On September 7-8, 2016, 16 Laboratory Directors convened for the second annual National Laboratory Directors Council (NLDC) Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Summit at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL). Concurrent with the summit, BNL also hosted a two-day D&I Workshop both for their staff and summit attendees. Berkeley Lab Director Mike Witherell was in attendance, along with D&I Manager Christel Cantlin and Senior D&I Analyst Lady Idos.
The workshop’s theme was, “Energy Solutions Will Require Everyone: Inclusion Increases Innovation.” Speakers included Lab Directors, BNL staff members, and experts who spoke on topics related to D&I strategies. Dr. Pat Dehmer, Deputy Director for Science Programs in the Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), also addressed the group and shared her perspectives on D&I.
The plenary session included Lab Directors who presented on D&I efforts at their respective locations: Chi-Chang Kao from SLAC National Accelerator Lab (implicit bias); Martin Keller from National Renewable Energy Lab (leadership team diversity); Jill Hruby from Sandia National Labs (video and social media); and Peter Littlewood from Argonne National Lab (customized climate survey).
External guest speakers included Dr. Caroline Simard from Stanford’s Clayman Institute on Gender Research, and Dr. Steve Robbins from S.L. Robbins & Associates. Simard discussed the application of the implicit bias interrupter tools, along with best practices and results. She cited several studies, asserting that: 1) diverse teams outperform smart individuals when problems are hard to solve; and 2) unlocking the innovation potential of diverse teams is a key leadership ability. Robbins’ talk, “Your Brain is Good at Inclusion, Except When It’s Not,” described how D&I workplace efforts can positively impact creativity and innovation, employee engagement and enthusiasm, and continuous learning and improvement. He also used concepts from neuroscience to describe human behavior and insider/outsider culture.
In addition to the Lab Directors, the summit also brought together Chief Human Resources Officers and D&I Managers from across the DOE laboratory complex. The group shared progress toward D&I best practices identified at last year’s summit hosted at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Next year’s summit will take place at Ames National Laboratory.