Our final Advancing Inclusion and Global Perspectives award goes to the individuals of the J-Pal North America Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group. J-PAL North America is a regional office of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab in the Department of Economics, in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.
J-PAL’s 35 full-time staff work with a network of 180 affiliated professors—at MIT and around the world—to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. To do this work, they must have a diverse staff attuned to how poverty, bias, and racism intersect . . . staff adept at interacting with a wide range of external partners, from the urban homeless to rural nurses. This means communicating across lines of difference and actively working to address bias.
About two years ago, the staff of J-PAL North America formed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group. Since then, the core team has:
- reassessed recruitment and hiring processes,
- created an Inclusive Language Guide to provide guidance on how to avoid communication pitfalls,
- initiated relationships with key Institute-wide inclusion efforts, and
- integrated a focus on anti-bias and anti-racism into their work.
The group also created a guide to landing a research assistant position in economics—a key step in the PhD pipeline. This guide was shared on social media by many prominent economists. Sharing this information with the world helps underserved populations gain a foothold on the academic ladder.
As a J-PAL colleague noted: “I have learned a tremendous amount from this group. They have challenged how I think about leadership and how I view my personal responsibility—not only to be supportive of their efforts but also to proactively bring this lens to all our work at J-PAL North America.”
Congratulations to the J-Pal North America Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group, and thank you for leading progressive change:
Isaak Belay Kifle
Vincent Quan, and
We are grateful for the work of this team.