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Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (J.E.D.I.)

NSGC's Statement of Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (J.E.D.I.)

A guiding principle of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) is to integrate genetics and genomics to improve healthcare. As a society, we can only meet this goal by promoting the active participation and leadership of people with diverse identities, perspectives, and backgrounds. Starting within our organization and extending into the larger healthcare system, we seek to empower our members to advocate for themselves, each other, and the diverse people we strive to serve.

View Full J.E.D.I. Statement

Exeter Group’s Organization DEI Assessment of NSGC

Thank you for your interest in the Exeter Group’s Organization DEI Assessment of NSGC.

Please watch this video from NSGC President, Sara Riordan, MS, CGC, with an important update on NSGC’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (J.E.D.I.) initiative and a request for action from our members.

 

Disclaimers

  • We anticipate that parts of the report may be hard to read or triggering. This may cause a wide range of feelings and emotions to arise, including defensiveness. Please practice self-care and take breaks as you need. If you sense defensiveness in yourself, please question this and try not to provide feedback from a defensive place.
  • The full Exeter Group report is 300+ pages. It includes quotes and summaries of the member/staff survey findings, focus groups and stakeholder interviews. It reviews NSGC documents, policies and procedures, then closes with recommendations for NSGC. It may take significant time to read the report in its entirety.

Links to Exeter Group Report

View Executive Summary

View Full Report

Exeter Group’s Recommendations for NSGC

Please click here to jump down on this page and read the full list of recommendations provided by the Exeter Group

Comment Period: April 28th - June 9th

The Exeter Group’s report is a powerful tool because it gave us an opportunity to listen to the experiences of our members and non-member genetic counselors. As we work to build a more just, equitable, diverse and inclusive society, the NSGC Board of Directors recognizes the importance of continuing to provide opportunities for input and listening. We’d like to hear the voices of our members and stakeholders, which includes but is not limited to organizational partners, students, non-members and prospective students throughout the stages of our journey. In this spirit, NSGC has opened a comment period from April 28 - June 9, where we will be accepting comments on the report and the priorities of our stakeholders, as we work to develop a J.E.D.I. Action Plan.

Submit Your Comment

Why is NSGC asking for comments?

NSGC is seeking comments to help us to prioritize our action plan for these recommendations, as outlined in the chart below.   

  • Quadrant 1 - Do Now: High Impact, Urgent 
  • Quadrant 2 - Do Next: Lower Impact, Urgent
  • Quadrant 3 - Do Later: High Impact, Low Urgency
  • Quadrant 4 - Do Never: Little Impact, Low Urgency

Focus efforts on implementing actions that fall into Quadrants 1 and 2. Consider what aligns with other strategic imperatives as a starting point.

Will NSGC respond to comments?

NSGC is striving to acknowledge all comments submitted during the comment period. We anticipate that responses will be sent after June 9.

Tell Us More About Your Reaction to the Report

NSGC is also looking for your feedback on the recent release of the Exeter report and what changes you believe it will impact in your professional life. Please consider submitting a video to NSGC using the tool to the right that answers any of the following questions:

  • What impacted you most as you read the Exeter Report?
  • Are there changes you feel you may make because of the report?
  • Why is this initiative important for NSGC and our profession?
  • What does justice, equity, diversity and inclusion mean to you?

 

Share Your Photo

Please also consider sharing your photo. As NSGC prepares to launch our J.E.D.I. Action Plan later this year, we are also working to develop appropriate imagery to accompany our J.E.D.I. efforts. For work this consequential, stock photo imagery just didn’t feel right. So, we are asking for your help. We encourage all genetic counselors to consider submitting a photo of themselves through the link above. Help us to create an aspirational mosaic image that aims to include all identities within our community, a core tenet of our J.E.D.I. initiatives. 

What are Exeter Group’s Recommendations for NSGC?

Take Action, Over Talk

  1. Develop a DEI Strategic Action Plan and share the plan with members.
  2. Provide regular updates on DEI Strategic Action Plan and DEI initiatives.
  3. Create a compensated, DEI Lead position with responsibility for guiding the integration of DEI into NSGC operations.
  4. Develop organization-wide definitions for diversity, equity, and inclusion with explicit links to NSGC mission, vision, and values.
  5. Incorporate DEI into business operations such as providing a DEI update at all staff and member meetings.
  6. Implement regular DEI-related communications such as a dedicated space in newsletters. Consider inviting members to submit articles.
  7. Empanel short-term taskforces to develop and issue guidelines that advance DEI in the profession.
  8. Issue annual reports of progress on DEI initiatives.

