Many Voices, Our Michigan: Diversity matters

May 1, 2017  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,

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The university is in the midst of a five-year strategic plan to create a more welcoming campus that prioritizes diversity, equity, inclusion, civility, wellness and respect.

Toward that end, more than 200 faculty and staff members came together last week for the second annual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Symposium.

At the event, which was hosted by the Office for Health Equity and Inclusion, attendees heard from members of the Michigan Medicine leadership team, learned best practices for implementing diversity initiatives into every day work and helped honor the recipients of six mini-grants.

Leon McDougle, M.D., MPH, chief diversity officer at Ohio State University, delivered the keynote address and hosted an interactive Q&A session on how to improve the organization’s workplace culture.

“The organization can’t reach its goal of becoming fully diverse, equitable and inclusive without all of you being a part of the process,” Marschall Runge, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president of medical affairs, dean of the Medical School and CEO of Michigan Medicine, told the audience to kick off the symposium.

Several implementation leads for the ongoing DE&I plan shared what is working best in their unit or department to improve the environment for colleagues and patients.

Among the best practices:

  • As part of its weekly Grand Rounds speaker series, the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology invited 12 DE&I experts from across the country to speak to faculty and staff. They addressed important topics, such as transgender health care and the reproductive health of women with disabilities. In the succeeding months, the department has seen increased engagement, awareness and interest from staff around DE&I issues.
  • The Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery turned its annual State of the Department address into a diversity retreat. More than 200 staff members discussed the benefits of a diverse work environment and explored ideas on how to foster a more inclusive environment for faculty, staff, trainees and patients. Among the results was the creation of a diversity committee — which has brought in experts to meet with staff on issues such as unconscious bias — and a renewed focus on adding more diversity to the department’s leadership team.
  • The Medical School Administration adopted a new program in which staff members can take up to 16 work hours per year to perform community service. The projects are carried out as a team and must benefit organizations that provide value in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion. While helping the community, the service days have also proven to open up more dialogue and teamwork between diverse members of the administrative staff.

“I’m hopeful that these examples motivate and inspire all of us to improve how we interact with each other and those we serve,” said David J. Brown, M.D., associate vice president and associate dean for health equity and inclusion.

As part of the symposium, Brown’s office also awarded six mini-grants ranging from $3,500 – $5,000 to help further DE&I projects across the medical campus. The winners, along with their proposals:

  • Halley Crissman, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology: Crissman’s team will create a library of job-specific training videos regarding transgender care competency to be piloted by the emergency department and ob/gyn.
  • Beverly Santiago, Office of the Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer; and Brynt Ellis and Carol Ziegler, Office of the UH/CVC Executive Director: The team will develop a series of stories by faculty and staff that highlight their experience with the LGBT community, with the goal of raising awareness and encouraging open dialogue.
  • Michaella Baker, Kavitha Ranganathan, Jennifer Waljee, Michael Englesbee, Department of Surgery – Section of Plastic Surgery: The team will conduct a research study to determine the influence of race and ethnicity on opioid prescribing and post-operative pain management.
  • Juanita Parry, RN, director of nurse recruitment and retention: Parry and her staff will create videos showcasing the viewpoints of diverse Michigan Medicine nurses and why diversity is valued within the organization.
  • Courtney Vanderlaan, Community Health Services: Vanderlaan’s team plans to build a raised bed garden where staff can grow produce to prepare ethnic dishes for departmental potlucks.
  • Kristen Verhey, Cell and Development Biology: The department will create a student-run seminar series that invites underrepresented minority faculty members to interact with other faculty and students to help raise cultural awareness.

Congratulations to all the mini-grant winners and everyone at Michigan Medicine who is working hard to improve diversity, equity and inclusion on campus!

For more information on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at U-M and upcoming cultural awareness programs on campus, visit the university’s diversity website.

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