Incorporating DEIA and Archival Compensation Recommendations in SAA

This article originally appeared as the President’s Message in the May/June 2021 issue of Archival Outlook.

At its March virtual meeting, much of the SAA Council’s agenda was related to the Society’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access (DEIA). Addressing diversity issues and moving intentionally to a culture of inclu­sion has been a part of SAA’s Strategic Plan for many years, and in recent years we have moved this work to our highest priority.

Now embedded in SAA’s Strategic Plan “dashboard” (a detailed view of specific activities to address our goals) is a charge to the Council’s Internal Working Group on Diversity and Inclusion to draft a work plan for incorporating DEIA and cultural competency into all aspects of SAA’s work, taking into account SAA’s Strategic Plan 2020–2022 and informed by existing goals and strategies developed by component groups. The action-oriented plan will be comprehensive in considering the breadth of SAA’s programs, including membership, staffing, and governance and leadership structures. Due on May 31, the plan will outline a multiyear approach to expanding SAA’s resources with the use of external experts and facilitators; meeting the education and training needs of SAA leaders, members, and staff; and developing internal resources for future leaders. I am grateful to Council member Meg Tuomala for her willingness to chair this group and see its daunting task to completion so that we have a road map for the next several years.

Also during the Council’s March meeting, the Diversity Committee presented a fantastic report that compiled feedback and significant recommendations following last summer’s well-attended Black Lives and Archives forums. The report includes recommendations in four areas that have an impact on the people who work in our profession and the practice of archives:

  • recruitment and retention,
  • structural barriers within SAA,
  • DEI training and education for archives workers, and
  • archival practice.

I encourage you to read the full report and recommendations. This report arrived at just the right time to inform and influence the Council’s work plan.

The Diversity Committee’s recommenda­tions align with the work of SAA’s Archival Compensation Task Force, which seeks to require salary reporting in postings on the SAA job board and to propose recom­mendations regarding contingent labor. The complexity of issues surrounding fair compensation and the ongoing impact of the ever-increasing number of contingent labor positions remains a concern for the SAA Council, many SAA members, and me.

Determining how best to address the issues of salary transparency and equity is a challenging proposition in our profession. Many of us currently work or have worked for organizations that simply refuse to share salary information publicly. Some of our colleagues have had success in advocating with their employers to reverse that policy. Will requiring salary information on all job board postings hasten that organizational change or will it disenfranchise a segment of our profession from recruiting among our members? We don’t have the answer to that question yet, but please know that the Council has been engaging in a robust discussion and we welcome members’ input. As always, you can reach me at president@archivists.org.

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