Door to the C-Suite still locked for many diverse candidates amid slow pace of change

Good to have this data indicating the need for change:

Nancy Tower knows just how important help from the highest echelons of corporate Canada can be for someone trying to break into the old boys’ club.

She was a promising worker when she started at Halifax-based energy company Emera Inc. in 1997, but said a “gender-blind” CEO gave her some advice that helped her ascend to become the president and chief executive at subsidiary Tampa Electric.

He prodded her to get experience in all areas of the business, making her a more well-rounded executive candidate, even if it was lonely at times.

“I was chief financial officer of Emera for six years and when I would attend conferences, most of the CFOs would be male. I didn’t have a lot of female colleagues,” Tower said. “I think the utility business does tip toward more males in senior positions.”

Despite the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements spurring a push for change across corporate Canada, data shows the country’s most powerful companies haven’t made much progress since Tower’s ascent.

Women are still significantly underrepresented at the top ranks of Canada’s most prominent and powerful companies. The figures are even lower for Black and Indigenous women and other marginalized groups.

A study from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found women accounted for about 10 per cent of named executive officers (NEOs) — a company’s most senior and highly compensated positions — at about 250 businesses in both 2017 and 2018, the most recent years it looked at.

Comparing those numbers to previous years is complicated — a common difficulty when reporting about underrepresented populations because figures haven’t been publicly available until recently and there is no standard methodology due to a wide range of data collection methods.

Still, the 10 per cent figure is in line with a 2018 Canadian Press analysis of TSX60 companies, which found less than eight per cent of the top paid management roles were held by women. For chief executive and chief financial officer, the number of women had actually decreased compared with five years earlier.

“The door to the C-Suite is locked for women. They can’t get in the door … That situation hasn’t changed at all,” said David Macdonald, a senior economist at the CCPA, an independent and non-partisan think tank that researches social, economic and environmental justice issues.

“If they do manage to get in the door somehow, then they will get paid less no matter what job they take.”

In each of the two years examined in the CCPA study, female named officers on average made 69 cents for every dollar made by their male counterparts. That represented an average pay gap of at least $900,000.

The situation can be even more bleak for people who are Indigenous, racialized or have disabilities. Studies say women from these groups are even less likely to be given top roles or paid as much as their male or white counterparts.

Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP research from 2020 showed 32 per cent of companies had at least one executive officer who identifies as a visible minority. Out of the 205 companies that disclosed data, just two had at least one executive officer who is Indigenous and five had people with disabilities in top positions.

“When women make gains, it is not all women,” said Sen. Ratna Omidvar. “I’ve been told the rising tide lifts all boats, but that is not what I see.”

Omidvar pushed for amendments in 2018 to the Canada Business Corporations Act that would have required publicly traded companies to disclose the number of women and people from “equity-seeking groups” on their boards and in senior management.

Governance and diversity advocates supported similar measures as a way to encourage progress at a faster pace.

In 2015, the Ontario Securities Commission introduced a “comply-or-explain” requirement for TSX-listed companies to disclose annually how many women are on their board and in executive officer positions, and whether there are targets in place. If a company does not have a policy, it must explain why.

Since then, the share of board seats held by women has increased to 17 per cent from 11 per cent and there has been a decline in the share of boards with no women. Even so, almost half  — 46 per cent — of companies still do not have any women in executive officer positions, according to the latest numbers from the OSC.

The Nasdaq stock exchange earlier this month filed a proposal with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a comply-or-explain regulation that would require most listed companies to have at least two diverse directors or explain why they cannot meet the mandate.

Yet the proposed changes to Canadian law failed because critics argued businesses shouldn’t be overregulated, Omidvar said.

“I was actually completely shattered, but this is politics,” she said.

If the vote was held again, she is confident it would tilt in her favour. Not only are similar measures gaining traction, the country reached a “tipping point” after the May death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in U.S. police custody.

Floyd’s death resulted in mass protests across the U.S. and Canada and prompted business leaders to pledge to do more to help underrepresented groups.

Manon Brouillette, the former chief executive and president of Quebecor Inc. subsidiary Videotron, said impostor syndrome — where people feel like they are inexperienced or don’t belong in some jobs — plays a big role too.

