C4DISC Celebrates Pride Month 2021: Spotlight Interviews

Divya Nair (Cactus Communications) & Mia Ricci (Wiley), C4DISC Communications and Outreach Committee

June witnesses a month-long global celebration of Pride every year. Pride month is a time to recall the trials the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community has endured and to rejoice in the triumphs of trailblazing individuals who have bravely fought — and continue to fight — for full equality.  Pride is both a jubilant communal celebration of visibility and a personal celebration of self-worth and dignity. 

Pride month is also an opportunity to reinforce the importance of inclusion and diversity both in and out of the workplace. In honor of the Pride month, C4DISC spoke to two members from the scholarly communications space, who champion and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community: Avram Anderson from Macalester College and Kristen Moledo from Wiley.

With thanks to: our interviewees Avram and Kristen, and C4DISC C&O Committee members Megan Seyler and Ana Maria Jimenez-Moreno.

The Interviews

Avram Anderson Electronic Resources Librarian at Macalester College, Member of NISO DEIA Committee

1. Can you talk about how and why you got involved in your advocacy efforts at Macalester and NISO, and the larger scholarly communications industry?

Over the past four years, I have been studying the factors that result in systematic discrimination against and censorship of LGBTQ information across a variety of online platforms such as Google, YouTube, and Facebook to contribute to the scholarly understanding of the intended and unintended consequences of algorithms and automated decision-making processes, and to inform policy in the development and regulation of these technologies to forestall harmful impacts to users. I’ve also been working closely with other information professionals to understand how systemic bias might be introduced into library information systems.

As a member and advocate of the LGBTQI+ community researching LGBTQ censorship, in print and online, some of my recent publications include “Queer Erasure” in the Spring 2020 issue of Index on Censorship, “Stonewalled: Establishment Media’s Silence on the Trump Administration’s Crusade against LGBTQ People,” featured in Censored 2020, “The Corporate Media Failed to Warn Us About the Trump Admin’s Attack on LGBTQ Workers”, at In These Times, and “Corporate Media Biases Threaten the Passage of Landmark LGBTQ Protections”, in Truthout.

Additionally, my colleagues and I at Macalester College were developing a plan to conduct a diversity, equity and inclusion audit of our collections at the DeWitt Wallace Library. We partnered with a faculty member teaching a course on data storytelling and their students analyzed a small subset of the library collection to provide insight about diversity issues. This sparked a conversation surrounding metadata and information standards and the possibility of disrupting the issue at the point of ingest into library systems.

I wanted to work with the NISO DEIA Committee to share the insights that I’ve gleaned from my research and offer my perspective on DEIA related issues as a member of the LGBTQ community.

2. What are some of the aims or goals of the NISO DEIA Committee?

The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility committee will serve as a resource to the NISO community, including the NISO Board, the staff, Topic Committees, Working Groups, and other

committees, providing guidance on issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and will advocate for under- represented groups in our community.

The newly-formed DEI Committee will play a central role in improving DEIA, including running a virtual workshop, which will focus on identifying and prioritizing concrete actions that NISO can take to support and increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the information community.

3. Do you have suggestions on what organizations can do to better supports LGBTQ+ employees? 

Creating and fostering a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility is vital to reduce barriers for members of the LGBTQ community. If the organization isn’t creating an inclusive and equitable space, there is the possibility that employees will leave or they will be quite unhappy. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index is a national benchmarking tool that measures policies, practices and benefits for LGBTQ employees and could be utilized as a place to start learning about how to adopt practices that ensure equality in the workplace.

Organizations should foster a culture of inclusion by taking steps such as:

  • Creating a gender-neutral environment by using gender neutral language, including preferred pronouns in communication, create gender neutral bathrooms, and supporting gender transition in the workplace
  • Don’t force people to select one gender or race on forms
  • Establish LGBTQ employee affinity groups
  • Adding sexual orientation and gender identity to non-discrimination policies – the Supreme Court ruled (Bostock v. Clayton County, June 2020) that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is the equivalent of sex discrimination and is therefore illegal under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Support the local LGBTQ community and invest in local LGBTQ owned and operated businesses
  • Offer LGBTQ-friendly benefits
  • Implement organization-wide diversity training
  • Provide specific training for managers and leaders
  • Listen to and validate LGBTQ experiences and engage in courageous conversations

4. Can you recommend organizations to support to those who might be interested in getting involved in helping advocate for the LGBTQ+ community?

Fueled by the spate of anti-trans bills and the pandemic, 2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year for trans and gender non-conforming Americans particularity impacting Black and Latinx transgender women. Advocating for the community is critical at this juncture. There are many organizations that serve the LGBTQ community in different ways. It’s important to acknowledge the LGBTQ community from various angles to diversify your perspective and increase your awareness if you’re looking to contribute or get involved with advocacy work.

