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Diversity Catalysts

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In Winter 2014, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins and the Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity, Dr. Hannah Valantine, invited NIH senior leadership to nominate representatives from their respective Institutes and Centers (IC) to serve as NIH Diversity Catalysts. This group of 62 individuals met for the first time in February 2015. The Diversity Catalysts began with the help of the San Mateo, California firm Jump Associates, which employs systems thinking that leverages social science and business models. This hybrid approach serves as a novel means to invite innovative, action-oriented thinking.

The Diversity Catalysts:

  • Provide rapid and effective input to Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity (COSWD) Office at early stages of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) strategy development
  • Implement and evaluate evidence-based DEIA strategies through pilot and expanded initiatives, within or across ICs
  • Share effective DEIA initiatives, lessons learned, and related insights with ICs to diffuse best practices across NIH
  • Advise ICs on strategies for tailoring DEIA initiatives to specific IC cultures

Diversity Catalysts do what their name states: these individuals, who have in-depth knowledge of their IC and a deep commitment to DEIA, convene thought and experiences on scientific workforce diversity and then transform that thought into action. Six subcommittees focus on providing input on projects for COSWD Office to pilot.

The COSWD Office implemented pilot projects based on the recommendations of the subcommittees and developed the Scientific Workforce Diversity toolkit based on the successes of those pilots.

Now the Diversity Catalysts have been called upon to adopt three of the tools outlined in the toolkit within their own ICs. Those three tools are: 1) a recruitment search protocol to identify qualified scientific researchers from diverse backgrounds, 2) an implicit-bias education module to create awareness of implicit bias and reduce its impact, and 3) a prototype career-development conference for early-career scientists from diverse backgrounds.


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