“When I joined Videotron in 2004, I was the only executive woman at the table, but my (bigger) fear was that I was 10 years younger than other guys,” said Brouillette, who spent almost 15 years at the company and now serves on boards for companies including the National Bank of Canada.

“A lot of women really want to be experts in something before doing it.” Luckily for her, she said, “I’m not scared of failure, so I take more risk.”

Brouillette prods other women to push for a higher salary or apply for new roles without feeling they must meet all the criteria.

Tower, who plans to retire next year, does the same thing, encouraging other women to replicate her methods and fight for equal compensation.

But companies aren’t off the hook either. Brouillette recommends leaders avoid trying to appear “superhuman” and instead make workers feel they can reach out with any issue. Even something as simple as calling executives by their first name rather than a formal title can create positive change, Brouillette said.

“You have more balanced executive teams and the power is more shared in our economy now than 20 years ago, but still, the CEO sets the tone in the business, so it will all reflect on how women grow in that business.”

Source: Door to the C-Suite still locked for many diverse candidates amid slow pace of change

Google CEO Apologizes, Vows To Restore Trust After Black Scientist’s Ouster

Doesn’t appear to be universally well received:

Google’s chief executive Sundar Pichai on Wednesday apologized in the aftermath of the dismissal of a prominent Black scientist whose ouster set off widespread condemnation from thousands of Google employees and outside researchers.

Timnit Gebru, who helped lead Google’s Ethical Artificial Intelligence team, said that she was fired last week after having a dispute over a research paper and sending a note to other Google employees criticizing the company for its treatment of people of color and women, particularly in hiring.

“I’ve heard the reaction to Dr. Gebru’s departure loud and clear: it seeded doubts and led some in our community to question their place at Google. I want to say how sorry I am for that, and I accept the responsibility of working to restore your trust,” Pichai wrote to Google employees on Wednesday, according to a copy of the email reviewed by NPR.

Since Gebru was pushed out, more than 2,000 Google employees have signed an open letter demanding answers, calling Gebru’s termination “research censorship” and a “retaliatory firing.”

In his letter, Pichai said the company is conducting a review of how Gebru’s dismissal was handled in order to determine whether there could have been a “more respectful process.”

Pichai went on to say that Google needs to accept responsible for a prominent Black female leader leaving Google on bad terms.

“This loss has had a ripple effect through some of our least represented communities, who saw themselves and some of their experiences reflected in Dr. Gebru’s. It was also keenly felt because Dr. Gebru is an expert in an important area of AI Ethics that we must continue to make progress on — progress that depends on our ability to ask ourselves challenging questions,” Pichai wrote.

Pichai said Google earlier this year committed to taking a look at all of the company’s systems for hiring and promoting employees to try to increase representation among Black workers and others underrepresented groups.

“The events of the last week are a painful but important reminder of the progress we still need to make,” Pichai wrote in his letter, which was earlier reported by Axios.

In a series of tweets, Gebru said she did not appreciate Pichai’s email to her former colleagues.

“Don’t paint me as an ‘angry Black woman’ for whom you need ‘de-escalation strategies’ for,” Gebru said.

“Finally it does not say ‘I’m sorry for what we did to her and it was wrong.’ What it DOES say is ‘it seeded doubts and led some in our community to question their place at Google.’ So I see this as ‘I’m sorry for how it played out but I’m not sorry for what we did to her yet,'” Gebru wrote.

One Google employee who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation said Pichai’s letter will do little to address the simmering strife among Googlers since Gebru’s firing.

The employee expressed frustration that Pichai did not directly apologize for Gebru’s termination and continued to suggest she was not fired by the company, which Gebru and many of her colleagues say is not true. The employees described Pichai’s letter as “meaningless PR.”

Source: Google CEO Apologizes, Vows To Restore Trust After Black Scientist’s Ouster

Police forces across Canada are still overwhelmingly white and male, new report shows

Long standing issue. Numbers in larger cities are of course better than those in smaller cities:

Canada’s police forces are far behind in being representative of the populations they serve, new data from Statistics Canada shows.

