NISO Board Emphasizes Work on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Invigorated Commitment to DEI

The Board of Directors of the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) has taken steps to more clearly emphasize and support increased diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the work of the organization and its community.

Community grounded efforts tend to lead to better outcomes when they are developed through a combination of voices, perspectives and experiences. When we ensure consensus is achieved through respectful attention to a diverse blending of views, the community enables opportunity and participation by all. While this is true of any communal effort, the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are particularly critical to the NISO organization’s efforts in the information community because standards work is most successful when there is equitable representation and engagement in development

In mid-June of 2020, NISO Executive Director Todd Carpenter had noted publicly that “Expanding diversity and inclusion within NISO is a key priority and our Board reiterates the need to advance this core value within our community.” Speaking in 2021, Carpenter added, "Standards work is always improved by including the widest possible range of voices." 

In pursuit of such advancement, the NISO Board of Directors has created a subcommittee with the charge of “championing NISO’s DEI Policy to help achieve the organization’s goal of social justice in all its activities, including establishing priorities, identifying assessment criteria, and regularly monitoring and reporting on progress". Drawing together representatives from NISO member organizations as well as non-members, the subcommittee consists of fourteen individuals from academic institutions, non-profits, scholarly societies, service providers, and libraries. The committee’s efforts will enhance NISO’s existing efforts to include those who are underrepresented or marginalized, to include them in decision-making, learn from their perspectives, amplify their voices, and ensure that they have opportunities for growth. 

“This is making real something that NISO was already sensitive to and working towards,” notes Board member, Maria Stanton of Atla (American Theological Library Association). Stanton has led organizational efforts by the Board in establishing the subcommittee and will continue to serve as Chair.  

One of the Committee’s first tasks is to plan and implement the workshop on DEI and standards — an output of the recent NISO Plus 2021 conference. Several sessions at the conference focused specifically on DEI issues, and the topic was also raised in numerous other sessions, especially with regard to the need for improvements to metadata standards (for example, to meet indigenous knowledge requirements, make author diversity more discoverable, and address issues around bias in AI). The workshop will be held in at least two major time zones, to ensure global participation, and the findings will be shared publicly for community feedback.

Among other commitments, the subcommittee will support NISO in:

  • Continuing to create a welcoming community, one that is open to challenging assumptions about diversity, equity, and inclusion, to ensure that all individuals / groups can fully participate.

  • Providing training and educational resources specifically targeted to communities that have historically been underrepresented both within NISO’s programming and the information community more broadly. 

  • Supporting NISO members in achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion within their organizations by developing recommended practices and standards that reflect NISO’s own commitment to DEI.

For additional details about the committee, its charter and members, visit this page