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March 01, 2021

Health Law Connections

CEO Corner—An Update on AHLA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Journey

  • March 01, 2021
  • David S. Cade , American Health Law Association

“We need leaders who care enough, know enough, have the courage to do enough, and who will persevere until the job is done.” — Dr. David Satcher, 16th U.S. Surgeon General & Founder, Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine

It was 15 years ago when our Board recognized that to embody the diverse community of health law professionals we serve, our Association needed to give attention to outreach and training in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Dr. David Satcher’s quote speaks to this journey we continue to embark on, to invest and support DEI in our profession. And on this journey, we want to share important milestones with you, our members, along the way.

Providing the Resources Needed to Lead

In October 2020, I commissioned a staff-led Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) Committee. This committee will assist and advise AHLA in developing and maintaining a workplace and organizational culture that promotes inclusion by all parties, values and celebrates diversity in all forms, strives for equity across the Association in all areas, and ensures equitable access to everyone. They will work with our Membership, Diversity+Inclusion (MDI) Board Committee to ensure we continue to advance diversity and inclusion as strategic priorities.

In December, we began a partnership with The Diversity Movement that helps organizations integrate DEI strategies into the core of their business. This engagement has included a cultural assessment and review of past initiatives, an analysis of various selection processes and procedures, facilitated training and unconscious bias eLearning for all current AHLA appointed leaders, a Board of Directors workshop, and recommendations and a timeline to advance key DEI initiatives.

And just last month, AHLA aligned with the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion Pledge™, joining a community of more than 1,600 organizations that have committed to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace. This engagement unlocks numerous resources for both the IDEA and MDI Committees that will spark conversations and lead to new initiatives.

Leading on the Topic of Health Equity

As we all watched the events of last year unfold, from the murder of Mr. George Floyd and other distressing events of racial injustice, to a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic that swept our nation and shined a light on health disparities, we began to ask ourselves, “What more must we do?”

Our community is well positioned to provide analysis on issues surrounding health disparities. We recently announced a special December 2021 issue of the Journal of Health and Life Sciences Law focused on “Emerging Issues in Health Equity in the United States: Legal, Legislative, and Policy Perspectives.” We also launched a Health Law Hub on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Health Care (www.americanhealthlaw.org/DEIinHealthCare), which will help our members and the public stay informed on analysis of this issue, with a goal of our community having the conversations necessary to facilitate change and provide better health outcomes for all.

Your Role

This journey requires involvement from every member, including you. My first ask is for you to provide or update your demographic information in the myAHLA portal (www.americanhealthlaw.org/UpdateMyDemographics). The more data we have on our membership, the better equipped we are to set benchmarks and goals to increase diversity in our volunteer pool.

Additionally, consider proposing topics on the law as it relates to DEI in health care. We want to highlight our members working in this space for program sessions, webinars, articles, podcasts, and more. To submit a topic, please see our volunteer opportunity at www.americanhealthlaw.org/DEIinHealthCareTopics.

Although we have been busy, our journey is nowhere near complete. We will continue working with our Board to foster new DEI initiatives, and advance the Association and our profession, as a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable community. Together we will persevere until the job is done.

For more information on these updates, please review the related news items on our website at https://www.americanhealthlaw.org/LatestNews