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NIST Joins Department of Commerce and Colorado Governor Polis to Celebrate Pride

Nist Pride

NIST's Communication Technology Laboratory (CTL) was honored to take part in the June 14 Department of Commerce PRIDE panel discussion.  The webinar highlighted the current state of the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in the public sector. This event was hosted by the Boulder Labs Diversity Council, Commerce Pride, NOAA Pride, and NIST Pride.  Dr. Dowell, CTL and Boulder Lab's Director, remarks echoed the themes of fellow panelists of gratitude of past champions who fought for greater acceptance and are actively working towards more equitable organizations.  

Watch Governor Polis's video, view the NIST PRIDE slide deck, and read Dr. Dowell's Remarks below: 

I’d like to thank the DOC Boulder Labs Diversity Council and the Department of Commerce for their work on DEI Initiatives and for hosting us today.  It’s a privilege to celebrate PRIDE month. I join today’s speakers in cheering for the acceptance of living your truth and commemorating the bravery of past pioneers and current change champions who continue to fight for equality for the LGBTQ+ community. 

Real change is hard-fought, and thanks to the perseverance of those who pursue equality for all, the signs of progress are clear today.  From the board room to the chambers of Congress, we see authentic representation crafting laws and policies that will help to continue our journey towards a society that benefits us all.

As a leader in a male-dominated profession, I have many of my own stories of the emotionally fatiguing toll it takes to forge a path of change.  The reality is that the slow arc of change often outpaces our patience.  And that burden of waiting is all too often carried by those who need change to fully reap the benefits our Nation and organizations offer.  I’m here today to leverage my privilege to be that ally, to do the work to make NIST and Commerce better organizations for everyone.

NIST believes that investing in creating a culture for all is of equal importance to the excellence of our science.  Together we strive to establish and maintain a workforce that reflects America’s diverse populace and promotes an environment that respects and values individual differences. NIST recognizes that the ability to recruit, develop, and retain a highly skilled and diverse workforce is key to the Institute’s continued success.

To further our efforts in reaching our vision, we welcomed NIST’s new DEI Director Sesha Moon this month.  Driven by a philosophy that Diversity is delegating differences. Inclusion is celebrating differences. And equity is elevating differences.   She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to NIST and we are thrilled to have her on board.

Dr. Moon reminded us that as long as our colleagues shy away from being their least apologetic and most authentic selves at work, we know we still have more to overcome. Achieving true diversity, equity and inclusion is everyone's responsibility.

That responsibility starts with an honest introspection into our roles in scaffolding systems and cultures that do not benefit everyone and continues with an intentional change of our day-to-day behavior and operations. 

At NIST we have found success in:

  • Using data-driven approaches to show a clear picture that women and marginalized communities experience a different NIST than their white male counterparts. 
  • Personal development training has taught our staff to look beyond our biases and how to be more effective advocates. 
  • Creating spaces to hear each other because dialog, disagreements, and discussion is how we will move forward. 
  • Supporting a variety of affinity groups, heritage events, and cultural education opportunities. Later in our event, you will hear from Michael Lueckheide of NIST PRIDE on efforts to move us forward while advocating for a more inclusive work culture.  

In the coming months, my lab will modify our hiring practices to expand the diversity of our candidates and ensure a more equitable and unbiased hiring process.  We will also modify our performance processes to hold ourselves accountable for creating an inclusive culture.

NIST is known for an unwavering pursuit of scientific excellence to achieve American innovation.   That same steady approach guides us past headlining trends to invest in real, lasting organizational change.  Today and tomorrow NIST is driven by the understanding that a diverse and authentic workforce is the recipe for success to deliver the needs of our Nation. 

I am encouraged by those on the panel and the work the Department of Commerce has accomplished.  We call on all of you listening in today to join us in our continued efforts to create a more equitable and inclusive organization. 



Released June 15, 2021, Updated June 16, 2021