Subcouncil On Diversity And Inclusion: ‘Stronger Together: Embracing Our Differences And Changing The World’
ODA Immediate Past President Dr. Sharon Parsons established the ODA’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion in 2019 and requested that it determine how the ODA may better attract and retain members from various demographic backgrounds. One year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic did not realistically allow the taskforce to develop and initiate significant progress toward its charge, and thus Resolution 08-20 was passed at the 2020 ODA House of Delegates recommending the creation of a Subcouncil on Diversity and Inclusion, as a subcouncil to the ODA’s Council on Membership Services. Upon direction and support of Dr. Eric Gallatin, chair, and members of the Council on Membership Services, the subcouncil was launched and is off and running. I had the pleasure of serving as chair of the taskforce and currently chair of the subcouncil.
Research has determined that strong organizations are comprised of members from various backgrounds and have common goals but reflect different experiences, perspectives and expertise.
Broader diversity is now reflected in our beloved dental profession, including women and ethnically diverse dentists. This has been confirmed through the ADA 2020 year-end report. The Subcouncil has reviewed the findings related to membership and the ODA market share for all minority dentists is 55.7% – the greatest we have seen in looking back four years – and the market share for women dentists is 65.4% (which has seen less than a full percentage point increase) but again – the greatest we have seen in that same time frame.
These growing market segments represent the demographics where ODA market share tends to lag. Given the changing demographics of the profession and ODA’s commitment to diversity and inclusion through its 2019-2020 Strategic Plan, it’s more critical than ever that the ODA evolve on its diversity and inclusion journey. To make progress, we must embrace strategies to advance inclusion, while growing membership diversity. For it is fine to increase our membership with dentists who are diverse, but the real and sustaining element of membership is to work together effectively and assure all voices are heard and respected; diverse viewpoints, perspectives and approaches are valued; and everyone is encouraged to make unique and meaningful contribution.
In tandem with increasing diversity within our ranks, it is paramount that we cultivate a pool of emerging leaders within the organization to again gain diverse perspectives, and capitalize on opportunities to shape the industry and demonstrate the relevance of dentists of diverse backgrounds.
The subcouncil is committed to understand the composition of our membership and build upon it. We will target communications and events that align with respective groups’ needs, interests and concerns.
Look to hear more about the subcouncil and its initiatives and activities. We have pledged to be a visible embodiment of living, doing and advancing the profession and organized dentistry by embracing our differences and changing the world, which we are confident will support our trajectory as leaders and become one of the ODA’s signature hallmarks.