According to data on police resources in Canada for 2019 released Tuesday, police services across the country are overwhelmingly white and male. They still have low numbers when it comes to officers identifying as women, visible minorities and Indigenous.

The population of older police officers has also been climbing since data on age was first collected in 2012. Officers over the age of 50 made up 18 per cent of officers in 2019.

The amount of women police officers has been on the rise since 1986, when gender data was first collected and they accounted for just 4 per cent of officers.

Between 2018 and 2019, the amount of women rose by 325, making them a total of 22 per cent of all police officers. That is still behind considering women account for half of the total population.

Representation of Indigenous police officers across the country was approaching parity with the total population: four per cent of officers and three per cent of recruits self-identified as Indigenous. Five per cent of the country’s population is Indigenous.

Meanwhile, visible minorities are drastically under represented, accounting for just eight per cent of officers and 11 per cent of new recruits in 2019. Visible minorities are 22.3 per cent of the population according to the 2016 census.

Among the police services where the percentage of visible minority officers was higher, it was still about half as much as the region’s entire population of visible minorities.

The percentage of visible minority officers was 26 per cent in Vancouver, 26 per cent in Toronto and 19 per cent in York Region, while the 2016 census shows the overall population of visible minorities is 48 per cent, 51 per cent and 49 per cent, respectively.

In August, the Ontario Human Rights Commission declared that based on investigations into the Toronto Police Service, Black people were disproportionately likely to be arrested, charged, injured or killed by police, despite being only eight per cent of the city’s population.

The Commission called on the service, the police board and the city to formally establish a process with Black communities and the OHRC “to adopt legally binding remedies” to change the practices and culture of policing, and “eliminate systemic racism and anti-Black racial bias in policing.”

The new data from Statistics Canada did not specify how many Canadian officers identified as white, but subtracting Indigenous and visible minorities, the proportion of officers that remain is 88 per cent and 86 per cent of recruits.

The race of police officers can have an impact on the experience of members of the communities they police. For example in the U.S., researcher Mark Hoekstraexamined more than two million 911 calls in two U.S. cities and found that white officers dispatched to Black neighbourhoods fired their guns five times more oftenthan Black officers sent on similar calls in similar neighbourhoods.

Source: Police forces across Canada are still overwhelmingly white and male, new report shows

Diversity of Charity and Non-profit Boards: Statistics Canada Survey

This is a significant and needed survey that Senator Omidvar is championing with Statistics Canada, as she notes below:

I’ve been working closely with Statistics Canada and sector leaders on this important initiative and I am really excited that this will be the first-ever national snapshot of board diversity in the charitable sector. It’s crucial to collect and track this data in order for charities and non-profits to take an intentional approach towards increasing diversity on their boards so that they reflect the diversity of Canada.

Better data helps identify under-representation and opportunities to ensure that charities and non-profit organizations better reflect the communities they serve and I urge those of you on boards to take the time and submit the questionnaire.

A Message from Statistics Canada
The objective of this crowdsourcing initiative is to understand who serves on the boards of charity and non-profit organizations. In addition to collecting information about the diversity of board members, we explore topics such as what organizations do, who they serve, and where they are located. This information will help charities and non-profits better understand how their board compares to those of similar organizations.
Your participation is important: Your voice matters 
We want to hear from you, whether you sit on a board of directors or are involved in the governance of charities or non-profits. Please take a few minutes to complete the questionnaire and feel free to forward this email to your peers—the more people participate, the better the data.
 
Participating is easy and secure 
Click this link to participate:  https://www.statcan.gc.ca/diversity-questionnaire.
 
This data collection is conducted under the authority of the Statistics Act, which ensures that the information you provide will be kept confidential, and used only for statistical and research purposes.
 
For general enquiries and technical assistance 
Contact us Monday to Friday (except holidays), from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (Eastern Time):1-877-949-9492 (TTY: 1-800-363-7629*)infostats@canada.ca*If you use an operator-assisted relay service, you can call us during regular business hours. You do not need to authorize the operator to contact us.
 
