With its June 24, 2020 approval of the new and visionary Project Access, the AO Foundation Board set the course for the organization’s future, demonstrating the AO’s commitment to addressing existing inequalities to entry and advancement within the AO, and to identifying and overcoming barriers. Project Access will drive these changes through implementation of pro-diversity initiatives that have already been evaluated and shown to be effective in other workplaces; interventions focused on changing people's perceptions of what is normative; and creation of a more inclusive and supportive working environment.
The Opportunity, Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) working group (Amy Kapatkin, Samantha Morello, Matthew Allen, and Tatjana Topalovic) over the past 18 months has developed an evidence-based approach to increase diversity, equalize access to opportunity, and build effective mentoring pathways within the AO community. Learn about the initiative and its milestones and get regular Project Access data here.
Mentorship, a critical component of making the AO more diverse and inclusive, was incorporated under the umbrella of the ODI initiative in December 2019. The fundamental goals of the mentorship program are to:
AO Foundation President Robert McGuire, MD, said actions speak louder than words, and Project Access proves the AO’s commitment to change.
"Although words are important, actions matter most: Our leadership ought to look more like our members and the patients they serve. Project Access is our vehicle to identify, train and support our community and beyond in order drive change. One of my goals has been to evolve the culture and governance of the AO’s boards, committees, and volunteer structure to become more innovative and diverse,” McGuire said. “With this in mind, I am pleased to announce the formation of Project Access, which encompasses our inclusion, diversity and mentorship models for the AO. Project Access will provide the resources needed to affirm and strengthen the AO and expand the opportunities available in our community and beyond."
AO Foundation CEO and Vice-Chairman Christoph Lindenmeyer emphasized that foster diversity is very important for the AO’s future.
“I mean not only gender diversity but also, age diversity; young surgeons with potential need to get promoted,” he said. “Fostering opportunity, inclusion, and diversity through mentorship and other channels will help."
Project Access is based on a concept of task forces, recruited through open calls—making it diverse, inclusive and transparent—with representatives from all AO regions and across all of the AO's clinical divisions, clinical unit, and institutes, involving surgeons and staff alike. The project’s success is tied to engagement of people, including self-nomination to take part. Getting started as a contributor to this project’s exciting diversity, inclusion, mentorship, and sponsorship work is as easy as completing this short survey.
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