This year Swedish created the Office of Health Equity, Diversity & Inclusion combining the brilliant DEI expertise of Mardia Shands with stellar population health and health equity work led by Swedish Health Equity Officer Dr. Nwando Anyaoku. The office has an aggressive and necessary goal of creating Swedish initiatives that dismantle systemic racism, reduce local barriers to health care access and improve health equity. The office offers a unique approach to the implementation of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives within our workplace and assessment and reversal of population health disparities in our community and medical environments. Following is a statement from Mardia as our chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer.
One year ago today, police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd in plain view of many in the Minneapolis community. The video of Floyd’s death was seen around the world and not only led to worldwide mourning but united our voices to speak out against racial injustice and inequality. As we reflect one-year later, I encourage us all to make this is an opportunity to do an examination of ourselves and our organization regarding our commitment to creating a just, equitable, and inclusive environment where we can all thrive.
The death of George Floyd created a ripple in time that caused many of us to pause and look at the brutality of racism square in the face. It caused us to question who we are as a people and as a nation. It caused us to ask ourselves, “are we our brothers and sisters’ keepers?” Across the world the answer was a resounding, yes. We protested together, knelt in silence together, prayed together and we committed to help those who are marginalized and under-represented in our society. That was a year ago.
Moments like today are regular reminders that progress is a continual journey, and we must not get complacent or lose sight of the destination, which is equity and justice for everyone. In that spirit, I invite us to reflect on the following questions: what are steps each of us have taken in the ensuing year to create an anti-racist society and organization? Who have you advocated for because they don’t have the resources and connections? For whom have you spoken on their behalf because they don’t have the access and privilege afforded to you?
The work of creating a just, equitable and inclusive environment where we can all thrive is a great responsibility, and one that is relegated to us all. This is work that we must all intentionally do each day that we live. On this anniversary of George Floyd’s death, I encourage you to reflect on what you and those around you can do to advance the work of promoting anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion.
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