Why Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Matter to GEOINT

USGIF BRIDGE Working Group observations

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) are more than just forward-thinking tenets—they’re pivotal catalysts that drive innovation, resilience, and success.

In the intricate and expansive domain of geospatial intelligence (GEOINT), DEIB is not merely an aspirational ideal, but a fundamental necessity. Presenters at a recent USGIF “Women as Leaders” event noted that companies with inclusive cultures reported a 59% increase in innovation and companies with higher diversity in management earned 38% more revenue.

Integrating DEIB best practices into the GEOINT realm enables us to recognize and remain mindful of biases, be they systemic or personal, conscious or unconscious. Bringing a DEIB-mindful approach to GEOINT missions paves the way for more informed decisions, products, and strategies.

In other words, if we want GEOINT organizations to reach their full potential, it’s important to foster DEIB practices.

USGIF has showcased its commitment through tangible actions, including highlighting related topics in GEOINT Symposium programming, USGIF’s “Women as Leaders” series of events in 2023, and the formation of the USGIF’s Building Respect, Inclusion, and Diversity for the GEOINT Enterprise (BRIDGE) Working Group in 2022. The ongoing efforts of this group involve consolidating DEIB best practices and spotlighting diverse personal stories from within the USGIF community.

Broadening Perspectives through Personal Narratives: The Power of Storytelling

Geospatial data offers a multifaceted view of our world, and so do the myriad stories of USGIF’s diverse membership. Recognizing the power of these narratives, the BRIDGE Working Group is actively spotlighting and amplifying these voices, ensuring that the geospatial field benefits from their unique insights and experiences.

A prime example of BRIDGE’s dedication to highlighting diverse perspectives is the impactful “First, But Not Last” series of speakers joining the BRIDGE meetings. This part of the regular BRIDGE meetings has successfully showcased trailblazers within the USGIF membership, celebrating their journeys, challenges, and accomplishments. The series honors these members by sharing their narratives and inspires others to break barriers.

The act of sharing and listening to personal stories from the diverse USGIF membership strengthens the bond between USGIF and the communities it serves. It fosters understanding, mutual respect, and a genuine sense of belonging.

By giving a platform to the diverse voices within its ranks, USGIF is celebrating its current talent and attracting future trailblazers. This active championing of DEIB stories underscores the organization’s commitment to fostering an inclusive and nurturing environment.

Setting a Benchmark for GEOINT 2024 Symposium

With a vision for the future, the BRIDGE Working Group is dedicated to presenting a comprehensive DEIB best practice white paper by the GEOINT 2024 Symposium (May 5-8, 2024). This goal signifies the group’s commitment to establishing USGIF leading the way for DEIB practices in the community.

One of the issues the group seeks to address is the matter of data biases, whether rooted in data specifics or cultural influences, that can jeopardize the foundational integrity of geospatial/GEOINT work and its end products. The BRIDGE Working Group’s endeavor to consolidate DEIB best practices seeks to lay a robust framework that ensures unbiased, accurate, and representative data interpretations.

To measure the impact, BRIDGE will seek to understand the state of our community as it relates to DEIB. With a focus on a “Sense of Belonging,” the intent is to assess the community’s culture and identify specific avenues for improvement. Results will be shared at GEOINT 2024 as we collaborate with the community to identify the paths forward in DEIB.

USGIF members are welcome to join the BRIDGE Working Group; learn more here or email us for more information.

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