The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is a non-profit association comprised of 12,000+ science and food professionals from 95 countries, representing multiple disciplines, innumerable viewpoints, and a shared commitment to science. IFT’s Achievement Awards and Fellows designation are intended to recognize and celebrate our diverse group of individuals and teams making significant contributions to research, applications, and service across all areas of the science of food professions. Following the evaluation of our current selection process, the IFT Board of Directors concluded there is a need to revise our processes and criteria related to awardees and Fellows to ensure equitable representation of all perspectives, backgrounds, and science of food professions.
IFT is engaging a task force of members to review and revise these process and will roll out updated nomination and selection processes for 2023. To allow for the time and discussion needed to thoughtfully evolve these processes, IFT will not name a 2022 class of IFT Fellows or recipients of the Food Ingredient Safety Award in Honor of Bernard L. Oser, Public Health Award in Honor of Babcock-Hart & Gilbert A. Leveille, and the Distinguished Service Award in Honor of Calvert L. Willey in 2022.
Why was this decision made?
The IFT Board of Directors voted to review processes and criteria related to the nomination and selection of our Achievement Award recipients and IFT Fellows to ensure equitable representation of all perspectives, backgrounds, and science of food professions. The decision was taken very seriously by the Board and was made after a thorough review of the size of the application pool and aggregate demographic data indicated a need to pause, reflect, and make changes.
How does IFT define equity?
IFT defines equity as the guaranteed fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all.
Who made the decision?
This decision was voted on by the IFT Board of Directors.
Did IFT staff play a role in this decision?
No, this decision was made by the IFT Board of Directors.
Why did the Board decide to make this decision this year? What is different from previous years?
IFT defines diversity as the composition of a group of people from any number of demographic backgrounds and identities. This includes, but is not limited to, gender, socioeconomic background, area of study, and profession. During this year's selection process, a review of the size of the application pool and aggregate demographic data indicated multiple facets of that definition were not met.
To adequately represent the full diversity and collective strength of IFT's community, we feel it’s important to encourage and foster inclusive opportunities for individuals and teams spanning a range of backgrounds and fields of work, including academia, industry, and government.
Can the board of directors legally make this ruling?
As noted in Rule 4 of the IFT Awards Program Policy, the Board of Directors has the authority to approve or disapprove all policies, including new awards, rule changes, and regulation changes of award juries.
Are you handing out any awards this year?
We will be awarding 11 individual awards and one team award in 2022.
Why weren't other awards excluded?
The Food Ingredient Safety Award in Honor of Bernard L. Oser, the Public Health Award in Honor of Babcock-Hart & Gilbert A. Leveille, and the Distinguished Service Award in Honor of Calvert L. Willey all received two or fewer nominees in 2022, indicating a lack of equitable representation of all perspectives, backgrounds, and science of food professions.
What is IFT doing to improve the nomination and selection process for the future?
IFT is convening a task force of members to review the current criteria and processes.
When will the updated nomination and selection processes and criteria be announced?
We expect to roll out updated processes and criteria for the 2023 awards cycle.
Wouldn't the response to not name a Fellows class based on a lack of diversity also be considered discrimination?
Inclusion is one of IFT's core values, and as part of this, we promise to listen, learn, and invite input from people of all backgrounds as we create new processes and make changes. Our decisions and actions are informed by intentionally challenging assumptions, beliefs, and practices that maintain inequity in society and science. This year's applicants will be welcome and encouraged to apply in 2023.
Were nominees penalized for things outside of their control (i.e. race, gender)?
No. During this year's selection process, a review of the size of the application pool and aggregate demographic indicated too few applicants for several awards and a lack of equitable representation of all perspectives, backgrounds, and science of food professions. To broaden engagement, simplify the process, and better reflect the breadth, diversity, and talent of our entire membership community, IFT is engaging a task force of members to revise these processes for the future. We'll encourage this year's nominees to seek nomination again in 2023.
Had the pool of applicants been more diverse, would the awards have still been given out, despite a limited number of nominees?
No. The limited application pool of several awards indicated a need to evolve our nomination and selection processes to broaden engagement and better reflect the breadth, diversity, and talent of our entire membership community. As part of the member task force's work, they will explore establishing a threshold for minimum applicants during future award cycles.
Does IFT have any specific DEI goals or metrics?
An overview of the demographic characteristics of IFT’s membership can be found here. This information is used to create data-informed diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies, address barriers that specific groups of people are experiencing, track our progress, and transparently report the impact of our value of Inclusion.
Were nominees told they had been named a Fellow or a winner of one of the impacted Achievement Awards and then later notified of the Board’s decision?
No. Nominees and nominators of the impacted awards and designation were notified of the Board’s decision prior to any announcement of outcome.