Our Continued Call to Collective Action and Sustainable Change

David Myers, Ph.D., CEO and President
Karen Francis, Ph.D., Vice President and Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer
Black Lives Matter protest in Portland Oregon

Today marks one year since the death of George Floyd. It was a moment of great tragedy, as Mr. Floyd laid helpless for nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds with police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on his neck. Our nation again finds itself at an inflection point as we remember Americans and citizens across the world of all races coming together in peaceful protest of Floyd’s murder and declaring with solidarity that “Black Lives Matter.”  

Image of David MyersIt has been a very difficult year, made even harder by a global pandemic, an extremely contentious election season, and continued violence against people of color. But amid the tears, the anger and the disappointment, there have been signs of hope. Our country has begun to grapple with the reality of long-term systemic racism, marginalization, and inequity, recognizing the immense and, far too often, fatal impact this has on people of color. For the corporate and non-profit world, it led to a call for new strategies and measures that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in all phases of their operations.

At this moment, we are called to collectively engage in bold thinking to address the inequities that persist in all aspects of our global society. For well over a decade, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) has been working to deliver on our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). We do not have all the answers, and we realize that we have a way to go on this journey. But we have established structures, supports, and services to drive our efforts. We have been taking deliberate actions to hold ourselves accountable through an established DEI framework and performance metrics to drive diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels in the organization. We are continually examining our policies, procedures, and practices to ensure that they are aligned with the principles of DEI and cultural and linguistic competence (CLC). We will continue to engage staff at every level to support authentic and meaningful integration of DEI and CLC into our work, which will only improve how we serve our clients and communities in the U.S. and around the world. For AIR, this is far more than just an internal exercise. 

Image of Karen FrancisThrough the AIR Equity Initiative, we are investing more than $100 million over the next five years to generate and use evidence that will help create a better and more equitable world. The Equity Initiative is a mission-driven, self-funded effort that seeks to address the social and economic inequities that arise from systemic segregation and systems of inequality—in communities, in school, in work, and in health. This includes strengthening our efforts to diversify the behavioral and social science research fields through our Pipeline Partnership Program with Howard University, Georgia State University, and The University of Texas at San Antonio. In the coming months, we will discuss the particulars of our work supported through the AIR Equity Initiative and share more about implementation leading to action. 

Today, as we remember the life and tragic death of George Floyd, let it also be a reminder of the pervasive inequities that still exist and are perpetuated across far too many facets of our global society. We have an opportunity and the duty to address those inequities. We must continue to work together and not return to complacency. The time is now to make sustainable change.

Image of David Myers
Chief Executive Officer
Image of Karen Francis
VP, Chief DEI Officer, and Interim AIR Equity Initiative Director