Guiding principles

What the AOA is doing to promote diversity, equity and inclusion

AOA staff and leadership recently discussed a detailed plan with the Board of Trustees that ensures an ongoing effort to combat racial injustice and inequality.

To celebrate Black History Month, the AOA is recognizing the countless contributions made by African Americans in U.S. history and reaffirming a commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the osteopathic medical profession. AOA communication channels this month have included highlights of these efforts on social media, articles about African American osteopathic pioneers in The DO and videos from physicians committed to DEI.

February will be over soon.

The AOA’s commitment to diversity, equity and racial inclusion will not end when the calendar flips to March. Earlier this week at the AOA Mid-Year Meeting, AOA staff and leadership discussed a detailed plan with the Board of Trustees that ensures a year-round effort to combat racial injustice and inequality.

Benefits of DEI

The AOA’s strategy to promote equity is not exclusive to race. It also will include all areas where discrimination exists, such as gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexual preference and disability.

“The AOA is committed to addressing these issues in an impactful way, and we can start by looking internally for ways to be more inclusive within all aspects of the organization,” says AOA Chief Engagement Officer Priya Garg.

Research shows that diversity brings many advantages to an organization: increased profitability and creativity, stronger governance and better problem-solving abilities. Leaders and employees with diverse backgrounds bring equally diverse perspectives, ideas and experiences to help promote organizational cohesiveness, resiliency and effectiveness.

“DEI are not merely buzz words or taglines to me or to our great organization; they are an integral part of successful organizations because this is simply the right way to treat people,” says AOA CEO Kevin Klauer, DO.

The AOA’s plan includes four major objectives:

  • Develop and maintain an inclusive workplace environment that welcomes and incorporates diverse perspectives and backgrounds at all levels within the organization
  • Create processes and programs to ensure our physician leadership is reflective of the osteopathic community and that the profession more broadly reflects the patient populations it serves
  • Demonstrate the organizational impact of diversity, equity, and inclusion on our professional community, membership, leadership, and workforce
  • Communicate our progress with internal and external stakeholders

In the workplace, the AOA will strive to ensure that all employees and physician leaders are treated with equity and respect. In addition to providing equal access to advancement opportunities, employees will continue to participate in sexual harassment and discrimination prevention training, and a “DO Tell” submission box will remain available so employees can easily report possible discriminatory behavior. Staff leadership also developed a set of guiding principles that illustrate a commitment to supporting our workforce, both professionally and personally.

DEI in AOA leadership

Working directly with the Board of Trustees, the AOA staff plans to develop outreach mechanisms to attract a diverse pool of applicants for leadership roles. This plan includes targeting roles for medical students, residents, fellows and new physicians in practice.

“When the AOA officially launches this plan, we will continue to emphasize a commitment to increased opportunities for minority physicians and osteopathic medical students,” says AOA President Thomas Ely, DO. “Most importantly, diversity, equity and inclusion are also guiding principles for fair and just treatment of the entire osteopathic medical community, as well as our patients.”

The AOA is also planning to implement a comprehensive reporting strategy for accountability purposes. This includes the development of a DEI vision statement and communication strategy. AOA staff and leadership will also track statistics and trends–the fourth part of the AOA’s strategies noted above. AOA will identify demographic data of medical students, the overall membership, staff and leadership, then annually measure these metrics and trends.

Ultimately, the goal is to assist with the advancement of DEI in the entire osteopathic medical community.

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