‘I am so appreciative that our senior leadership has progressed feedback from the membership‘
An extensive report from ACLP’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Presidential Task Force—a working group launched only last September—was received by the Academy Board at its mid-year meeting in April. A copy of the report can be downloaded from this link.
The Board has already moved ahead with one of its key recommendations—and created a new DEI subcommittee of the Membership Committee which will now review the report’s multiple proposals in detail and recommend implementations based on its findings.
Later in the year, members will be consulted on a proposal to evolve the subcommittee into a full standing committee of the Academy, which will come in the form of a bylaw amendment at the CLP 2021 annual business meeting.
Subcommittee chair Leena Mittal, MD, FACLP—appointed by ACLP president Maria Tiamson-Kassab, MD, FACLP—says: “I am so appreciative that our senior leadership has progressed feedback from the membership, especially from those who identify as being part of historically under-represented groups.”
Dr. Mittal, Department of Psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, was a member of the DEI presidential task force, chaired by Kewchang Lee, MD, FACLP, which examined:
The task force split into sub-groups and solicited input from the chairs and vice-chairs of ACLP’s committees, subcommittees, and SIGs on their groups’ thoughts, concerns, and recommendations about DEI issues.
“The task force recognized that systemic racism, sexism, homophobia / transphobia, and other forms of systemic bias and discrimination have demonstrably adverse health effects on our patients and reduce the professional and training opportunities available to our members,” says the task force in its report.
“We also recognize the key role of C-L psychiatrists in translating our understanding of the psychological and structural harms of systemic bias into positive changes in medical practice, education, and systems of care. For this reason, the task force underscores the importance of ensuring the sustainability of the implementation of our recommendations across the multiple dimensions of diversity, including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic circumstance, national origin, geographic background, immigration status, military status, and religious and spiritual beliefs.”
The task force emphasized the importance of creating a culture that fosters a sense of belonging and inclusion, regardless of how members identify. And it highlighted that DEI is relevant to multiple aspects of C-L Psychiatry, including our work as educators recruiting trainees into our field, as members of an organization seeking to recruit a more diverse membership, and as researchers and clinicians “seeking to reduce health care disparities among our patients who come to us with diverse backgrounds, identities, and varying degrees of disenfranchisement.”
Dr. Mittal describes the task force’s recommendations (see panel below) as ambitious and far-reaching.
“Over the past few years, I have been working within my organizations and institutions to center and elevate the voices and needs of colleagues and patients from historically marginalized groups, and DEI work has become a passion of mine,” says Dr. Mittal.
“We as an Academy are fortunate to have leadership truly leaning in to the work that the Academy has to do to make it an organization that is truly inclusive and a source of professional growth that ultimately benefits members and the patients we serve.”
ACLP’s president Dr. Tiamson-Kassab has been personally driving progress on DEI—by working closely with the task force to consider and implement recommendations, and by founding ACLP’s first DEI subcommittee. In a statement, she says the Board will try to do what they can, and this will be “just a start.” Not all of the recommendations can be accomplished at once but they are challenges to aspire towards.
Signaling the importance of this action to members, her appeal for volunteers to join the subcommittee was rapidly flooded with offers of support. Volunteers were asked to indicate:
Subcommittee appointees will be announced shortly.
Task Force Recommendations
The task force’s recommendations include: