Diversity, Equity, and Action Commitment Statement
Adopted: September 2, 2022
As sociologists, our faculty and students investigate complex research questions about the causes, processes, and outcomes of social inequalities (e.g., across race, class, gender, age, sexuality, ability, national origin, etc) and across diverse institutional contexts (e.g. businesses, criminal justice institutions, schools, health care institutions, communities, workplaces, the state, etc). We analyze group-based differences in power and opportunity and the institutional foundations of inclusion, exclusion, and marginalization.
Grounded in this research, the Sociology Department embraces diversity, equity, and action as guiding principles in our work.
By diversity we mean “all of the characteristics that make individuals different from each other” including “primary characteristics such as age, race, gender, ethnicity, mental and physical abilities, and sexual orientation; and secondary characteristics, such as education, income, religion, work experience, language skills, geographic location, and family status.” (Harvard 2020) We embrace Wake Forest University’s Inclusive Excellence statement which holds that “diversity as a powerful community strength that must be consistently and actively practiced to achieve the highest teaching, learning, and scholarly outcomes.“
By equity we mean “The guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement… while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of marginalized groups.” As Harvard University notes, “The principle of equity acknowledges that there are historically underserved and underrepresented populations and that fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist equality in the provision of effective opportunities to all groups.” In other words, equity is distinct from equality. Sometimes equal treatment is inequitable.
By action we mean the active, intentional exercise of these principles. We believe it is not enough to recruit a diverse group of students and scholars. True commitments to diversity and equity require consistent work to dismantle systemic barriers both inside our and outside the academy.
To this end, the Sociology Department’s diversity, equity, and action work includes:
- Incorporating issues of inequality, power, oppression, and resistance in curriculum, teaching, and other practices;
- Engaging in open dialogue on diversity issues;
- Addressing historical inequalities in higher education in general and at Wake Forest in particular;
- Enhancing awareness of diversity and equity issues through ongoing research and applied work;
- Working to eliminate the use of racially-biased standardized tests in higher education;
- Intentionally recruiting, actively supporting, and retaining faculty, students, and staff that represent the diversity of our community and discipline;
- Developing and strengthening collaborative relationships with a diverse range of on-campus and off-campus partners;
- Building a department culture in which each member of our community strives to be cognizant of their own privileges, limitations, and implicit biases;
- Developing procedures within the department that allow students, staff, and faculty to feel safe in contesting practices that act contrary to our diversity, equity, and action principles and cultivating reflection and dialogue when such concerns are raised;
- Taking public positions on issues for which there is consensus in the sociological literature or related to matters concerning the well-being of the discipline and profession;
- Regularly evaluating the success or failure of these achievements
The department’s Diversity, Equity, and Action Committee (DEAC) is charged each year with staying up to date on best practices in diversity, equity, and inclusion work, making recommendations to the department, and ensuring that the Sociology Department consistently engages in this important work.