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SEM Ethics Committee Suggestions to SEM Board

Tuesday, August 11, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Stephen Stuempfle
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The following statement was prepared by the SEM Ethics Committee


SEM Ethics Committee (hereafter EC)

Suggestions to the President, Executive, and Board

July 27, 2020


With this document, the SEM Ethics Committee formally proposes suggestions intended to assist the professional society in adapting and responding to ongoing challenges that we understand to be systemic and ethical in nature. We believe, moreover, that formally outlining the structural relationship between this committee, SEM governance, and other related committees will help SEM better adapt and respond to inevitable future challenges.


The EC would like to remind readers that the EC is currently an advisory rather than  governing, executive body in relation to the SEM President, Board, Executive Director, and membership. It is not a grievance committee nor is the EC designed to settle matters pertaining to professional conduct. The EC understands, however, that matters of professional conduct do in some instances overlap with issues related to ethics. The EC therefore appreciates that it may be called upon to advise the SEM President, Board, Executive Director, and membership where an overlap between professional conduct and ethics issues has been identified.


The SEM-EC respectfully suggests that SEM:


1. Governing groups help to co-design formal procedures whereby the SEM-EC and other committees are regularly consulted in the development of statements of ethical concern, review of professional conduct and complaint issues, and other matters. Formal procedures could include but are not limited to co-designing appropriate terms of reference and election processes for committees, describing positions for leadership on committees, and asking that committee minutes or notes be kept on any decisions taken to enhance clarity and transparency. We also recommend the development of a formal, transparent complaints process for redressing complaints. In such a process the EC and / or other committees should act in an advisory capacity only. Conflicts of interest should be carefully monitored and avoided through a robust complaints process design. The above will require revision of SEM’s By-Laws if adopted (also see point 4 below)


2. Pool resources of members of the Diversity Action, Ethics, Academic Labor, and other relevant groups or committees and at least one member of the Board to form a focus group that would develop a strategy to examine SEM’s approach to inclusivity, equality, and diversity.


3. Plan meetings between members of governance (the Board, or selected members of the Board and Council) and leaders from the membership, including but not limited to the board of the Gertrude Robinson Network, Project Spectrum, the Diversity Action Committee, and other grassroots SEM organizations, to craft a plan for the future of the society. We strongly recommend that within the next 6 months the society hire an independent, well-reputed social justice facilitator to provide an independent assessment. This should be a highly trained mediator who works with groups and communities for healing and justice around issues of racism and conflict–management.


4. Invite the membership to vote on an in-depth review and, where appropriate, revision of SEM’s By-Laws to ensure they reflect modern academic practice and enhance diversity in leadership and academic participation. The decision on whether to vote on a review and revision of the By-Laws should be communicated to the membership by the 2020 Annual Meeting.


5. Invite the membership to vote on whether it would welcome affirmative action quotas for the SEM Council, Board, and Standing Committees to enhance diversity. Voting should occur by the 2020 Annual Meeting. If the membership favors quotas, the exact quotas should be developed in consultation immediately after the 2020 annual meeting.


6. Review all official SEM communication platforms (print and digital), not just the SEM-L listserv, and ask which media are most appropriate for communicating with the membership (this may be more than one). This review should take into consideration matters related, but not limited to: SEM’s demographic and communication preferences; publication ethics and scholarly rigour; data protection and physical accessibility issues; the increased ability of social media platforms to capture, surveil, and monetize personal data; the legal implications and consequences of having easily-accessible information about SEM on social media platforms; visibility and ability to attract new and more diverse members; the right to express opinions freely and without censorship; transparency and the role of moderators vis-a-vis the levels of confidentiality and professional decorum the SEM wishes to maintain among its membership. This review should involve the Publications Committee, as well as constituent groups representative of the demographics, interests, and governance of the Society.


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