Nondiscrimination language added to diversity policy

Published on May 10, 2017
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​The AVMA Board of Directors agreed April 7 to update the “AVMA Policy on Diversity and Inclusion” to add nondiscrimination language that includes, among other things, both gender identity and expression as well as parental, marital, and pregnancy status. The modifications reflect the importance of diversity and inclusion in ensuring access to veterinary care for all segments of the U.S. population, according to the recommendation background.

The diversity and inclusion policy, available here, now reads as follows:

Diversity and Inclusion
The AVMA is committed to diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the profession of veterinary medicine so that we can best serve the animals, the public, and our members. Our goal is to mirror the growing diversity of the communities we serve and to promote an understanding of their varied needs. To this end, we are committed to actively promoting and maintaining diversity and inclusion in our membership, leadership, and organization, and educating our members regarding the value of diversity and inclusion. This commitment embraces the value of the many areas of the veterinary profession, and the value of our members’ and their clients’ varied backgrounds, including but not limited to race; ethnicity; physical and mental abilities; gender; sexual orientation; gender identity or expression; parental, marital, or pregnancy status; religious or political beliefs; military or veteran status; and geographic, socioeconomic, and educational backgrounds.

The first AVMA Policy on Diversity, adopted in 2004, simply stated that “The AVMA is committed to diversity in all aspects of the profession so that we can best serve the animals and public. This commitment to diversity pertains to professional areas of service and to cultural, ethnic, gender, and racial representations.”

The policy was revised in 2012 with changes suggested by the now-sunset AVMA Member Services Committee. The revisions added language to the policy primarily in three areas:

  • Promotion of inclusion.
  • Acknowledgment that veterinarians live and work within communities that are constantly changing.
  • Recognition and valuing of the many different aspects of diversity.

Regarding the last point, the MSC had noted that the preceding three or four decades had presented the profession with a huge gender shift and exposure to new cultures, concepts, and challenges.

Dr. Bradley and Jeff Olivarez
Dr. Karen Bradley, District I representative, and Jeff Olivarez, Student AVMA president, listen during the AVMA Board of Directors’ April 6-8 meeting. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

Review of the “AVMA Policy on Diversity and Inclusion” was initiated in 2015 in response to discussions at the House of Delegates regular annual session that year and comments received through the AVMA@Work blog, and in preparation or the standard five-year review as directed by AVMA policy. More recently, the Lesbian and Gay VMA started a letter-writing campaign to encourage the addition of wording on gender identity and expression.

Finally, the change establishes consistency among AVMA policies following revisions to the AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics, to which similar nondiscrimination language was added at the April 2016 Board meeting. The document had been amended at the behest of the House of Delegates and Dr. Elizabeth Sabin, associate director for international and diversity initiatives.

Related JAVMA content:

AVMA stands for “respect and dignity” of all members (June 1, 2016)