About HFES

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

A message from the HFES Executive Council, 19 March 2021:

The shootings in the Atlanta area on 16 March 2021 that resulted in the deaths of eight people are tragic and heartbreaking.  Six of the eight individuals killed were of Asian descent and they were women. Violence against women and violence against people of color is an affront to those who devote their lives to creating environments, tools, and methods that enable, enhance, and support people to be their best, most productive selves in their work lives and outside of work.

The HFES Executive Council strongly expresses our unwavering support for all who are struggling in the aftermath of this violence, especially members of the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) community within HFES and beyond, including our student members from Asian countries. 

We unequivocally denounce racism, bigotry, and hate in all forms of expression; our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion remains resolute.  Our actions in support of this commitment include recently issuing a request for proposals for a new grant mechanism:  HFES Seed Grants Targeting the Intersections of HF/E and Anti-Racism/Anti-Bias (proposals due 15 May 2021).  This grant program will stimulate and support projects and research intended to improve our understanding of and reduce/eliminate racism and bias in the systems, environments, products and tools with which humans interact. 

HFES remains committed to the professional and personal well-being of all of our members.

HFES’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

The events surrounding the needless deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as the protests and calls for action, have drawn our collective attention to the deep-seated racism and discrimination that Black and Brown people face each day, including members of our own HF/E community. HFES stands firmly against racism. However, our beliefs may not always reflect the biases we carry. We must all, especially those who identify as White, look within ourselves to recognize and unlearn any bias we carry as a result of having lived and learned in a biased society.

View the HFES Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Webinar Series

We owe it to our members, to the scientific and academic communities, to our Society's next generation, and to the public: to own our past mistakes, to own our role in perpetuating the inequitable status quo, to continuously improve, and to not be silent. We will create opportunity for continuous improvement in our organization, and other avenues as we aspire to improve our representation and inclusivity for our members and others in our broader community. 

HFES will always stand on the side of racial justice and remains committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Further, we urge our members to consider how we, experts in understanding interactions among humans and other systems elements, can contribute to the dismantling of systemic racism.

Action Plan from the HFES Executive Council

The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society denounces racism and discrimination in all forms. Many of our members are saddened and angered by the deaths of so many Black men and women, including recently Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor and Rashard Brooks.  Their deaths have focused attention on long-standing systemic racism and social inequality in this and other countries.  We recognize the harm that these systemic problems inflict on individuals and on society.  We are taking this opportunity to ensure HFES members are informed of our views and deep-seated support of the Black Lives Matter movement and the people behind it. We are speaking out and taking action because we believe that silence, minimization and inaction in HFES will mark our organization as complicit with racism and discrimination. We regret that our original statement was lacking in terms of timeliness and did not adequately reflect the strength of our views. However, this does not diminish our deep-seated support of this movement and the people behind it.

Well-documented racial disparities in policing (Rios, 2011; Brayne 2014) are theorized to result from institutionalized racism, or the system-level design of the criminal justice system (Alexander, 2010; Bell, 2017). Institutionalized racism in other domains, such as housing, education, and mass media further contribute to a mutually reinforcing systemic racism (Reskin, 2012).  Evidence triangulated from studies using various methods lead scientists to conclude that racial disparities are causally associated with institutional characteristics independent of racist intents or beliefs of members of those institutions (Feagin, 2014).

HFES strongly values its vision of “a future in which the reach, relevance, and quality of human factors/ergonomics are greatly expanded by enriching the science and enhancing its impact on solving societal problems”, including systemic racism.  In support of this vision, we value and celebrate the diversity of the students, practitioners, educators, researchers, and others who engage in the profession of human factors/ergonomics and the stakeholders who benefit from their practice.  

Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is a commitment to recognizing and celebrating the variety of characteristics that make individuals unique. These characteristics encompass a broad range, including, but not limited to: race, ethnicity, age, belief system, cognitive style, culture, (dis)ability status, education, gender, gender identity, gender expression, geographic background, job type (e.g., academic, industry, government/military/aerospace, consulting), language, marital/partnered status, national origin, physical appearance, political affiliation, religious beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, theoretical perspective and veteran status.

Two Strategic Goals of HFES specifically address our values related to diversity, inclusion and addressing societal concerns:

Increase diversity across the society, including the membership and leadership, and participation in conferences and publications.  (revised)

  • Identify diversity, equity and inclusion gaps and needs within HF/E.
  • Assess the experience across underrepresented groups engaged in Society events. 
  • Provide diversity, equity and inclusion education and guiding principles for the Society. 
  • Develop programs that target underrepresented or otherwise marginalized populations and encourage participation in the Society.
  • Implement mechanisms that facilitate equal access to information and opportunities to increase diversity across the Society leadership.
  • Increase the diversity of nominees from underrepresented groups for leadership positions, awards, and Fellow status.

