Accountability is an important part of the Lab’s focus on inclusion, diversity, and equity. Improving our diverse representation and integrating our IDEA culture to make the Lab even more welcoming is going to take time and commitment. Accountability — the actions we feel responsible for taking — formalizes that commitment. Everyone can participate in creating and promoting an accountable work environment at Berkeley Lab.
We asked Daniel Gens, NERSC Site Reliability Engineer responsible for ensuring 24/7 availability and reliability of the NERSC computational systems, and co-chair of the Lambda Alliance Employee Resource Group, for his thoughts on accountability at the Lab.
Elements: How do you define accountability?
Daniel Gens: Accountability is one of the puzzle pieces that has been missing in the Lab’s DEI efforts. I’m glad they added the “A”. It separates words from actions. It has been frustrating over the years because we form committees, we talk, but the lack of accountability can lead to minimal outcomes. Accountability adds the action item to inclusion, diversity, and equity. Without action items, nothing happens. By adding accountability, it allows for meaningful culture change.
Elements: How do you think we can take individual responsibility for accountability for living out IDEA at the Lab?
Daniel: At some point, everyone is in the margins, even if it is only as the new kid in school. Remember that feeling, and think of those who feel that way all the time. Speak up for those who aren’t at the table when decisions are made. If you have power, bring up these difficult questions. Use your influence. If you set up panels at conferences, ask if there is diversity among panel members. Make meetings inclusive.
Elements: What is your personal commitment to making IDEA part of the culture at the Lab?
Daniel: I try to raise visibility for transgender and gender non-conforming people, or TGNC, within the Lab, and in the larger scientific community. At the Scientific Computing Conference, I led a session on the inclusion of TGNC folks that was well-received. Outreach is a good way of making accountability real. I work with student interns and speak at brown bag lunch discussions to let them know that they are welcome at the Lab.