Diversity and Inclusion and the ASNR

By John E. Jordan MD, MPP, FACR

The American Society of Neuroradiology (ASNR) states on its website that it is “dedicated to maximizing the benefits of neuroradiology to patients and other providers, by promoting the highest standards for training and practice, and fostering research in the field.”  Moreover, the mission statement of the ASNR is to “promote the medical and social well-being of persons with disabling neurologic disorders, to advance training and research in the basic and clinical sciences that can lead to functional recovery of neurologically impaired persons, and to disseminate the knowledge of this research among professionals and the general public.”  The ASNR has evolved into a highly complex and diverse organization since its founding in 1961.  Its activities encompass, but are not limited to: advocacy; clinical standards and guidelines; health policy matters, payment policy and government liaison functions; basic and clinical research, grant funding; a variety of publications including the American Journal of Neuroradiology, Neurographics, social media, and electronic publications; education, including the Annual Meeting and Symposium; subspecialty Society support and management; and the administration of the Foundation of the ASNR.

The ASNR has become more complex in part as the U.S. society has become increasingly diverse and complex.  For example, demographic trends indicate that the major minority populations in the U.S., sometimes collectively referred to as ‘people of color’ (Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, other groups), represented roughly 40% of the population in 2016.  By 2050 that proportion is expected to increase to 54% of the U.S. population. (1)  Furthermore, the world as a whole has become increasingly diverse and interconnected.  In recognition of the growing diversity in the U.S. the ASNR Board of Directors has established a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force to recommend courses of action to the ASNR in order to incorporate diversity and inclusiveness throughout its many programs, functions, and activities.   It is anticipated that this Task Force will evolve into a permanent standing Committee of the ASNR.  Many businesses and organizations have also embraced diversity and inclusion as a strategic imperative.  At a basic level, diversity indicates the ability of an organization or institution to leverage the power of its diverse individuals or diverse elements, while inclusion connotes a cultural branding to welcome and encourage the diverse inputs, creative intelligence, and talents of these individuals.  This in turn can propel an organization to ascendancy and greatness.

An apt analogy of ascendancy and greatness as a result of its diverse elements is the U.S. Olympic team.  As a whole it is unrivaled by any other country, even those more populous than the U.S.  From the gymnasts, to the sprinters, to the swimmers, and alpine participants–it may not dominate in every single endeavor–but in the aggregate, it is unparalleled as a team, and coterminous with its diversity.  Publicly traded companies that truly embrace diversity and inclusion outperform those in financial returns by up to 35% compared with industry means.  When analyzing those companies for gender diversity in leadership, they were 15% more likely to have financial returns above industry means (2,3)

Ultimately, it must be emphasized that the ASNR is an organization dedicated to the advancement of science in its domain and sphere of influence.  And diversity and inclusion efforts recognize that there is no scientific basis for unfounded bias that limits the creative intelligence, innovation, and expressions of any diverse body.  Such biases based on gender or race or ethnicity usually derive from social constructs rather than scientific principles.  Witness that neuroimaging of the brain reveals similar features and radiomics across races, for example, and it is impossible to deduce one’s race or ethnicity from the images alone.  Furthermore, anthropologic sciences have revealed that the diverse human family has descended from a common primal origin.  It is in the spirit of this awareness that the ASNR embraces diversity and inclusion, and encourages all of its members and affiliates to embrace these values as well, further augmenting the house of neuroradiology value chain. (4)

References

  1. S. Census Bureau, 2017 National Population Projections, Projections of Race and Hispanic Origin, 2017-2050.
  2. Hunt, V., Layton, D., Prince, S. Diversity Matters. February 2015. McKinsey & Company Report. Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/business%20functions/organization/our%20insights/why%20diversity%20matters/diversity%20matters.ashx  [Accessed February 21, 2020].
  3. Rock, D., Grant, H. (2016). Why Diverse Teams are Smarter.  HBS No. H038YZ. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing.
  4. Lightfoote JB, Fielding JR, Deville C, et al. Improving diversity, inclusion, and representation in radiology and radiation oncology part 1: why these matter. J Am Coll Radiol. 2014;11(7):673–680. doi:10.1016/j.jacr.2014.03.007

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