Recognizing our diverse global membership as our strength and an asset has been key to building a professional home for all in the endocrinology community. I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the outstanding initiatives created to continue the vital and innovative work of our members to cultivate and support a more diverse and inclusive environment.
This year’s annual meeting featured informative sessions addressing the importance of reducing and ultimately eliminating endocrine-related health disparities and improve healthcare for all. ENDO 2021 featured three scientific sessions that focused on health disparities and the impact of bias on health outcomes:
- The highly popular Clark T. Sawin Memorial History of Endocrinology Lecture titled, “Lessons Learned from the History of Identifying and Addressing Health Disparities in Endocrinology and Diabetes,” which provided a broad historical perspective on the emergence of research showing dramatic racial and ethnic disparities and factors that help improve health indicators and potentially close the gap between racial and ethnic groups;
- “Addressing the Impact of Structural Racism on Endocrinology and Health Care” — a session tackling structural and institutional racism, how these issues have led to social determinants of health that contribute to risk of endocrine disorders, and strategies to address social determinants of health into clinical and population health models; and
- “How Do We Confront Disparities in Obesity and COVID-19 Treatment” — a look at the physiological, clinical, social, and behavioral aspects of disparities in obesity and obesity treatment.
We have worked to develop and implement new strategies to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion into all of our activities and to address endocrine health disparities over the past few years. The inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Town Hall virtual meeting held on April 14 was a starting place for members of our committees to engage in dialogue that catalyzes action across all core areas of the organization. More than 70 committee members joined the conversation on identifying ways to work together to ensure our vision of diverse representation, equitable access to education, and inclusive leadership within endocrine science and medicine is realized.
We have worked to develop and implement new strategies to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion into all of our activities and to address endocrine health disparities over the past few years.
As part of our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, we felt the need to revisit our decision to hold ENDO 2022 in Atlanta, Ga., after the state passed a recent voting law that disproportionately places voter restrictions on minority communities. After careful research and consultation with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, U.S. Senators Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock, and Dr. Bernice A. King, CEO of the King Center, and daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we learned our departure from Atlanta would create economic hardships for the very minority communities we want to support. We are now exploring opportunities to demonstrate that commitment during ENDO 2022 from June 11-14, 2022, including the possibility of holding an ENDO Cares program to provide medical resources, coaching, and education to local patients and healthcare providers in the Atlanta area.
We are weaving messages about the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion into our advocacy work:
- We raise the issue every time we discuss access to healthcare;
- We support inclusion policies at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and provided recommendations for the NIH UNITE program;
- Our Advocacy & Public Outreach Committee and Committee on Diversity and Inclusion have partnered to develop a policy perspective on combatting disparities and to respond to the Biden administration’s equity initiative;
- We discuss the impact of unaffordable prescription medications on minority populations;
- We highlight the impact of diabetes and obesity on minority populations and the need for additional research to better understand these impacts and COVID-19 on these groups; and
- We have led efforts to expand and implement the NIH’s sex as a biological variable and inclusion policies.
We are playing a key role in supporting the next generation of endocrine scientists from underrepresented minority communities. Our Future Leaders Advancing Research in Endocrinology (FLARE) program welcomed a new cohort of 11 talented fellows at its leadership workshop held online April 27 – 30. Fellows selected for the FLARE class of 2021 are a balanced mix of senior graduate students, postdoctoral and clinical fellows, and junior faculty. The goal of FLARE is to provide early-career scientists from underrepresented minority communities the skills to achieve successful, rewarding careers in endocrine research. Our first FLARE virtual workshop focused on the importance and impact of building your network, effectively communicating your science, building effective research collaborations, negotiating the right position, and much more. The leadership development that occurs during FLARE is often transformative and is an example of how our Society has created meaningful change around improving diversity in the field. Over the nine years of its existence, 161 fellows have participated in the FLARE program. The newest group of fellows are looking forward to their highly anticipated one-year committee internship placements and we look forward to having them contribute to the work of our committees.
More than 70 committee members joined the conversation on identifying ways to work together to ensure our vision of diverse representation, equitable access to education, and inclusive leadership within endocrine science and medicine is realized.
In the coming months, we will explore a new opportunity to provide leadership development training to clinical fellows from minority groups underrepresented in science and medicine. The Excellence in Clinical Endocrinology Leadership (ExCEL) program is a comprehensive initiative that will offer fellows a pathway to develop their leadership abilities, gain guidance and coaching from dedicated Society mentors, and participate in career-building service opportunities through various Society activities.
These are just a few of the collective initiatives that position us to make a difference and move us toward more equitable and inclusive outcomes for our members and the communities in which we live. Stay tuned to learn more about our upcoming programs and services.