The Society of Plastics Engineers has formed an advisory board to support diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in the plastics industry.
SPE announced Aug. 10 it was launching the new group to "bring these issues to the forefront" and develop resources to support DEI education, professional development and recruitment in the association and the industry.
The advisory board will be chaired by Elizabeth Anne Gardner, a senior chemist and materials engineer at Jabil Inc. The vice chair will be Saurav Sengupta, a principal research scientist in packaging and specialty plastics at Dow Inc.
"It is vital for SPE's membership to know our commitment to DEI principles and to understand that we have created an advisory board to help the society, its stakeholders, and the plastics industry as a whole embrace our goals of fostering diversity and inclusivity," Gardner said. "By providing the necessary tools and resources, we strongly believe we can achieve these goals."
SPE officials said they see a strong business case for gender, ethnic and cultural diversity helping companies be more profitable than less diverse organizations.
"Diversity, equity and inclusion should be business imperatives for SPE's members' companies and academic institutions," said SPE CEO Patrick Farrey. "SPE is striving to create an environment in which everyone feels respected and valued, and has equal opportunities to develop, advance, and be heard."
SPE said it's a founding member of the Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, math and medicine), and has been addressing sexual and gender-based issues "to make certain that those who work in STEMM industries are doing so in a safe and welcoming environment."
The group also said the new panel would support existing work by the SPE Foundation's DEI workforce initiative.
"This initiative creates education, employment and advancement opportunities for all students across the entire plastics value chain," said Eve Vitale, the foundation's CEO.
"Bringing polymer/plastics-based STEMM educational programs to historically excluded people and communities prepares us all to be global citizens by exposing students and professionals to people from different cultures and social groups," she said.
Other members of the panel include Farrey; retired plastics engineer Brian Gibson; Allison Lin, vice president of procurement and sustainability for Westfall Technik Inc.; Lynzie Nebel, vice president of member engagement at SPE, upstream quote engineer at Cytiva and co-host of the "PlastChicks" podcast; and Cathy Nestrick, co-host of the "Parity Podcast" and a former vice president and general counsel at Berry Global Group Inc.
As well, members include Diego Pedrazzoli, a senior research engineer at Johns Manville; Jonathan Quinn, director of marketing development & sustainability at Pregis; Sherrika Sanders, a senior technical engineer at Manner Polymers; Eloa Garcia Moreira Silva, the DEI, culture and development leader at Braskem America; and Patricia Viotto, human resources and DEI head, North America, for Braskem.
Additionally, Vitale from the SPE Foundation and Sue Wojnicki, director of member experience at SPE, are also on the advisory board.