For more information about the data collection visit:https://www.statcan.gc.ca/diversity

Diversity isn’t a zero-sum game

Useful look at the linkages between official languages and employment equity, indicating little conflict between two complementary goals. Given that TBS now provides breakdowns by individual groups, further analysis of OL and diversity by group would be helpful given the differences between groups (see my What new disaggregated data tells us about federal public service … and What the Public Service Employee Survey breakdowns of visible minority and other groups tell us about diversity and inclusion).

Little new, however, on the various suggestions to further improve diversity:

Fostering Canada’s rich diversity continues to be a national priority, as emphasized in the latest speech from the throne. Yet, critics often view diversity as a zero-sum game. One recent argument insisted that promoting French-language diversity and racial diversity represents “deeply contradictory goals with little introspection,” claiming that French-language requirements discriminate against racialized people. This trade-off mentality is dangerous because it pits groups against each other. In reality, French-language diversity and racial diversity can thrive in tandem, and the federal workforce is a living example of that.

French-language diversity is increasing

French-language diversity in Canada has always faced challenges but it first gained legal representation in 1969 through the Official Languages Act. Today, its preservation is reinforced by the Liberal Party modelling bilingualism in its speeches and investing a record $2.7 billion over five years starting in 2018–2019 to make bilingualism more accessible to Canadians. Additionally, non-partisan government policies, such as the Directive on Official Languages for People Management,have promoted bilingualism in the federal workplace.

Such political and administrative dynamics have helped bolster the number of government positions requiring bilingualism or French-only from 40.1 per cent in 2017 to 45.1 per cent in 2019, according to the latest data from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. Interestingly, this same data set reveals a story of diversity complementarity rather than contradiction.

Racial diversity is also increasing

Two common ways of measuring diversity are (1) overall representation and (2) access to executive positions. For visible minorities (the government’s term for racialized people), both metrics have increased. Between 2017 and 2019, the number of government-employed visible minorities skyrocketed by 21.2 per cent, expanding their representation in the federal workforce from 15.1 per cent to 16.7 per cent (figure 1). Notably, Black representation increased the most, growing from 2.8 per cent to 3.2 per cent, and it did so without cannibalizing the representation of other visible minority groups (South Asian/East Indian, people of mixed origin, Chinese, and others).

Clearly, representation has improved but what about access to executive positions wielding power over decisions and resources? It has also improved. Between 2017 and 2019, the number of visible minority executives increased by 20.8 per cent, elevating their share of total executive positions from 10.2 per cent to 11.1 per cent. Again, there wasn’t any cannibalization across visible minority groups. However, this gain has been outpaced by the growth in visible minorities’ overall representation. What this means more broadly is that the pipeline of diverse candidates to fill the nation’s top bureaucratic positions has expanded quickly. Yet, more efforts to train, promote and retain these staff are required to ensure that senior leadership is more racially representative.

Promoting diversity can be inclusive

This complementary diversity is even clearer when French-language and racial data are combined. Since 2017, the federal government has added roughly 8,900 positions that require bilingualism or French-only speakers. Visible minorities have filled a whopping 28 per cent of these positions (which is almost double the percentage of working-age visible minorities in Canada who can speak French). This, in large part, is a result of greater access to language training and new initiatives to achieve departmental racial diversity goals. Simply put, visible minorities are fully capable of promoting the French language if they’re equipped with the proper resources.

Interestingly, these encouraging trends haven’t threatened many other diversity groups. For example, women’s representation and the share of Indigenous executives have both increased over the same period. This may be due to workers having intersectional identities. However, the myriad of diversity personified by top cabinet ministers signals the priority to reflect Canada’s true diversity in the government. Equally, the bureaucracy’s increasing emphasis on diversity since 2016 – through new studies, task forces, departmental diversity and inclusion councils, executive leadership development programs, and the like – has expanded diversity across multiple fronts.

A path forward for French-language diversity

French-language diversity and racial diversity in the Canadian government are increasing but more must be done to reflect Canada’s true diversity. To increase French-language diversity, the government should prioritize improving the quality of language training. Currently, departments use third-party language-training suppliers, which often entails high costs, as noted by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. This decentralization across departments translates into a lack of standardization, inhibiting a high and consistent quality of education, and limited coordination, preventing departments from pooling resources and sharing best practices to teach French.

