The Audio Engineering Society introduced its first Diversity and Inclusion Committee at its New York convention last week.
The event was held to make the committee’s purpose clear in terms of diversity and representation in the industry, promoting a more demographically diverse and inclusive AES membership with broad representation from working audio professionals.
Speakers on the committee included AES vice present Leslie Gaston-Bird, recording engineer Leslie Ann Jones (pictured) and Women’s Audio Mission founder Terri Winston.
Gaston-Bird is notably the first African American to serve on the AES Board of Governors. She said: “It’s so important to get different viewpoints on what diversity actually means, so I think it’s important for us to constantly engage with our membership and let them know that we are listening, and we want to appeal to everyone we can.”
Winston said that diversity starts with education. “[Women’s Audio Mission] is heading into its 15th year, and we’ve trained over 10,000 women and girls in audio. We’re up to training 1,500 women and girls every year, and are about to push that to 3,000 women and girls every year. So we’re not focusing on the data; we know that the data is bad. We’re focusing on the solution. We’re very focused on education, [teaching] underserved girls.
Recording engineer and producer Leslie Ann Jones added: “Things have really changed since I started—hearing conversations about people using a genderless name [on job applications] so that they can be treated equally. I chose to use my middle name so people knew that I was a woman … [but] I think, with a concerted effort from all of us, [greater diversity in audio engineering] will happen, instead of it being so segmented.”
AES Executive Director Bob Moses concurs, adding, “If AES has a singular mission, it's to lift everyone in our industry through innovation, education, and networking. The more rich and diverse our community, the higher we go."