Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force Update
Laurel Blakemore, MD & Serena S. Hu, MD
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force Co-Chairs
At the behest of the 2019-2020 SRS Presidential Line, a request for volunteers to serve on the SRS Diversity Task Force this past fall resulted in nearly 35 members desiring to be involved in this important effort. Although we had to limit the group to a more workable committee size, we expect to keep this enthusiastic group involved as we establish our mission and meet our charges. Our members include: Joseph Osorio, Alaaeldin Azmi Ahmad, Joe Minchew, Lael Luedtke, Qusai Hammouri, Darryll Dykes, Addisu Mesfin, Lauren LaMont, Gabriel Liu, Olavo Letaif. Past president Paul Sponseller serves as ex-officio member. The charges assigned to our task force are:
- Perform an initial audit of SRS programs to assess the current level of diversity
- Subsequent audits should be completed to assess the progress being made by the Society
- Review SRS policies and processes, for critical deficiencies in diversity and implicit biases.
- Recommend changes for implementation by the Society, including timeline for implementation and metrics for success
- Identify SRS committees appropriate for implementing the recommended changes (note, that additional committees can be recommended, as well as the extension of the Task Force)
- Translate recommendations into charges for the relevant committees
- Oversee the implementation of the suggested changes
- Summarize for the Membership; creating drive for positive change
After renaming ourselves the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force (DEI), we set out to perform an audit of current levels of diversity across our society, review SRS policies to correct exclusionary wording and implicit biases, as well as gather information to learn best practices to improve our diversity.
Our SRS staff collated data showing the following:
- Members are 89% male, 5.8% female, with 4.8% not listed
- Over 45 years old 75%, under 45, 19%
- Practice: pediatric spine 24%, adult 8%, both 53%, unknown 14%
- We have representation from 64 countries, and 34% of our members are from outside the US.
- About 7% of our members are neurosurgeons; less than 4% are researchers.
- Committee chairs and committee members have similar representation.
- Applicants for membership demonstrate slightly more diversity with 71% of applicants being male, 8% being female and 21% not listed.
- We currently do not collect data for underrepresented minorities (race, sexual orientation etc)
We have reviewed the the SRS Policy book and suggested corrections for more inclusive language. We would also like to collect more complete demographic information from our members, but are evaluating privacy concerns. As diversity, equity and inclusiveness are important areas of attention across multiple areas of our society, members and staff are gathering information to learn what other professional associations have implemented to improve their diversity, equity and inclusion.
We have identified and nominated a DEI Task Force member for elected position in the SRS Fellowship committee. If selected, that member’s participation in both areas will help identify action areas related to that committee’s efforts.
Upcoming efforts include a Podcast for SRS Scoliosis Dialogues as well as submitting an article for Spine Deformity that will discuss how provider diversity relates to health care disparities aimed at raising awareness of this issue.
Co-Chairs: Laurel Blakemore; Serena Hu Task Force: Alaaeldin Azmi Ahmad; Alvin Crawford; Daryll Dykes; Qusai Hammouri; Isaac Karikari; Lauren LaMont; Olavo Letaif; Gabriel Liu; Lael Luedtke; Addisu Mesfin; Joseph Minchew; Joseph Osorio