Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Falling Short, Aiming to Do Better

Last month, I posted the CDSN's response to the George Floyd murder and protests.  Those events reminded me that the CDSN was formed in part to foster a more diverse and inclusive defence and security community and that we have not done enough.  This week's post at Duck of Minerva by Carla Norrlöf and Cheng Xu reminded me that I had been meaning to post about what I have been doing and what the CDSN has been doing to do better.

First, a few years ago, a series of posts about networking in IR and poli sci spurred me to do better--that many of our social media feeds are bubbles of homogeneity.  As a result, I became more conscious of adding new people to follow on twitter, following in particular younger scholars, journalists, think tank types from various communities that are not my own.

Second, I started consulting Women Also Know Stuff and People of Color Also Know Stuff before conferences to find people I didn't know but who work in areas related to my research so that I could arrange coffee or whatever at conferences.  My networks have mostly been white so this was an effort to diversify them.  And the meetings were delightful and informative, and much of the future of civil-military relations is female. Alas, COVID has interrupted this effort.

Third, as I worked with others to build the Canadian Defence and Security Network, there was the Defence Policy Review of 2016, which usually meant that I attended meetings where I was one of the youngest people in the room, and the rooms were almost entirely male and entirely white.  So, we set as an objective:

Build the next generation of defence and security experts in academia, in government and in the private sector, with an emphasis on equity, diversity and inclusion 
We made sure the leadership team was diverse--but I focused on two dimensions--gender and language.  Half of our co-directors are women and about half are Francophones.  I was not as attentive to racial or ethnic diversity nor did I aim to have representation from the LGBTQ2S community.  Our Advisory Board does have two members of the racialized community thanks in part to leadership turnover of one of our partners.  

To be clear, we have been better at reaching out to less well represented groups at the more junior levels.  The emerging scholars that we have featured on our podcast, at our Capstone event, and our post-doc competition come from a variety of groups and backgrounds.  The team of RAs at Carleton have been entirely from racialized communities.  

One of the challenges we face is that there are no equivalents to Women in International Security-Canada.  As we built the CDSN, we included WIIS-C in our partnership and put its head on our Advisory Board to make sure we take seriously the inclusion of women at all levels of our activities.  While there are various organizations in the US, such as Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security, Out in National Security, and Diversity in International Security Network, none exist in Canada.

We have organized diversity panels at our last few Year Ahead conferences to talk through the strategies of organizing defence/security organizations that represent the interests of marginalized communities.

However, we lack representation at the higher levels of our organization.  So, since early June, I have been reaching out to senior Canadian IR scholars from racialized communities, and I have been networking with other networks to see what they have been doing to improve their diversity.  

So, I have tried, but not consistently, and we are not where we want to be.  We, as an organization, will continue the conversations and figure out strategies and tactics that foster a more inclusive environment and hopefully a more diverse organization and network.  I will report back from time to time on these efforts.  We welcome any suggestions that might help us achieve our objective.


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