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Town Hall

Reinforcing IFT’s “Include” strategic promise, IFT hosted a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Virtual Town Hall earlier this week, marking the latest milestone in its journey to create a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable organization. The Virtual Town Hall provided an update on the progress of the IFT member-led Inclusive Systems Task Force, which was convened in April to assess IFT’s current structure, systems, and processes. The task force’s goal—identify opportunities for IFT to prioritize and foster inclusiveness in its operational systems so it can more effectively serve its members and the science of food community.

To provide context for their work, the task force engaged McKinley Advisors to conduct benchmarking research, focus groups, and qualitative interviews with current and prospective volunteer leaders. Among the key findings were:

  • Without transparency, it is challenging to make progress because there is nobody to hold the organization accountable.

  • Continuous data collection and analysis must be done routinely to identify changes, patterns, and/or improvements.

  • Changes to the governance structure and operational systems provide space for the advancement of D&I practices.

  • Certain member segments, including international members, new members, students, and new professionals, experience barriers to getting their foot in the door and fully engaging with IFT.

  • The process of identifying leadership and participation opportunities is inconsistent across member groups, making it challenging to identify pathways to involvement.

  • While D&I is accepted as a strategic priority, members expect it to become thoroughly embedded in the organization.

Based on the research findings, the task force identified 13 core practices that will provide direction and focus as we further incorporate D&I principles into the organization. In addition, five institutional systems were selected for deeper examination to identify opportunities for improvement. The following systems were chosen and recommendations for improvement were made because they represent a diverse spectrum of functions within the association and impact a variety of IFT members.

  • Division leadership election process

  • Awards criteria

  • Board candidate development, nominations, and elections processes

  • Annual Meeting Scientific Program Advisory Panel’s scientific session selection process

  • Volunteer leadership and application process

Over the next few weeks, the task force will be refining the recommendations in preparation for their presentation to the IFT Board of Directors in mid-November. It is critically important that these recommendations represent the voices of all IFT members, so your feedback and comments are welcome and encouraged.

If you joined us for the live event and want to share your thoughts, please send me a message at your earliest convenience. If you missed the virtual town hall, I strongly encourage you to watch the recording and submit your comments and questions.

– Nancy Ukpe Gargula, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, IFT

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