice (2nd Ed.). New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Elster, J. (1992). Local justice: How institutions allocate scarce goods and necessary burdens. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Feinberg, J. (1973). Social philosophy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Frankena, W. K. (1962). The concept of social justice. In R. B. Brandt (Ed.), Social justice (pp. 1-29). Englewood, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Jost, J.T., & Kay, A.C. (2010). Social Justice: History, Theory, and Research. In S. T. Fiske (Ed.), Handbook of social psychology (Vol. 3, pp. 1122-1165). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Miller, D. (1999). Principles of social justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Rawls, J. (1999). A theory of justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.