Mentorship and culture change through AO Access

The benefits of workplace diversity have been proven in terms of productivity, innovation, and financial success, yet there remains underrepresentation of some groups within the AO. The AO Access mentorship task force has been created to develop a program to address these issues and contribute to a positive culture change.

Below are the demographic profiles of the four AO clinical divisions from the 2019 Opportunity, Diversity and Inclusion survey and delivered through AO Access.


AO Spine

AO Trauma


There is significant attrition of underrepresented groups during their career pathways in medicine. For example, in the United States, 13 percent of the population is Black, but only 7.1 percent of medical school entrants are. Of these, only 1.7 percent go on to gain full professorship in otolaryngology. Even where groups are not underrepresented initially, there is subsequent attrition. In the United Kingdom, 58 percent of admissions to medical and dental school were female but only 11 percent of consultant surgeons were female. The reasons for this are clearly multifactorial, but a significant influence is the organizations’ prevailing culture that limits the progression of these groups, whether consciously or not.

Mentorship means many things to many people, with definitions including:

“Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximize their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be.”
Eric Parsloe

As such, mentorship works to challenge an individual's perception of their potential career options, their role within an organization, and the culture of the organization as a whole.  It also includes elements of sponsorship, and of signposting individuals to opportunities that they may not have previously considered such as more senior leadership positions. It can also provoke contemplation of issues such as culture and diversity in all participants from both under and overrepresented groups.

Effective mentoring provides the tools to enable a mentee to progress along their chosen career path and therefore reduce the attrition rates discussed above. As the representation of these underrepresented groups improves, and there are more visible role models for others to follow, so too will the diversity of an organization improve and its culture change.

AO Access offered three webinars in 2020. You can access them by using your AO log-in details:

The Right Mentoring Connection May Change Your Life

Growth, Sustainability, and Innovation Through Enhancing Workplace and Organizational Diversity

Diversity Initiatives in the Workplace: Evidence-based Approaches and Outcomes

Please join our community via this LinkedIn group.

To learn more and become involved, visit the AO Access web page or contact us at diversity.inclusion@aofoundation.org.

FacultyFocus 1 | 2021

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