I honestly should have posted this blog sooner. I think nothing of promoting industry-focused accomplishments and relationships on social media, but I sometimes forget that we should acknowledge them on our website as well.
Recently, the LEDs Magazine team learned that Alana Shepherd's essay "Industry must light the way to equity" has been recognized as a Finalist in the FOLIO: Eddies Awards – Essays and Criticism category. For those who are not familiar, once a magazine launched to cover the magazine publishing industry, FOLIO: is now a publishing industry event organizer and awards program. The brand provides an annual platform to recognize outstanding work on the editorial content (Eddies) and design/layout (Ozzies) sides of print and digital media.
Many times over we have entered these types of awards, looking over the year's body of work and submitting a feature that covers a technical problem/solution in the LED and solid-state lighting industry; an application feature that explains the challenges or objectives of putting LED technology or design techniques into practice in a particular setting; or even a staff commentary highlighting a hot topic or concern specific to the LED and SSL manufacturing and design chain.
But honestly, this year marks the first occasion that I can recall submitting a contributor essay that resonates not only within the lighting community, but across many other industries, businesses, and locales in general. I believe that's why it is worthy of attention.
Principal of the design firm Intangible Light, Alana has channeled much of her time and energy to spreading awareness of exclusionary policies and cultivating allyship for LGBTQIA+ individuals, in particular by founding the North American Coalition of Lighting Industry Queers (NACLIQ). Drawing from her experiences and encounters as a trans woman, Alana resolutely waded into new territory to help found a support system for queer professionals and engage in advocacy and then wrote about the "why" for us. Why do we need this resource? Why do we need to acknowledge the shortcomings of aligning widely proclaimed values of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the LED and SSL business? And how do we accept and move forward with the notion that we can discuss these values in an informed and productive way, to create better business relationships by learning, communicating, and working to change our collective behavior and biases?
Alana's "Last Word" column for the June 2022 issue of LEDs was informative, timely, and heartfelt. She nailed down the "human-first" perspective that all professions need to fully comprehend the wide-reaching impact of inclusivity, while in particular noting how the lighting community can accept, support, and normalize queer representation in its businesses.
We hope to learn in October that this piece is a winner! Regardless, we are grateful to Alana Shepherd for giving us the opportunity to publish it. If you haven't read the "Last Word" essay, I hope you do. I hope you find it enlightening and thought-provoking. I also hope it inspires others in our community to reach out with more proposals on DEI issues and ESG topics. We want to provide engaging viewpoints that can help inform stakeholders' business strategies and other industry initiatives in which they are involved.
CARRIE MEADOWS is editor-in-chief of LEDs Magazine, with 20-plus years’ experience in business-to-business publishing across technology markets including solid-state technology manufacturing, fiberoptic communications, machine vision, lasers and photonics, and LEDs and lighting.