Increase Accessibility to Annual Conference and Website

  1. Provide conference sessions in a hybrid format.
  2. Record and make presentations available to watch on-demand.
  3. Ensure each conference session has a sign-language interpreter and transcription.
  4. Consider accessibility when selecting conference venue.
  5. Allot adequate time between sessions to accommodate individuals with limited mobility.
  6. Modernize and update website regularly with general and DEI-related content.
  7. Evaluate accessibility of website and update to current accessibility best practices.

Develop DEI Metrics and Communications

  1. Incorporate DEI-related goals into overall organizational and leader objectives.
  2. Provide rewards or recognition to staff and members who complete DEI-related work.
  3. Collect data on diversity dimensions for award recipients, board members, and scholarships.
  4. Re-administer DEI survey to measure progress and share updates across the organization.
  5. Embed DEI into all conference subjects and topics.
  6. Provide guidelines for members for discussing diversity dimensions in events and presentations.
  7. Communicate to lapsed members regarding DEI efforts and progress.
  8. Empanel a DEI Advisory Panel to complete regular pulse surveys about DEI. Compensate participants appropriately.

Increase Diversity within Leadership

  1. Target recruiting to specifically diverse communities.
  2. Ensure diversity in contractor talent.
  3. Conduct implicit bias training and rater training for all staff or leaders who have authority to make selection decisions.
  4. Review job descriptions and attribute less weight to tenure in career, degrees achieved, years of education, and years of experience, and prioritize knowledge, skills, and ability to do the job.
  5. Implement succession planning for leadership roles. Include diverse pipeline development in process. Develop leadership development program to support succession planning.
  6. Reevaluate leader selection process and criteria; implement processes to increase transparency regarding selection.

Address Barriers to Entry

  1. Increase awareness of genetic counseling career paths through early outreach and community service programs to diverse audiences.
  2. Develop and leverage partnerships with ABGC and ACGC to address potential bias in credentialing and certification exams, as well as promote DEI in training programs.
  3. Provide scholarship opportunities and grants to offset financial barriers. Do not prescribe what funding can be used for.
  4. Provide no cost options for continuing education units, including some free courses or CEUs for participation in outreach efforts or other DEI-related work.
  5. Implement a mentorship program and standardized process to capture and measure mentorship program information. Both mentor and mentee demographic information should be captured and documented, along with all program guidelines, progress, and results.
  6. Develop toolkits and resources for members to use to help recruit, support minoritized communities, and contribute to anti-racist work in NSGC and in the field.

Promote Celebration over Tolerance

  1. Highlight diversity representation while avoiding tokenism.
  2. Allow for the creation of SIGs and member resource groups related to personal identity.
  3. Implement ongoing DEI Dialogues to foster conversations and connections across the organization and to keep DEI top of mind.
  4. Develop a calendar of cultural celebrations. This may include themed events and learning opportunities to promote a message of inclusion and an emphasis on the value of various diversity dimensions.

Provide DEI Training and Resources

  1. Develop and offer DEI-related training for members, DEI-related CEU’s, and low-cost or free DEI resources for members.
  2. Provide DEI training to all current and future NSGC leaders.
  3. Partner with ABGC to add DEI related CEU requirements, as other fields have done.
  4. Develop tools for members to apply to their work such as pronoun guides.
  5. Incorporate DEI into marketing and membership materials, such as representing different diversity dimensions in presentations and on the website.
  6. Train leaders to role model accountability in language and addressing inappropriate or insensitive comments and behavior.
  7. Partner with MGPN to develop and provide shared resources to advance DEI in the profession.
  8. Provide ongoing professional development and resources to SIG leaders.

The Exeter Group has recommended prioritizing the following six steps:

  • Establish a DEI Taskforce for Action Planning
  • Develop organization-wide definitions of diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Develop the DEI Strategic Action Plan
  • Communicate the DEI Strategic Action Plan
  • Identify a DEI Program Lead
  • Invest in Pipeline Development

Frequently Asked Questions

Click here to view freqently asked questions about NSGC's J.E.D.I. initative.

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