Diversity and Inclusion Event: Culture and Leadership - The Role of Men Written 15 December 2016

MIT Professor Edmund Bertschinger addresses attendees.

The AIAA New England Section organized a meeting at MIT Lincoln Laboratory to coincide with the rollout of AIAA’s Diversity and Inclusion Plan, which includes recommendations and implementation steps. The group’s recommendations include adding diversity and inclusion sessions to national and regional events and conferences. This event was offered as a prototypical way for Sections to participate in the effort.

The meeting incorporated a presentation about the difficulties encountered and overcome in establishing diversity and inclusion, the distribution of a well-known reference detailing the situations in which diversity and inclusion works best, and small-group discussions of common barriers. The results of these discussions are being expanded and refined possibly to be distributed more broadly.

The keynote presentation, Culture and Leadership: The Role of Men, by Professor Edmund Bertschinger, former head of the MIT Department of Physics and the current Institute Community and Equity Officer, described ways to achieve diversity and inclusion in groups generally and at MIT specifically. He noted that culture is the dark energy of our lives: it is an invisible force that shapes our environment for work and life. Culture shapes climate, and climate affects individual and group satisfaction and accomplishment. Organizational culture is shaped by organizational leaders, who are usually men, and often white men. Inclusive leadership advances a respectful and caring community to leverage the power of diversity, improve employee success, and enhance the quality of life for everyone.

The program, sponsored by the DWG, the AIAA New England Section, and MIT Lincoln Laboratory, was very well received. We encourage other sections to consider including topics that support the Diversity Working Group’s plan.

For a copy of the plan, visit www.aiaa.org/Diversity.