President’s Statement on NAE’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

From John L. Anderson, President, National Academy of Engineering

The NAE’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Civil unrest across the US over the past several weeks has further ripped open unhealed wounds, but I hope it will be a wake-up call for all who believe in equitable justice. Inaction would be inexcusable. For our African American colleagues, the recent killings of George Floyd and others at the hands of police and vigilante citizens are an appalling reminder of longstanding inequities in American life. Many more eyes should now be opened by these unjust deaths. Hopefully the widespread reaction marks a tipping point toward needed improvements for our country in equal justice, equal opportunity, and mutual respect.

Engineers are optimists, but we also understand the hard work it takes to tackle important challenges. We need to grasp this moment and help facilitate real change as citizens and professionals. We talk a great deal about increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in engineering education and practice; they are foundational to the strength of our profession and our ability to serve the nation. Acting on such ideals is paramount. We must ensure that it’s not just lip service, but meaningful engagement. Let us all remember that the NAE statement on diversity, equity, and inclusion is an actionable document. We commit to

  • embracing diversity—recognizing that talent is broadly distributed in society and that unique perspectives drive innovation, appreciating the broad dimensions of identity, and confronting historic barriers and contemporary hurdles that shape and distort participation and success in engineering education and the profession;
  • seeking equity—removing barriers, promoting access, and supporting positive working, convening, and social environments; and
  • driving inclusion—celebrating multiple approaches and points of view to develop optimal solutions, building capacity to strengthen the engineering profession, and building and encouraging relationships in the NAE’s working, convening, and social environments.

Neither the NAE nor any other organization can solve all the societal problems associated with racism, prejudice, and discrimination that tear apart our society. But the NAE will do its best to contribute to solutions, including within our organization. Current events underscore how critical it is for us to redouble our efforts to include the perspectives of everyone as we build the future world that we want, one in which we are all valued equally.

I look forward to our continued work together. Thank you, and stay safe and optimistic.