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Thomas J. Miner, MD
I would like to take this opportunity to follow up on an important message we heard Dr. Touloukian emphasize many times during his presidency: a call to promote full participation in NESS by all possible members. The promise of diversity and inclusion not only meets an obligation to membership, our profession, our patients and our respective communities, it better positions our society to flourish as we fully leverage the skills and talents of our membership.
The importance of diversity and inclusion in surgery is much more than simply “doing the right thing.” Diversity in Medicine and Surgery is probably best represented by those individuals who have overcome long-standing norms and allies who have recognized and advocated for the inclusion of all individuals. Despite a long and proud history of surgical champions who challenged standard dogma with new ideas, the number of individuals who have been given the chance to express such diversity of thought has been limited. Diversity includes, but is not limited to, race, socioeconomic background, gender, sexuality, and/or religion. When people are excluded, opportunity is lost not only for the individual but for our profession and patients as well. In the business sector, companies who intentionally create a more diverse workforce are more innovative, able to better navigate potential obstacles and improve financial return by 15-35%. For Surgery to reap such rewards, all members must be included fully. Brene Brown appropriately stated, “Belonging is being somewhere where you want to be, and they want you. Fitting in is being somewhere where you want to be, but they don’t care one way or the other.” To fully prosper, we must ensure that all surgeons “belong.”
To promote inclusion as a Society, we should: listen to all members with an open mind regardless of background; be mindful of language and intentional about the choice of pronouns, humor, and mannerisms; when discrimination is recognized, members should speak up to promote respect for our colleagues and support them as they advocate for themselves; and, members and leadership should advocate and ally fully with all of our peers to promote advancement within the organization.
At the suggestion of several fellow members, I have included the following links on the subject:
Thomas J. Miner MD