  • The Trevor Project – provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people.
  • The Trans Women of Color Collective – provides affirming spaces for trans and gender non-conforming people of color such as Safe Houses in D.C., Missouri, and Jamaica. The Safe House offer services like meals, counseling and mentoring. The TWOCC also cultivates economic opportunities through wellness initiatives and community funds that are in turn distributed to trans women of color around the world.
  • GLSEN – Their mission is to ensure that every member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
  • Human Rights Campaign – the largest LGBTQ advocacy group and LGBTQ political lobbying organization in the United States. The HRC seeks to fundamentally change the way LGBTQ people are treated in their everyday lives through shedding light on injustice, transforming institutions and communities and forming strategic partnerships to advance meaningful change.

Kristen Moledo Director of Content Marketing and Social Media at Wiley

Regional Chair for Pride @ Wiley

Member of C4DISC Communications & Outreach Committee

1. How did you get involved in the scholarly communications industry?

I started my career in the higher education space then moved to our Research division. Now I get to work across our businesses at Wiley. I love that everything we do is centered around learning. It’s the key to evolving as people, as a society – and I think that’s a very special and important mission.

2.  Can you talk about how and why you got involved with Pride @ Wiley and C4DISC?

When a few people came together to form Pride @ Wiley, it was an easy decision to get involved. I’ve always been out in my professional life and felt comfortable and supported at work but that’s not a given for everyone. I wanted to contribute to creating an environment where other LGBTQ+ people knew that they had a community here. We wanted to create a known safe place for people to be exactly who they are. An ERG cannot do that alone, but it can contribute to creating a certain workplace culture. The other element that was important to me was being at the table for decisions that impact people but where specific considerations of the LGBTQ+ community can be forgotten – healthcare and benefits, parental leave, pronoun usage, and more.

To ever so subtly plug C4DISC ☺️, I wanted to get involved in this group because I truly think our industry has a collective responsibility to do better. One organization alone could never accomplish what 25 member and partner organizations can do together. There comes a time when collaboration is much more important than competition.

3. What are some of the goals of Pride @ WIley? We’d love to hear about some of the initiatives or activities that have been taken by the group!

I probably answered some of this in the previous question, oops! But basically, our goal is to build a supportive community for our LGBTQ+ teammates, work across the company to ensure activities are done through an inclusive lens, and to have information for allies so they can treat allyship as a verb. This Pride month we are highlighting Black queer musicians in collaboration with our Black Employee Resource Group (BERG). We’ve put together an LGBTQ+ movie bracket tournament which was inspired by the best food tournament our Asian & Pacific Islander (API) ERG did for AAPI heritage month. We are also partnering with PFLAG’s Straight for Equality program, which everyone at Wiley was able to join. And our editorial team has curated LGBTQ+ specific research articles on our RISE site, which is all about social awareness through evidence-based research. So, it’s a bit of education mixed in with some lighter activities that just get people understanding more about the queer community. We believe that through education and personal storytelling, we can help create a more inclusive climate. Pre-covid we would through one heck of a Pride party, too!  

4. Do you have suggestions on what organizations can do to better supports LGBTQ+ employees? 

I really believe that a key first step is active listening and knowing that there is work to be done to get to a better place. Then it’s about having open conversations about solutions if there are existing problems. There should be expectations across the board on what values you have as a company, and the expectations of leadership and employees. One of our Wiley values is to be a “courageous teammate.” This can be expressed in numerous ways – calling out microaggressions, respectfully debating issues – and we are measured on these values. Just like for anyone, HR policies and benefits are extremely important, too. For as long as they’ve existed, policies and benefits have been created through a heteronormative lens. This is certainly changing but it’s nowhere near where it should be for the LGBTQ+ community. So, largely I think companies need to put investment behind the support they vocalize but that might often end there.

5. What are some specific LGBTQ+ friendly benefits or healthcare options that an organization can curate and provide to its employees?

Companies should look at healthcare and benefits such as: fertility coverage that doesn’t require proof of medically diagnosed “infertility”; healthcare rights for trans people like coverage related to medical transitions including many that are considered elective by other plans; helping with adoption costs; and making sure you have a good non-birthing parent parental leave policy. At least in the US, our government classifies maternity leave under “disability.” That basically translate to not having any parental leave unless you’ve given birth. Children are brought into a family in many ways and those parents and children deserve paid leave during that time. If you have employees located in countries that do not provide this level of support, be the company that does it for them.

6. Can you recommend organizations to support to those who might be interested in getting involved in helping advocate for the LGBTQ+ community?

There are so many great organizations out there that a quick search could bring up based on your location and issue you are most interested in helping to solve. But I think there is such power in advocating through conversations. Don’t be afraid to call out a homophobic comment at a family party. Talk to your kids about the beauty of people’s differences. Unlearn harmful language we’ve become desensitized to. Buy your products from an LGBTQ+ owned company. Advocacy and allyship can come in so many different forms and you should find the one that feels most natural for you.

Personally, some of my favorites are the ones focused on LGBTQ+ youth, who are at such a high risk for homelessness, depression and suicide: