American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

From the Director's Desk

Room for Improvement in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Heidi Nelson, MD, FACS

Heidi Nelson, MD, FACS
Medical Director, ACS Cancer Programs

We are grateful to all of you who took the time to complete the brief survey on equity, diversity, and inclusion. We are increasingly aware of just how important this topic is to our members, staff, and to us as a professional organization. We know that from a business perspective, supporting diversity and inclusion leads to better outcomes, but more importantly, it provides an environment where we feel a sense of belonging and of being valued, with equal access to all opportunities. Recent events have stirred a renewed interest in examining how we support equity, diversity, and inclusion, and that was the stimulus for the survey, to get some measure of our current state.

Survey results suggest we are doing very well at creating a welcoming and respectful culture. Scores were 100 to 90 percent from highest to lowest for the following items: treated with respect; opportunities to be involved and contribute; others value my opinion; environment provides for free and open opinion, expression of ideas and beliefs; feeling of being valued; participation enhances professional relationships; sense of belonging; and non-discriminatory toward race, sex, sexual orientation. Scores below 90 but above 70 percent included: welcoming; collaborative; and satisfaction with the culture. The lowest scores for the survey were in the final four questions, those specifically focused on equity and diversity: there is equal access to leadership opportunities; there is sufficient diversity among leaders; there is sufficient diversity among members; and there is a transparent path to leadership. For these questions, scores ranged from 49 to 32 percent agreement, 39 to 32 percent neutral, and 24 to 12 percent disagreement with the statements.

Now that we have this information, we have in front of us an opportunity, if not an imperative, to address the concerns that have been identified. While we have already started the journey of providing greater transparency and access specific to the search process for leadership positions, we will need to accelerate that work and broadcast more widely. Addressing the lack of diversity among members and leaders will require new effort, and for starters, we will coordinate with diversity efforts that are getting underway within the American College of Surgeons (ACS). That will not be enough. Soon, we hope to have a plan to share with you for how we will recruit and retain a more diverse membership; stay tuned!