Only 35% of veterinary school applicants in 2020 were BIPOC. If you break that down into specific identities, Latinx, Asian, Black, and Indigenous people each represented less than 10% of applicants.
Our employees and clients crave diversity in the workplace. We must do better here as a profession.
Many of us get into vet med because of our love for animals. But vet med is inherently an incredibly people-oriented business. And a love for animals is a very powerful thing that transcends race, religion, income, sexual identity, gender, and all the things that make up our diverse and vibrant world of humans.
We work closely with one another in fast-paced, high-intensity environments. We partner with clients of all backgrounds to champion the health and safety of their pets. To successfully serve the diverse demands of our profession, we need to celebrate DEI and build on our collective strengths.
We must work to include, uplift, and amplify diverse members of the pet health ecosystem. Doing so not only makes our team culture stronger and better, but it makes our workplaces and client experiences more welcoming, human, and magical for all.
Below, we’ve pulled together some tactical steps you can take to centering DEI in your day-to-day practice operations.
3 Steps to Promoting DEI in Your Veterinary Practice:
1. Educate yourself & create a safe environment
“One size does not fit all in how we hire,” says Niccole Bruno, Founder of BLEND, “it’s critical to offer a diverse perspective into your hospital culture. When you can identify their unique strengths empower your team to utilize their strengths collectively, it can truly be transformational.”
“It creates pride in their role, and employees bring their natural selves to work. But we first must foster this environment by creating space for people to believe their opinions and perspectives matter.”
Looking for resources on DEI in vet med?
- PrideVMC’s Allyship Toolkit
- BLM’s Healing in Action Toolkit
- WVLDI Resources
- VMAE’s Guide for Advancing DEI in Veterinary Medicine
Don’t see a resource here you’d like added? Email us, and we’ll add it!
2. Encourage & offer diversity training
To Niccole, the best way to truly celebrate DEI is to educate your staff. “We can provide training for our teams to build cultural competence and create opportunities to improve patient care, engage within our communities and assist in pipeline development.”
Less than 70 years ago, segregation was still legal in the United States. The riots at Stonewall were less than 25 years ago. We may have come a long way, but we still have a ways to go.
Humans are awesome, but we’re not perfect. Nobody needs or expects you to be “perfect.” But you do have to be open-minded. Keep learning, growing, and evolving.
Offer DEI training regularly. Find new experts and teams to partner with. Continue expanding your whole team’s knowledge over time, not just as part of onboarding. And certainly not just over one lunch-n-learn.
3. Build a DEI team
Empower your people to support DEI initiatives in your practices. Even small practices can find their employees most passionate about DEI and assemble an internal DEI team.
This internal DEI team can help:
- Identify room for improvement
- Research and present solutions to support DEI in your practice
- Educate coworkers on DEI
- Celebrate the vibrancy of teams and support DEI beyond your four walls
- Track results of DEI initiatives and continuously improve
Want to explore more practical tips?
Check out the section on DEI in The Ultimate Guide for Awesome Culture in Veterinary Medicine.
Want to share some of your favorite practical tips?
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From the Experts
From Niccole Bruno, Founder @ BLEND:
“Veterinary medicine needs to first acknowledge the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion in improving our hospital culture and practice. We can look at providing training for our teams to build cultural competence and create opportunities to improve patient care, engage within our communities and assist in pipeline development. We have to truly recognize the interconnection between DEI and the future of our profession.
DEI in practice is honoring the differences within our veterinary teams and then empowering them to utilize their talents for the benefit of veterinary medicine. We all have different strengths based on our personalities, background, and lived experiences. Understanding that “one size does not fit all” in how we hire is critical to offer a diverse perspective into your hospital culture. When you can identify their unique strengths empower your team to utilize their strengths collectively, it can truly be transformational. It creates pride in their role, and employees bring their natural selves to work. But we first must foster this environment by creating space for people to believe their opinions and perspectives matter."
From Laura Pletz, President @ WVLDI:
“Creating a diverse team should always be a focus because nothing strengthens an organization more than having a breadth of experiences and perspectives.
When you have a diverse team, AND they feel free to be their authentic self in the workplace, you create a safe and trusting environment where all can flourish and do their best work.”