Can you share with the Harbor community any general thoughts on Diversity and Inclusion in the profession?
Dr. Welch: As a whole I see the Veterinary Profession as a Diverse and Inclusive profession. It wasn’t until this summer, while hosting two fantastic senior veterinary students from Tuskegee University, that I realized not everyone felt that way. After three weeks of mentoring these two students we had a long talk about their future plans. They both took a long breath and expressed that they were not sure because historically they were not sought after as highly as graduates from other veterinary schools. After fighting back tears I explained to them that they were as good as any students we had hosted from any veterinary school and that their future was bright. I learned as much from these two students from that conversation as they learned from me in three weeks. We have to be willing to listen and get rid of any prejudice, real or perceived.
How do you foster diverse thinking in your practice or within your company?
Dr. Welch: We promote diversity and expect our staff to be inclusive and accepting of everyone.
Dr. Gosche: We talk actively about our core beliefs and have from the beginning. We believe that involving all our team into the process of defining our core values creates an environment where everyone can be held accountable to those values. We strive to foster an environment of continuous learning and our team is free to bring topics of any subject to our morning learning sessions.
How do you create an environment where every voice is welcome, heard and respected?
Dr. Welch: We have an open door with all our staff and we have weekly team meetings so that all issues are discussed openly and frequently.
Dr. Gosche: We actively promote radical candor through which employees are able to bring their whole self to work. Perhaps this also happens during the hiring process where we actively pursue people who will push the status quo and challenge existing paradigms. Sometimes growth is uncomfortable and we search for people who are comfortable being uncomfortable.
How do you let your clients and/or prospective clients know that you have a focus on diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
Dr. Welch: We let the diversity of our staff speak for itself.
Dr. Gosche: Perhaps we could do more in this area, but Google My Business has some interesting tools for letting clients know that they are welcome. We utilize those tools.
Have you done anything specifically within your hospital to foster an environment that includes clients from all communities?
Dr. Welch: We have a very diverse client base. We do our best to make everyone feel welcome and just recently we have started using technology to help us communicate better with non English speaking clients.
Dr. Gosche: We work harder to foster an environment where nobody feels unwelcome rather than trying to pursue specific groups.
What does a healthy culture of diversity and inclusion in the workspace mean to you? (or look like to you?)
Dr. Welch:I tell my team that they are never judged on anything but our Core Values.
Dr. Gosche: We recognize the research that shows diversity is important to the bottom line. By including people with diverse experiences and promoting radical candor and psychological safety we create an environment where ideas pass through a broad range of filters before they reach our customers.
While we all know no one has done it perfectly, what has been a good starting point to begin the conversation about diversity and inclusion?
Dr. Gosche: I think everyone needs to recognize that they don’t know it all, that is ok to disagree professionally, and that we all have room to learn and grow. If everyone comes into the practice with that mindset, it makes it a lot easier to establish a conversation around these topics.
Some wise words here! Listening, co-creating shared values, radical candor, and psychological safety are all critical elements of a culture that honors diversity and inclusion.