Building a Diverse, Inclusive Future for ACM SIGGRAPH

by | 7 May 2019 | ACM SIGGRAPH

photo of the Vancouver Diversity and Inclusion Summit by John Fujii © 2018 ACM SIGGRAPH 

In preparation for the second annual Diversity and Inclusion Summit, hosted by the ACM SIGGRAPH Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Committee, we interviewed its organizers to learn more about their goals, challenges, and vision. The day-long workshop will educate and inform the ACM SIGGRAPH community about Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and Leadership (I.D.E.A.L.S.), and will take place on Sunday, 28 July, from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm Pacific Time during SIGGRAPH 2019.

SIGGRAPH: What challenges have you faced in the implementation of the D&I conference program and committee?

Tony Baylis (TB): Our challenges are in narrowing down potential content for our community. There is a strong interest in discussing various concerns within the community, and we had a hard time in choosing which topics to focus on this year.

Aruquia Peixoto (AP): Another main challenge of the committee in general was, and still is, to make the SIGGRAPH community understand that D&I is about us, not about the “others” or about “differents.” Our community is very diverse, and the most basic example of that is our two conferences: SIGGRAPH North America and SIGGRAPH Asia.

SIGGRAPH: What traits or contributions are most valued by the D&I committee?

TB: The traits of most value to our committee are: inclusivity, diversity, equity, access, and leadership. We believe we must instill these values for our members and the entire computer graphics and interactive techniques community.

AP: For me, it is to make the SIGGRAPH community to appreciate the contributions that people with different backgrounds can bring to our community.

Kevin Griffin (KG): Honesty, fairness, empathy, open-mindedness, social activism, and tolerance.

Alex Bryant (AB): The traits that I feel are significant to the committee include: empathy, inclusivity, respectfulness, and collaboration. 

SIGGRAPH: Can you share how are you planning to provide services for inclusion and support of diverse work cultures across the community?

TB: We have a variety of short- and long-term goals that will serve as a resource for our members. For example, the ACM SIGGRAPH CARES program is intended to provide individuals at our conference events a safe place to talk to designated organization members about issues they experience at the conference. Another example is our review of organization policies and processes, as well as our advocacy to improve access for all. ACM SIGGRAPH strives to showcase how inclusion, diversity, equity, and access make us a vibrant, innovative, collaborative, and strong organization. The impact of diversity adds significant value to our community, encouraging us to make better decisions, develop better algorithms, and better engage across art, media, and design.

SIGGRAPH: The second annual Diversity and Inclusion Summit is coming up. How are you preparing for it?

TB: Currently, we are working to finalize our agenda and speakers for the summit on 28 July. We are asking organizations that are interested in inclusivity — and also participants at the conference — to collaborate and partner with us not only during the conference, but also to explore opportunities year-round.

SIGGRAPH: What would be your message to someone not involved in D&I? Why should the summit be on their list of events to attend?

TB: I would encourage individuals interested in getting involved to provide us with feedback as to what their concerns are, or to share suggestions on how to make our community more inclusive. Anyone should come to the summit and listen to some very interesting topics that will provide insight on research in the field today about how to make organizations more inclusive! 

AB: From personal experience at the inaugural summit in 2018, it was incredible to hear from the variety of panelists on their commitment to provide welcoming work environments.

SIGGRAPH: What is your wish for the D&I Committee in the next five years?

TB: My wish for the D&I Committee, and the organization, is that we have a diverse set of individuals from our community highly engaged and championing inclusivity. I hope that the membership sees our efforts clearly and walks this journey with us to make ACM SIGGRAPH one of the best organizations in the world.

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