The MIT Press (MITP) has an open work culture of diverse and spirited individuality and a proud legacy of bold, socially engaged publishing that champions the sharing of information and ideas from divergent perspectives. Our investment in equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in the workplace and in what we publish has deep roots, encompassing our long-time participation in the Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowship, our support for the work of underrepresented authors through our Diverse Voices Fund, and decades of publishing powerful works on social justice, race, equity, and activism across the STEAM spectrum, among many other activities.
Over the last few years, our EDI focus has become more intentional, in large part through staff-driven initiatives, culminating in the commitment as one component of our FY22-24 strategic plan to: “Be a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization in how we hire and promote, how we work, and what and who we publish.”
In 2021, we hired EDI consultant Tara Robertson to help MITP’s senior team develop a roadmap in support of this objective, with the goal of providing actionable recommendations in three areas:
- People: Who works at MITP, and do all staff feel included and that they belong? How can we grow the diversity of our staff, and their experience of inclusion and belonging at work, going forward?
- Publishing: Who and what is being published currently? Given the ﬁelds in which MITP publishes, and what possibilities exist for further diversifying the authorship and topics of our publications?
- Ecosystem: What is currently happening at the industry level with regard to EDI? What leadership role could the Press play, building in part on our leadership on equity, in access to published knowledge?
Following four months of research, including an all-staff survey, access to demographic data provided by MIT’s Oﬃce of Institutional Research, and numerous individual meetings and focus groups, Robertson provided several recommendations, with a primary focus on people, employee life-cycle, and evolving work culture in the context of the pandemic and MITP’s new hybrid oﬃce structure. Robertson’s report helped MITP’s leadership team ﬁnalize its EDI action plan, supplementing and significantly enhancing ongoing EDI initiatives and commitments at the Press.
We have decided to share our EDI commitments and action roadmap publicly, with the aim of assisting interested peers in the university press community (while acknowledging that there are significant operational and structural differences among presses). At the same time, public auditing of our three-year implementation plan will help hold us accountable to these commitments.