FacultyFocus 2-2019

enhance opportunity, diversity and inclusion in your institution

10 tips to

The AO recognizes that diversity and inclusion are increasingly important issues and is developing projects, programs and policies to increase the diversity of its leaders, faculty, learners and staff.



Efforts to promote diversity are underway and today we are sharing some tips to help enhance opportunity, diversity and inclusion both at the AO and within your own institution in order to address health care needs of diverse populations and to accommodate the diverse needs of your own students and teams.




1. Implement initiatives that use inclusive language and space.

A diversification strategy must include all elements and departments of the organization. It cannot only be a human resources (HR) initiative limited to recruitment. Long-term plans to include a diverse workforce in all elements and hierarchies are needed.


For example:

  1. Include a diversity statement on your institution’s website.
  2. Include a diversity statement on all job postings.
  3. Write job applications that appeal to diverse candidates.
  4. Make meetings accessible to all (not in a bar or at a golf course).




2. Approach opportunity, diversity and inclusion bottom-up and top-down in your institution.

Include diversity initiatives in the organization’s values, mission, community outreach and public image, as well as in the technology and operative methods of the organization to keep things strategic and not cosmetic.




3. Create a supportive environment where productive debates and exchanges can take place.

Evaluate your own personal biases, perceptions and attitudes of the different groups within your institution and its context. Also consider your institutional prejudices and how these relate to your own viewpoints in order to then identify strategies to effectively challenge possible prejudices and identify policies or changes that need to be implemented.




4. Cultivate empathy and authenticity.

Empathy has been identified as a key component of professionalism by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and the Association of American Medical Colleges with empathic concern being a requisite of selfless action, placing the patient’s interests above self-interest.







5. Become culturally competent.

Health care professionals (HCPs) and health care organizations need to take the intersectionality of, for example, ethnicity, age, gender, migrant status, otherly-abled, level of education, geographic location, sexual orientation, thought and socioeconomic status into account.



6. Do not make assumptions about people or their ideas.

Consider possible biases you may have and commit to continuous improvement; be willing to learn, listen and ask for feedback.




7. Mix up your teams.

Analyze the composition of your workforce regarding numbers of females and minorities. Compositional diversity aims for an adequate reflection of the population within your staff demographics. Although female students outnumber male students in eg, veterinary medical schools, women are still underrepresented at higher levels in the medical profession. Gendered processes of inclusion and exclusion still play a role in medical training and more so at the expense of female graduates.




8. Commit to making the environment inclusive and diverse.

Commit to creating a supportive learning and work environment for your staff, learners and patients.  Embrace differences, promote collaboration and prepare learners to challenge and address societal inequities by establishing a supportive space to have difficult yet meaningful conversations.


9. Use gender-fair language in discussions, presentations and publications to reduce discrimination and gender stereotyping.

Being gender inclusive in your teaching and communication can be challenging at first. However, research shows that creating a culture of inclusion and diversity in education has indirect benefits—such as enhancing creativity and improving problem solving and decision-making—for all (Levine and Stark 2015; Phillips 2014). Gender-fair language has been shown to reduce both discrimination and gender stereotyping.



10. Eliminate barriers.

Be creative with how work gets done. Flexible meeting and work times allow those with child- or eldercare responsibilities to be included in leadership of the organization. Research shows that the most productive people are the busiest and the busiest people complete tasks faster and better.




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