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Diversity Catalysts


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 Scientific Workforce Diversity (SWD) at early stages of diversity/inclusion strategy development
  • Provide assistance in tailoring diversity/inclusion initiatives to specific IC cultures
  • Facilitate implementation and evaluation of evidence-based diversity/inclusion strategies within and across ICs

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

SWD implemented pilot projects based on the recommendations of the subcommittees and developed the SWD 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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