In an evolving workplace, recognizing the significance of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) is crucial for The Neuro to thrive

Charlotte Biché, EDI Officer, delves into The Neuro’s commitment to improving the working environment through EDI, exploring the challenges, initiatives, and opportunities that pave the way for positive change and empowerment within The Neuro.

What does EDI mean to you and what role does it play in improving The Neuro’s working environment? 

I think EDI is about educating ourselves and understanding how socio-cultural factors impact and influence our work. It’s about recognizing the value and necessity in having diverse perspectives at the table when making important decisions, doing science, and directing care. Without diverse perspectives we cannot truly conduct impactful science or serve patients to the best of our ability. Any institution that truly wants to be on the cutting edge must understand this.

To me, EDI is about social justice and community building. At The Neuro, I think this means that everyone who works here should feel like they belong here, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, ability, or other socio-cultural factors. It means equal and equitable opportunity, and valuing and promoting diversity around us, at a larger community level as well as on an individual and interpersonal level. I think it’s integral that we are transparent in our action and dedication to implementing policies that promote EDI and really seeing the work through as opposed to merely virtue signaling or saying things without the intention of truly acting to facilitate change.

What are some of the initiatives that you and the EDI committee plan to undertake to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion within The Neuro community? 

Right now, I’m focused on writing the Five-Year EDI Action Plan. The Plan is based on the identified needs and recommendations from the survey and focus groups, as well as conversations about needs and areas of improvement that I and other EDI Committee members have had with The Neuro community. I’m really excited about it because it’s the next milestone to implementing real and concrete change, and I look forward to feedback from the community and seeing where we can do more, what’s working, and what’s not. The Action Plan will be a living document, which means we will be able to adapt as we identify new needs and areas that need attention in the future.

We’re also working on a Health Equity Seminar Series which will be a great opportunity to engage both the hospital and the institute. The aim of the series is to host speakers from various backgrounds who are familiar with health equity issues, such as the historical experiences of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people within the Canadian healthcare system, or present-day health equity issues. I’m looking forward to hearing from speakers who are experts and becoming better informed about health equity and taking that information into account when developing policies for The Neuro.

What kind of challenges and opportunities do you see for an organization such as The Neuro with regards to improving EDI? 

I think people are really excited by EDI advancements at The Neuro. I see that as a huge opportunity, because it means that people want to engage with me and hear about equity, diversity, and inclusion, and how we can all be drivers of positive change within our work environments. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback about the EDI survey which was presented to the community in June of 2022. Additionally, we conducted five focus groups in January 2023 and heard how appreciative people are about the effort to make The Neuro a more inclusive place, which is awesome not only because of people’s interest but also because it shows that we’re on the right path to making concrete changes based on those results. This is exciting and motivating for me – having the opportunity to talk to new people, understand their perspective and see how I can be a resource for them.

However, we still have challenges. There are still plenty of individuals at The Neuro who are totally unaware of the fact that we conducted a survey or focus groups, and there are individuals who aren’t familiar with EDI goals or EDI’s relevance to The Neuro. I think it’s important to be able to see where people are at and explain EDI in a way that makes sense to them and proves relevant to their daily life. We need to show people how EDI can help them improve patient care and conduct better science, so that they can truly see its value.