Instead, the government should offer more virtual group language lessons, workshops and resources through the Canada School of Public Service (the government’s central employee training hub). In-housing more teaching ensures greater quality control, broadens accessibility to more staff and saves on training costs in the long run. To help employees master French, the government should create short and immersive language-exchange programs – across departments and with international agencies – so that staff can work in a different official-language setting. These micro-assignments can include a language-mentoring component, which has also been suggested by the Privy Council Office. In turn, departments would benefit from these staff subsequently spurring more ideas, best practices and collaborations across departments and institutions.

A path forward for racial diversity

To increase racial representation, the government should invest in targeted recruiting programs. As the federal Joint Union/Management Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion suggests, recruiting racialized students has historically been challenging. Programs like the Indigenous Student Employment Opportunity and the Federal Internship Program for Canadians with Disabilitieselevate the importance of specific groups; a similar resource-backed program for racialized people would highlight them in recruitment. Another way to build the diversity pipeline is through sponsorship programs. In the United States, the Charles B. Rangel Graduate Fellowship Program(funded by the federal government) helps historically underrepresented U.S. minorities fund their graduate program, pairs them with mentors and places them in a full-time position at the U.S. State Department. This end-to-end program incubates talent from the start and fosters their long-term success with resources.

To boost racialized employees’ access to executive positions, the government should formalize a career mentorship program available across all departments. This government-wide approach would enable more standardization (while allowing for some departmental customization) and best-practice sharing. Additionally, departments should consider a reverse-mentorship program, whereby junior racialized staff act as mentors to senior non-racialized executives. Research and the United Kingdom Civil Service’s first-hand experiences reveal that such a program elevates a group’s visibility, unlocks more trust between groups and ultimately increases retention. These interactions also create a non-hierarchical feedback loop that enables executives to better understand lived realities and how the organizational culture interacts with those realities. Thus, they can more effectively address diversity and inclusion barriers.

Whether it’s targeted recruiting or mentorship programs, what’s crucial is that these initiatives be incremental to existing efforts and not cannibalize them. Additionally, accountability is integral to their success. For instance, this could mean factoring into executive evaluation and compensation how an organization performs based on its original diversity goals.

Diversity is just one piece of the journey

Canada’s commitments to cherish its French-language diversity and racial diversity deserve some praise. The federal workforce proves how these two can be complementary rather than a zero-sum trade-off. However, the Canadian government can’t rely on this positive trajectory because it’s far from being truly diverse and inclusive. That’s why it should standardize more official language teaching and bring it in-house, promote official language-exchange programs, invest in targeted recruiting for racialized people and institutionalize mentorship programs.

Beyond diversity, workplace inclusion equally needs attention. For example, the 2019 Public Service Employee Survey results show that visible minorities in the government are nearly twice as likely as non-visible minorities to report experiencing discrimination. This can negatively impact an individual’s sense of belonging, trust in a department, willingness to fully contribute at work and even retention.

Be it diversity challenges or inclusion challenges, resolving both is critical to reducing workplace inequities and socioeconomic disparities. Doing so is a necessary step to making diversity, inclusion and equity a reality in the Canadian government.

Source: Diversity isn’t a zero-sum game

Saskatchewan election: MLA diversity

Saskatchewan 2020 Election MLA Diversity

With the election results and new Cabinet appointments, the above chart shows the representation of women, visible minorities, and Indigenous peoples in relation to the overall population and the two parties.

Most striking to me is the significant under-representation of Indigenous peoples overall, with only the NDP having its elected MLAs largely reflecting the overall population (but not with respect to visible minorities.

Will update British Columbia once Cabinet appointed.

Vaughn Palmer: Failure to recruit female and minority candidates killed Liberal hopes in BC election

One element:

The B.C. Liberal party executive is calling on members and supporters to join “open and honest conversations” and “serious and exciting debates” about the party future.

But two recent statements from Liberals — one a defeated MLA, the other a former candidate — may be more honest and exciting than the current leadership can survive.

Taking direct aim at party leader Andrew Wilkinson was Jane Thornthwaite, beaten in her bid for a fourth term as Liberal MLA for North Vancouver-Seymour.

