Anti-Racist Toolkit #diversity #inclusion

Ryan D Mandell

Hi everyone,

Annie, thank you for getting this started.  

Unfortunately, my answer is nearly identical to yours.  I also post job offerings widely and state something like, "We are looking for individuals interested and excited about makerspace technology who are detail-oriented, willing to follow direction, and customer service oriented.  You will receive on the job training and no previous experience is necessary."  This has opened up the pool of applicants significantly.  Covid has limited my number of employees, but of the six I currently have, only one identifies as male.  My graduate assistant is a Kyrgyz woman studying eastern european languages with no previous experience with relevant technologies.  After going through my standard training and given the opportunity to experiment and "play" in the environment for a few weeks, she is already easily one of the best technicians I've employed.

When I realized that my hiring practices needed to change in order to emphasize BIPOC and women I initially thought (assumed) that I was creating more work for myself (less experience = more training) and the quality of my staff's performance would likely suffer (less experience = lower performance).  However, in practice, I've found the exact opposite.  Because I deliver the same baseline training to all new employees, it actually doesn't matter what level of previous experience any given employee might have.  In fact, those that already "know" something about the technology are more likely to tune me out during training and therefore miss key information. Also, because the individuals I am now hiring are excited and interested rather than experienced, they feel empowered and tend to be more engaged in their position as a result.  The feedback from my customers about my staff has been overwhelmingly positive.

Ryan Mandell
Director, Fabrication Labs
School of Art, Architecture + Design
Indiana University

Annie Henly

As promised here is the question posed by Ryan, slightly reworded by me: 

What anti-racist ideas and policies have others in the group put in place (by leveraging your privileges) to make a more equitable shop? 

This can act as a toolkit, I believe it is the most important toolkit we can be creating at this time. I am looking forward to learning from y'all!
One of ours: In order to offer the opportunity to a wider audience we have started posting the student technician jobs on the university-wide jobs board as well as put signs on our doors. The messaging of the posts includes that we will train you, so we don't lose potential great candidates because they don't have experience yet. This creates more access. I get to leverage the power I have as an employee with a recurring position to advocate for better hiring processes. With the wider pool of applicants, we can prioritize hiring people of different backgrounds so that the demographic of the student body is more reflected in the shop staff. It is not a perfect system, but is a drop in the bucket of how we can combat systemic racism. The sign on the doors usually reads something like this:

"Hey, YOU! Do you like to learn about tools? Do you like working with people? Apply to work in the Fab Shop! We will train you!" and then have the application website.