Advance the science and practice of HF/E to address current and emerging societal problems.

  • Identify the salient societal problems, the solutions, and the opportunities for HF/E.
  • Expand HF/E into new domains that would benefit from its science and practice.

 Specific actions HFES and its Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Affinity Groups are taking over the next 12 months in support of these Goals and Objectives include:

  • A 360 degree review of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts within HFES. This will include:
    • Immediately prioritizing our understanding of our progress in these efforts by implementing systematic data collection efforts that will lead to a better understanding our member demographics and member experiences
    • Making a change in the Operating Rules to include a member of the Executive Council as a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee
    • Performance of such a review by a knowledgeable third party
  • Prepare and organize annual meeting programming and principles to educate members about inclusion in practice, within and outside of HFES and inclusive design of research
  • Initiate three new idea exchange mechanisms, dedicated to Listening, Educating, and Acting, to support dialogue among members around meaningful change.
  • Initiate a Listening & Acting Webinar series, which will focus on Race, Intersectionality, Equity, and Societal Impact
  • Complete work on developing an award to recognize the contributions of HFES members to increasing diversity and inclusion in HF/E 
  • Train Editors and Editorial Board members of all HFES publications to understand research from the lens of diversity, equity and inclusion to ensure research is rigorous and does not produce differentially negative outcomes for some or perpetuate unfair advantage for others
  • Implement annual diversity and inclusion education and training for all senior leaders of HFES including the Executive Council, Divisions, Committees, Technical Groups, Council of Technical Groups, and conference and symposium Chairs
  • Create a process and identify funds for awarding competitive seed grants for new faculty or new practitioners conducting research or programming at the intersections of HF/E, anti-racism and/or anti-bias
  • Develop an HFES Emerging Leaders pipeline that is dedicated to improving the diversity of and inclusion of future HFES and HF/E leadership
  • Leverage and collaborate with our Affinity Groups for HFES Emerging Leaders pipelines and supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion objectives 

We will continue to listen to voices inside and outside of HFES and explore new ways to actively foster diversity, equity, and inclusion, and fight against racism. The Diversity and Inclusion Committee welcomes your input and recommendations for further action. 

HFES views membership as a privilege and has expectations of its members to uphold the values and priorities associated with diversity, equity, and inclusion when engaged with the profession, with the public, and in research and practice, as stated in our Code of Ethics. 

Cited Research:

Alexander, M. (2010). The new Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. The New Press.

Bell M. (2017) Criminalization of Blackness: Systemic Racism and the Reproduction of Racial Inequality in the US Criminal Justice System. In: Thompson-Miller R., Ducey K. (eds) Systemic Racism. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-59410-5_7

Brayne, S. (2014). Surveillance and system avoidance: Criminal justice contact and institutional attachment. American Sociological Review, 79(3), 367-391.

Feagin, J. R. (2014). Racist America: Roots, current realities, and future reparations. Routledge.

Reskin, B. (2012). The race discrimination system. Annual Review of Sociology, 38, 17-35.

Rios, V. M. (2011). Punished: Policing the lives of Black and Latino boys. NYU Press.

Additional References:

Bonilla-Silva E. Rethinking Racism:  Toward a structural interpretation. American Sociological Review. 1996; 62(June):465-80.

Nelson JK. Denial of racism and its implications for local action. Discourse & Society. 2013;24(1):89-109.

Ostertag SF, Armaline WT. Image Isn't Everything: Contemporary Systemic Racism and Antiracism in the Age of Obama. Humanity and Society. 2011; 35 (Aug.):261-89.

Mauer M, King RS. Uneven Justice:  State Rates of Incarceration  By Race and Ethnicity. Washington, DC: The Sentencing Project, 2007 July 2007.

Gee, G. C., & Ford, C. L. (2011). Structural Racism and Health Inequities:  Old Issues, New Directions. Du Bois review: social science research on race, 8(1), 115–132.

Black Lives Matter explainer: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/a32745051/what-black-lives-matter-means/

Prounouns Matter: https://pronouns.org/ 

Other webpages that have aggregated resources on this topic:  https://odi.osu.edu/racial-justice-resources


Approved, September 28, 2020