Diversity and Inclusion Task Force Action Plan

In April 2020, the Board of Directors approved this Action Plan and a phased implementation of the listed activities over the next three to five years in support of the Strategic Plan. The activities will be reviewed by the Board for funding on an annual basis.

Strategic Issue:

ASHG envisions a world in which people everywhere realize the benefits of genetics and genomics research and seeks to advance understanding and appreciation of that research to advance science, health and society. Diversity, equity, and inclusion in genetics and genomics research is a scientific and community imperative.

Desired Outcomes:

  • Scientists view ASHG as an inclusive, welcoming, and learning community where they can bring their full selves and engage and develop as scientific leaders free from discrimination or unprofessional conduct.
  • ASHG members better understand their own biases, improve self-awareness, and become more skilled at supporting diversity, inclusion, and belonging through their actions.
  • ASHG members and leaders better reflect the diversity of the populations they serve.
  • Public audiences especially those from diverse backgrounds are more aware and better understand genetics and genomics and its relevance to their lives.
  • Individuals from diverse backgrounds increase their participation in genetics and genomics research studies.

Guiding Principles:

  • ASHG will celebrate genetic diversity, one of humanity’s greatest strengths, as a foundation for scientific discovery that benefits health and society.
  • ASHG must develop strong collaborations across academia, industry, and government to best address disparities in diversity and inclusion in the workforce and research populations.
  • ASHG will ensure that advocacy efforts highlight the importance of scientific discoveries to benefit all communities.
  • Based on historic faults, communities that are underrepresented in science have legitimate and understandable reason for reluctance to participate in research.  Reflecting this, the community must learn about this history, address strategies for building and maintaining trust, and build their skills to engage with diverse populations.

Action Plan:

  1. Year-round Programming

    1. Provide welcoming career resources to all genetic and genomic career fields -Demonstrate diverse career fields to scientific and educational communities through development of a career resources toolkit that recognizes and includes diverse career stages (e.g., student, postdoc, early-career) and career paths (e.g., academia, industry, government). Content can be curated from existing Human Genetics Scholars Initiative career development webinars and reputable websites and new digital ASHG sources from podcasts/video interviews and webinars. (CDC)
    2. Provide mentorship training – Provide online training on Implicit Bias and Mentoring Across Cultures and additional resources to guide mentor and mentee relationships. Training will provide tips and guidelines on how to recognize our own biases when interacting with individuals in a laboratory, work, academic and/or personal setting and what someone can do to mitigate these biases. (CDC, OPPE)
  2. Member Engagement

    • Offer reduced membership dues for individuals from developing countries – Continue to provide reduced membership dues rates for individuals from developing countries to increase their engagement in and access to the Society and its resources. (FAC, MEC)
    • Highlight and showcase members of diverse backgrounds – Ensure all Society communications and imagery highlight and showcase members from a variety of backgrounds, with particular emphasis on better inclusion of those underrepresented in the field (e.g., geographic, ancestral, sector, etc.). (MEC, PEAC)
    • Attract diverse individuals to the field of genetics and genomics – Create an awareness campaign for undergraduates to learn more about ASHG and the opportunities for them to get involved with emphasis on engaging students from diverse backgrounds and institutions as members. Continue to exhibit and participate in meetings geared toward minority audiences such as ABRCMS and SACNAS. (MEC)
    • Provide guidelines to help researchers understand how to propose research that includes diverse populations – Develop principles to help researchers recruit and engage underrepresented groups and international populations for research. Help researchers understand how to not misuse data to avoid harm to different groups. (PPSI)
  3. Diversity

    • Launch and sustain programs that support diverse early-career scientists – Develop and sustain programs, such as the Human Genetics Scholars Initiative and the MOSAIC Genetics and Genomics Faculty Development Program, that empower diverse, underrepresented early-career scientists for success in genetics and genomics through professional education, mentoring, and important financial resources. (DITF)
    • Identify and begin to address systemic barriers to workforce diversity and inclusion – Create an alliance of scientific membership societies in genetics and genomics to conduct workforce diversity and inclusion climate surveys and produce a report to guide future collaborative diversity and inclusion activities, which might include, for example, field participation in the SEA Change initiative. Continue the institutional forum on workforce diversity and inclusion held during the Annual Meeting.
    • Ensure Society leaders and awardees reflect the diversity of the workforce – Continue to introduce special efforts to encourage Board, committee, and award nominations of outstanding scientists who reflect the diverse geography, gender, ancestry, and scientific disciplines and specialties of ASHG members. Begin to name awards after diverse leaders. (NC, AC)
  4. Public Awareness
    • Messaging to communicate with underserved communities about the benefits of genetics and genomics research – Develop resources and a messaging campaign with an emphasis on communicating with underserved communities, especially addressing privacy, confidentiality, and misconceptions. Develop a media outreach strategy that utilizes additional channels to better reach underserved communities. Materials can be developed in different languages. (PEAC)
    • Train members to engage diverse public audiences about genetics and genomics research. Develop toolkits, curricula, and courses/workshops (e.g., high school workshop, undergrad workshop, communications workshop, etc.) to help ASHG members to better communicate and engage with individuals from diverse groups, including students, the general public, and policymakers. (PEAC, GPAC)
    • Highlight and increase opportunities for members to engage more diverse audiences. Partner and volunteer in science education groups that reach more diverse audiences, prioritizing programs like Science Olympiad, Act-So NAACP, etc. (PEAC)
    • Develop or curate public facing content for the Discover Genetics section of the website. Highlight the relevance of genetics research to conditions that disproportionately impact underrepresented groups and the importance of diverse cohorts in genetics research. (PEAC)
    • Advocate for legislative and regulatory efforts that support diversity in science. For example, help foster attention and support policies and funding that help attract and retain underrepresented minority scientists in the workforce and promote participation of diverse cohorts in research studies. (GPAC)
  5. Annual Meeting
    1. Facilitate the participation and engagement of groups from diverse backgrounds in the Annual Meeting. Continue and expand efforts to bring early-career researchers from developing countries to the ASHG Annual Meeting. Pursue strategies to bring more U.S. researchers from underrepresented backgrounds to the Annual Meeting, for example, through a Minority-Serving Institution Travel Award. Continue efforts to engage diverse individuals during the meeting through events such as the Diversity Luncheon and Diversity Reception. (PC, MEC, CDC)
    2. Encourage scientific and career development sessions that reflect diverse topics, speakers, and moderators. Request that Annual Meeting invited session/workshop proposals and digital programs proposals (e.g., webinars, audio stories, virtual meeting sessions, etc.) address the diversity of chosen topics and speakers based on geography, gender, ancestry, career stage, scientific disciplines and specialties, and the inclusion of diverse research cohorts. (PC, OPPE, CDC)
  6. Scientific Publishing
    Editors of both journals are enthusiastic about diversity and inclusion efforts.

    1. American Journal of Human Genetics
    2. Human Genetics and Genomics Advances


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