Still Just Talking About Diversity
How many radiology leaders does it take to change a lightbulb, I mean build a diverse radiologist workforce?
As a person who supports diversity, I wish there was less talking about diversity. You're probably scratching your head at that one. Diversity enriches our lives and our workplaces, so everyone should be on board with talking about it. By talking about diversity, a lot of awareness has been being generated about the importance of diversity, about unconscious bias, etc. Yes, people have been talking about diversity, but I don't know how much diversity has resulted because of all that talking. Perhaps a lot has been achieved, perhaps only a little. I simply don't know.
So what I mean when I suggest talking less about diversity is that the focus of diversity efforts should shift more to demanding on-going evidence of progress toward diversity from those leading the diversity charge. Key questions leadership should answer include: What are your diversity goals? How are you achieving them? How close are you to your goal? What are the barriers to you achieving your goal?
When it comes to diversity in radiology, ACR leadership should be answering those questions. In the September 2014 ACR Strategic Plan, one of the "3-5 year goals and objectives" -- with goals being defined as "outcome-oriented statements" and objectives described as "what constitutes success in measurable terms" -- is to "grow and retain the membership and foster meaningful membership engagement."One objective listed under that goal is to "increase diversity and inclusion in the radiological professions". It's been three years since the publication of this Strategic Plan, so I have to ask: What progress has been made toward the goal and objective mentioned? What are the outcomes so far? Is radiology doing better with respect to diversity? If not, why not?
If the leaders of the ACR want more women and underrepresented minorities (URMs) in leadership roles, then the ACR should, like Captain Jean-Luc Picard of "Star Trek: Next Generation" says: "Make it so". The ACR has asked its members to pledge to Image Wisely, Choose Wisely, etc. Perhaps the ACR leadership and radiology leaders around the country can also pledge to be diverse: "We, the leaders of the ACR, pledge to have ____% of leadership composed of women and URMs by the year ____." It may seem like a quota, but without clearly-stated and specific targets, you might end up with a situation like an oldcommercial where a consultant who just gave an impressive elevator pitch to a business leader and is then enthusiastically told to "Do it" by that leader, but responds: "Sir, we don't actually do what we propose. We just propose it."
In addition to clear specific diversity targets, replace leadership statements about diversity that begin with aspirational phrases like with "we can" and "we should", with active phrases such as "we are...." and "we have...". For example, instead of a statement like "The ACR should have more women and URMs in leadership positions", imagine hearing or reading: "Since the year ____, the ACR has increased women and URMs in leadership positions from ___% to ____%, with a target of _____% by the year____". With a statement like that, radiologists wouldn't be just talking about or proposing diversity. They'd see that the ACR is on track to actually achieving it.
Will the ACR achieve diversity targets if it sets specific ones? Maybe. Does it matter? Maybe not, as long as progress is made, is quantified and is shared. Diversity isn't about some perfect magical blend of people resulting in a workplace Shangri-La or the result of a precision recipe for success. However, without targets, you're just shooting in the dark.
The image at the top of this blogpost shows a diverse group of individuals, each with a different type of lightbulb. I see the lightbulbs as representing a diversity of opinions. As long as the group keeps debating the relative merits of each of their lightbulbs, trying to select just the right one or ones to best illuminate the room, they remain in relative darkness. To leaders everywhere I say: When faced with a diverse array of lightbulbs, make the bold decision to pick ones that together have a decent chance of achieving a rich and harmonious spectrum of brightness. Then, step into the light.
Moderated by Drs. Arun Krishnaraj, Kristina Hoque, and Katarzyna Macura, the questions for this month's tweetchat are:
- How do you define diversity?
- Why is diversity important in medicine?
- How does your workplace aim to increase diversity?
- What would you do to enhance diversity in your group? In your health system?
I hope you'll share your diversity success stories during the tweetchat. Those who are committed to a diverse workforce, but are struggling with how to make diversity a reality in their own institutions and businesses, could really use role models. After all, it's one thing to want diversity, it's another to "Make it so." Join in on the chat on Thursday, August 24 at noon EDT, by searching for #JACR on Twitter and by including #JACR in your tweets.