Response of AUA to executive order on D&I
This statement is issued in response to the United States Executive Order entitled, “Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping,” issued on September 22, 2020.
The Association of University Anesthesiologists was founded in 1953 to support and advance research and scholarship in anesthesiology. The AUA strenuously disagrees with the Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping because it misrepresents efforts to promote diversity and inclusivity in academic anesthesiology programs and their sponsoring institutions. These institutions are recipients of federal grants and contracts, and are therefore directly impacted by this Executive Order.
Diversity and inclusivity (D&I) are central to a competitive, creative, and innovative biomedical workforce; undercutting these concepts will hurt our country’s standing as a leader in scientific inquiry. D&I training efforts aim to address the institutional, societal, and state policies which contribute to systems that explicitly or tacitly enable discrimination against and oppression of certain groups of people. Such systems undermine our research endeavors by omitting talented prospective researchers and faculty members.
The AUA is strongly committed to and values meritocracy – the idea that individual effort, drive, and capability are key determinants of success. D&I efforts ultimately serve to uphold meritocracy by systematically identifying and eradicating barriers that prevent meritocracy from operating unfettered. However, such efforts require open discussion about these barriers, including racism, sexism, and other forms of individual and structural discrimination. Such open discussion will be weakened by this Executive Order.
We strongly advocate for training programs that are inclusive and that foster discussion without assigning blame. In so doing, we will provide equitable opportunities that will ultimately benefit science, medicine, and the United States at large.
Equality and Inclusion
The Association of University Anesthesiologists (AUA) Council is strongly committed to creating a culture within our organization with equality and inclusion as core values. We believe that each of our members’ institutions should also strive to attain a culture where all people are welcomed and equal. Black Lives Matter (BLM) is deeply interconnected with our ideals of equality and inclusion, and we wholeheartedly support the BLM movement.
Therefore, we are calling for recognition and celebration of the holiday known as Juneteenth, which is this Friday, June 19.
Juneteenth marks the anniversary of the end of slavery, on June 19, 1865. The holiday has historically been an important annual celebration in the Black community. The AUA Council believes that this year – 155 years after the abolishment of slavery – it should be celebrated in all communities, and to serve as an annual reminder that racism, intolerance and injustice to any group has no place in medicine or our community as a whole.
LGBTQ Supreme Court Ruling
This month is not only the time of year that Juneteenth is celebrated, but is also the annual Pride Month celebration. The AUA Council also recognizes and supports the civil rights of LGBTQ individuals, and we would like to applaud the United States Supreme Court for its ruling this past Monday (June 15, 2020) that protects gay or transgender individuals against employment discrimination. Steps like these are crucial strides toward creating a fair, just and inclusive culture for all but clearly there is more work to be done.
AUA Leadership Advisory Board (LAB)
In response to the current climate, the AUA Council has established a Leadership Advisory Board. The LAB will be also help strengthen our organization by developing strategies and tactics to:
- Establish an equitable and inclusive environment for AUA members; and
- Engage in deliberate outreach within academic anesthesiology to achieve diversity within AUA membership.
Police Brutality and Racism in America
The past few months and the past few days have been particularly difficult for our communities. The disparities in health outcomes uncovered by the Covid-19 pandemic have lifted the veil on the systemic inequities in healthcare. The recent horrific events with the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd expose the racism that are endemic in our society.
The AUA fully endorses the AAMC Statement on Police Brutality and Racism in America and Their Impact on Health. We stand in support of our colleagues, our trainees, and our communities in this struggle. We recognize the stress and anguish many are feeling.
We urge our members and our community to listen in order to learn how to be better advocates. The AAMC calls on all of us to acknowledge our own biases. We have started this process in our own home. Throughout the past year, AUA leaders have taken steps to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion within our society and within academic anesthesiology. Our work is starting; we continue to strive toward our goal for an equitable and inclusive society that better represents the diversity of our academic community.
As AUA members, we are academic leaders in our specialty. We are committed to adding our voice and to being the leaders of change in our specialty. The AUA Council will therefore propose an amendment to the bylaws in support of establishing a Leadership Advisory Board, to elevate the voices of our constituents, to anchor our work in best practices, and to achieve equity in our association. This serves to formally begin our work to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion that we all hold as core values.