Source: Vaughn Palmer: Failure to recruit female and minority candidates killed Liberal hopes

Even as Trump Cut Immigration, Immigrants Transformed U.S.

Of note, the growth of immigration to non-traditional cities and states:

To grasp the impact of the latest great wave of immigration to the United States, consider the city of Grand Island, Neb.: More than 60 percent of public school students are nonwhite, and their families collectively speak 55 languages. During drop-off at Starr Elementary on a recent morning, parents bid their children goodbye in Spanish, Somali and Vietnamese.

“You wouldn’t expect to see so many languages spoken in a school district of 10,000,” said Tawana Grover, the school superintendent who arrived from Dallas four years ago. “When you hear Nebraska, you don’t think diversity. We’ve got the world right here in rural America.”

The students are the children of foreign-born workers who flocked to this town of 51,000 in the 1990s and 2000s to toil in the area’s meatpacking plants, where speaking English was less necessary than a willingness to do the grueling work.

They came to Nebraska from every corner of the globe: Mexicans, Guatemalans and Hondurans who floated across the Rio Grande on inner tubes, in search of a better life; refugees who fled famine in South Sudan and war in Iraq to find safe haven; Salvadorans and Cambodians who spent years scratching for work in California and heard that jobs in Nebraska were plentiful and the cost of living low.

The story of how millions of immigrants since the 1970s have put down lasting rootsacross the country is by now well-known. What is less understood about President Trump’s four-year-long push to shut the borders and put “America First” is that his quest may prove ultimately a futile one. Even with one of the most severe declines in immigration since the 1920s, the country is on an irreversible course to becoming ever more diverse, and more dependent on immigrants and their children.

The president since the moment he took office issued a torrent of orders that reduced refugee admissions; narrowed who is eligible for asylum; made it more difficult to qualify for permanent residency or citizenship; tightened scrutiny of applicants for high-skilled worker visas and sought to limit the length of stay for international students. His policies slashed the number of migrants arrested and then released into the country from nearly 500,000 in fiscal 2019 to 15,000 in fiscal 2020.

The measures worked: “We are going to end the decade with lower immigration than in any decade since the ’70s,” said William Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who analyzed newly available census data.

The president-elect, Joseph R. Biden Jr. has pledged to reverse many of the measures. He has vowed to reinstate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, an Obama-era program that allowed young adults mainly brought to the United States illegally as children to remain, and to resume accepting refugees and asylum seekers in larger numbers.

He has also said he would introduce legislation to offer a path to citizenship for people in the country illegally.

RCMP’s diversity hiring remains stagnant, new figures show

Ongoing challenge:

The head of the RCMP has promised to “double down” on efforts to boost diversity among its officers — but newly available statistics show those efforts haven’t borne fruit over the past decade.

The recently released diversity statistics come as the national police force grapples with a fierce debate over systemic racism in the ranks and claims that it policies racialized Canadians differently.

As of April 1, 2020, just under 12 per cent of the RCMP’s 20,000 rank-and-file members identify as visible minority, according to figures posted online late last week. That figure hasn’t changed dramatically over the past few years and remained lower than the general rate in the workforcenationwide.

Source: RCMP’s diversity hiring remains stagnant, new figures show

Scientific Journals Commit to Diversity, but Lack the Data

Of interest:

On June 16, three weeks after the killing of George Floyd set off a wave of protests that would blaze across the globe, Joël Babdor received an unexpected email.

It was an invitation for Dr. Babdor, an immunologist at the University of California, San Francisco, to write a blog post to share his “personal experience as a Black man in academia,” the email said. The sender was a marketing manager from Springer Nature, a company that publishes Nature and thousands of other scientific journals. Springer Nature most likely needed little introduction, the email noted to Dr. Babdor, “since you have published with us before.”

Dr. Babdor recalled being excited and flattered by the message. But then, he said, “I started to spiral.”

Three years prior, he had been a first author on a paper published in Nature Immunology, a highly respected journal. But even after nearly a decade in his field, Dr. Babdor could not name more than a few other Black immunologists. He couldn’t help but wonder how much of an anomaly he was.

