How diversity and inclusion guides the ADA

As a new dentist, you are probably keenly aware of the benefits of diversity and inclusion. Maybe you saw firsthand how collaborating with someone from a different background than you improved the results of a group project in dental school. Or maybe you noticed how listening to a colleague with a unique perspective changed the way you think during your residency. Or maybe you observed how caring for a particular patient caused you to re-evaluate how you treat all patients. Whatever your experience, you can rest assured that the American Dental Association shares your appreciation for diversity and inclusion. So much so, in fact, that the ADA lists diversity and inclusion among its core values.

The core value for diversity and inclusion was presented to the ADA Board of Trustees on April 23, 2018 and with full support, the Board officially adopted it.

According to Harvard Business Review, “Core values are the deeply ingrained principles that guide all of a company’s actions.” In the case of diversity and inclusion, these principles have been guiding operations at the ADA for years. For instance, since 2003, the organization has held an annual Institute for Diversity in Leadership program. The ADA now continues to strengthen this commitment at all levels of the organization. Many of us have a sense of what diversity is, but it’s important to recognize that not all diversity is visible. It also includes education, background, religion, sexual orientation, language, and more.

While diversity is widely considered an asset to organizations, inclusion is making sure that every one of those differences count. Striving to have all people represented and included, welcomed and valued, is the hallmark of inclusion. Inclusion is having everyone engaged and participating at various levels within an organization – allowing unique perspectives to influence our work. A diverse and inclusive organization boosts the quality of decision-making and encourages greater creativity. We believe inclusion involves a daily commitment to empower each other through genuine respect, sharing and valuing others’ thoughts, perspectives and beliefs and treating others the way that they want to be treated.

As an organization, the ADA strives to incorporate diversity and inclusion into our everyday decisions and interactions. Ultimately, the ADA will work hard moving forward to foster an inclusive decision-making process through flexibility and openness to change, in support of an innovative and dynamic culture that produces sustainable results.

Editor’s note: Created by Erica Colangelo, MPH, [day job] senior manager, ADA Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry; [passion project] chair, Diversity and Inclusion Core Value workteam.

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