Inclusion Strategy and Policies

SETAC’s strategy to foster inclusion follows this three-pronged approach:

  • Removing barriers
  • Guarding against systematic bias
  • Creating intentional, welcoming spaces

Removing Barriers

Barriers that limit participation in our society can be based on a myriad of factors, including logistical, financial, social, cultural or otherwise. Barriers can only be removed by first identifying their existence and then addressing them through continuous assessment and adjustments. How barriers are removed depends very much on the type of barrier. At SETAC, we try to reduce financial barriers by offering differentiated fee structures and grants. We remedy logistical accessibility barriers by intentional design (e.g., hiring language interpreters, offering close captioning). Finally, we work to remedy barriers to opportunities by continuous transparent education and communication.

Guarding Against Bias

An unconscious bias is a reaction in support of or against specific issues or people formed outside the conscious mind. At SETAC, we guard against many of these unconscious biases in our programs by using an anonymous review process. We also rely on our members to understand and recognize their personal unconscious biases to rectify them, and we provide resources and support where possible. 

Strategies to Overcome Personal Unconscious Bias

  • Affinity bias or ingroup favoritism: Preferring people who are similar, all else being equal. Counter this by leaving your comfort zone and reaching out to more people. 
  • Availability bias: Giving more credibility to information we can quickly recall. Counter this by recognizing that you don't have to have an immediate answer or response.  
  • Confirmation bias: Preferring a priori beliefs and expectations. Counter this by recognizing your preferences and being open to new ideas.
  • Egocentric bias: Relying too heavily on your own perspective. Counter this by stilling your voice and hearing other perspectives.
  • Framing effect: Basing decisions or criticisms on the way something is presented, not the thing itself. Counter this by actively focusing on the facts.
  • Halo effect: Assuming positive traits based on one positive known fact or even power, rank or status. Counter this by using critical thinking skills. 
  • Objectivity bias: Believing that one is objective and therefore immune to bias. Counter this by recognizing that we all have bias and  inviting and accepting feedback.

Creating Inclusive Spaces 

Download the “Creating Intentional Inclusive Spaces” handout. 

SETAC prides itself on being the global home of environmental professionals. As such, one of our key functions is to create a forum for collaboration to advance the field. Having welcoming spaces that foster dialogue is integral to that. Knowing that the success of any collaboration in any space depends on the active engagement of all participants, SETAC strives to provide inclusive spaces that are welcoming and nurturing.

Inclusive spaces are devoid of harassment and bullying of all kinds.

Harassment is universally defined at SETAC as any form of behavior that is unwelcome or unwanted, offensive, denigrating or hostile, carried out by an individual or group, in a way that demeans, intimidates, humiliates, abuses or sabotages the person or their work and causes physical or emotional harm.

Bullying is a form of harassment that is more aggressive, persistent and part of a pattern, but it can also occur as a single egregious incident.

Operationalizing SETAC Inclusion Strategy in Policies and Programs 

Ensuring that our programs reflect the diversity of our membership and the resources we provide are equitable and accessible, with a goal of creating a community where everyone feels included and welcome, is integral to advancing both the mission at SETAC and collaborative efforts in the environmental sciences globally. After all, societies play a very important role in defining the culture of the discipline. SETAC’s strategy to foster this sense of community is to embed inclusion considerations into all policies, processes and programs.

SETAC Functional Areas

  1. Discipline – Environmental Sciences
  2. Governance and Policies
  3. Operations
    1. Employment
    2. Communication
    3. Partners, Sponsors and Vendors
  4. Programs
    1. Events (Meetings and Workshops) 
    2. Grants
    3. Membership
    4. Outreach
    5. Publications
    6. Professional Development



The maintenance of a just and fair system where all are treated fairly. 


The provision of the resources and opportunities that each person needs based on their individual circumstances, in order to reach equal outcomes for all.


The appreciation of the presence of people of varied personal characteristics that make us different from one another, knowing that leads to excellence. 


The delivery of equitable access to everyone along the continuum of human ability, experience and logistical parameters.


The supply of equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized based on personal characteristics that make us different from one another.


The feeling of being a part of something bigger while being allowed the space to stand alone.