“Are they contacting all their Black authors?” he mused of Springer Nature. “I was like, ‘How many of us are there?’”

Dr. Babdor posed the question to the company, but it had no answers; it kept no database of Black scientists who had published in Springer Nature journals.

Neither do many other prominent academic publishers in the life sciences.

When asked by The New York Times to provide data on the racial and ethnic diversity of researchers publishing on their platforms, several journals or journal families that deal in the biosciences — including Cell Press, eLife, JAMA Network, the Lancet, PLoS, PNAS, the New England Journal of Medicine and Springer Nature — said that they did not keep tabs on these metrics, or had no numbers to share. A few publishers said that they were early in the process of collecting this data, or had begun discussing the possibility, but could not yet disclose details.

The paucity of data rang a discordant tone, experts said, in the wake of editorials and commentaries published by these journals in recent months that pledged to combat racism in science and medicine.

“They were making those statements from even less of a grounded place than I thought,” said Ambika Kamath, a behavioral ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley. “What does it mean to say ‘I’m in favor of diversity’ when you haven’t even reckoned with what the state of diversity is in your own institution?”

Only two organizations, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Royal Society, provided data on its authors, as well as on their reviewers — the outside experts that vet manuscripts en route to publication, and who can make or break their success. But the data provided from these two pools of authors and reviewers, which was collected by voluntary surveys, accounted for only about 10 to 20 percent of the people who had recently contributed to the journals. And what little data was available revealed a familiar skew.

Two-thirds of the authors and reviewers who reported their race or ethnicity to A.A.A.S., which publishes the Science family of journals, listed themselves as white. People identifying as Black, Latino, Indigenous or Native together composed less than 10 percent of these groups. (Pacific Islanders were grouped together with Asians; this category accounted for roughly one-quarter of authors and reviewers.)

At the Royal Society, which is based in Britain and publishes annual diversity reports, about 75 to 80 percent of the authors and reviewers who responded to the institution identified as white. The remainder of the scientists were grouped together as “Black and minority ethnic.”

Sudip Parikh, the chief executive of A.A.A.S., cautioned against over-interpreting what little data existed. “The data is meaningless right now,” he said. Still, the association decided to publish what data it had, Dr. Parikh said, because “transparency can lead to accountability.”

Other experts noted that a more complete data set would have been unlikely to showcase much more racial and ethnic diversity. People who identify as white and Asian still make up the vast majority of Americans who earn doctorates each year, according to the National Science Foundation.

“This is not at all reflective of the demographics of broader society,” said Cassandra Extavour, a geneticist and evolutionary biologist at Harvard University. “But it is highly representative of the demographics of academia.”

A.A.A.S. also reported that nearly 90 percent of the people who had received awards and honors from the organization — a nomination-based process — identified as white.

“That was a punch in the gut,” said Bianca Jones Marlin, a neuroscientist at Columbia University. “It does not correlate with the amazing work in those that should be honored.”

Studies continue to reaffirm that diversity — on a multitude of axes — boosts performance and the quality of work across disciplines. Science is no exception. Only researchers as diverse as the people and phenomena they study, experts said, can accurately capture the dizzying amount of variation in the natural world and innovate beyond it. Scientists who hail from across spectra of gender, race, ethnicity, disability, sexuality and more are also uniquely equipped to collaborate with communities that have been ignored, silenced or even exploited and abused by the discriminatory practices of Western scientists.

“Better science is accomplished with more diverse perspectives,” said Martha Muñoz, an evolutionary biologist at Yale University. “How many discoveries are we missing out on?”

A.A.A.S., the Royal Society and PLoS also provided some figures on racial and ethnic diversity among their employees, including the editors who shepherd scientific papers through the publication process. Close to 90 percent of the members of the Royal Society’s editorial boards were white. Among editors employed in the United States by PLoS, 74 percent were white; none identified as Black. Roughly 80 percent of A.A.A.S. leadership, editors and advisers were white.

In an editorial published in June, the eLife editor in chief, Michael B. Eisen, wrote, “The entire leadership team of eLife is white.” Another editorial, released by the editors of the journal Cell just weeks later, said: “We are 13 scientists. Not one of us is Black.”

Publishing papers in top-tier journals is crucial scholastic currency. But the process is deeply insular, often hinging on personal connections between journal editors and the researchers from whom they solicit and receive manuscripts.

“Science is publicized as a meritocracy: a larger, data-driven enterprise in which the best work and the best people float to the top,” Dr. Extavour said. In truth, she added, universal, objective standards are lacking, and “the access that authors have to editors is variable.”

To democratize this process, editors and reviewers need to level the playing field, in part by reflecting the diversity that journals claim they seek, Dr. Kamath said. “People think this is a cosmetic or surface issue,” she said. “But in reality, the very nature of your scholarship would change if you took diversity, equity and inclusion seriously.”

In responses to The Times, several organizations, including A.A.A.S., Cell Pressthe Lancet and PLoS, pointed to ongoing efforts to track and boost equitable gender representation in science. Of the journals who kept tabs on these trends, many had hired women into leadership and editor positions. But where reported, authors and reviewers who identified as male still outnumbered their female colleagues — and not all organizations offered a nonbinary option. (Publishing rates among women have also fallen since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.)

Other journals largely skirted questions.

Jim Michalski, a senior public information officer at JAMA, did not provide data on the company’s employees, instead inviting The Times in an email “to visit our websites and assess the diversity of all aspects of the leadership of each JAMA Network journal, including Editors in Chief, Deputy Editors, Editorial Boards, etc.”

After evaluating some of the publishers’ written responses to The Times, Dr. Crystal Wiley Cené, a physician and health equity researcher at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, said, “I really questioned whether I would submit my work there again.”

The barriers raised to people of color in academia — often referred to as an ivory tower — arise early and often. “There is this false narrative that to achieve diversity, we have to compromise on excellence,” Dr. Muñoz said.

Keolu Fox, a human genome scientist at the University of California, San Diego, recalled being put down by a peer after receiving top marks on a prestigious fellowship during graduate school. “Another student saw my score, and he was like, ‘Oh man, I wish I could have borrowed your brownness for my application package,’” said Dr. Fox, who is Native Hawaiian. “That crushed me.”

Alison Mudditt, the chief executive of PLoS, said her organization was now prioritizing collecting more demographic data from its journals’ contributors. But she added that regulations around privacy, which can affect how such data is collected and stored and can differ between countries, would inevitably bog down the process.

Journals will also need to address low response rates among the contributors they survey, Dr. Marlin, of Columbia University, said. Poorly framed questionnaires could be interpreted as diminishing or even exploiting the people they are targeted to. “People need to hear, ‘We’re not going to use this against you,’” she said.

Some scientists are trying to encourage publishers to speed the process along. Dr. Babdor, for instance, is leading the charge behind #BlackInImmunology week, a celebration of Black immunologists that will take place at the end of November. In the lead-up to the event, the team will be approaching journals and publishers to request that they begin to collect and report more diversity data.

Keolu Fox, a human genome scientist at the University of California, San Diego, recalled being put down by a peer after receiving top marks on a prestigious fellowship during graduate school. “Another student saw my score, and he was like, ‘Oh man, I wish I could have borrowed your brownness for my application package,’” said Dr. Fox, who is Native Hawaiian. “That crushed me.”

Alison Mudditt, the chief executive of PLoS, said her organization was now prioritizing collecting more demographic data from its journals’ contributors. But she added that regulations around privacy, which can affect how such data is collected and stored and can differ between countries, would inevitably bog down the process.

Journals will also need to address low response rates among the contributors they survey, Dr. Marlin, of Columbia University, said. Poorly framed questionnaires could be interpreted as diminishing or even exploiting the people they are targeted to. “People need to hear, ‘We’re not going to use this against you,’” she said.

Some scientists are trying to encourage publishers to speed the process along. Dr. Babdor, for instance, is leading the charge behind #BlackInImmunology week, a celebration of Black immunologists that will take place at the end of November. In the lead-up to the event, the team will be approaching journals and publishers to request that they begin to collect and report more diversity data.

“We share similar goals,” Dr. Babdor said. “It’s time to start this conversation.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/30/science/diversity-science-journals.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage&section=Science