Veterinary diversity organizations call on AVMA to act against racism

July 23, 2020
dvm360 Staff

More than 1,600 people have signed a petition demanding that the AVMA address systemic racism throughout the veterinary profession.

Ten veterinary organizations dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion in the profession are asking like-minded individuals to sign an online petition in advance of the organizations’ meeting with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Board of Directors and senior staff this weekend. The meeting’s goal is to discuss actions AVMA can and should take immediately to address systemic racism in the profession.

“Veterinary medicine’s ongoing lack of diversity, equity, and inclusivity has been discussed ad nauseum over the last few decades,” the organizations’ letter to AVMA states. The letter also notes that the AVMA 20/20 Vision Commission’s report — published in 2011 — identified three key actions related to diversity and inclusion that AVMA has yet to deliver on:

  • Reflect the changing demographic, ethnic, and generational differences of society and actively engage more women in leadership roles.
  • Govern, operate, and make decisions and policies in a transparent, inclusive, and more democratized manner.
  • Create a special culture that is collaborative, customer-focused, forward-leaning, innovative, nimble, and inclusive.

Led by the MCVMA, the 10 organizations have outlined in detail several specific actions they would like AVMA to take with regard to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in the profession:

  • Self-assessment: Explain where the AVMA currently stands in relation to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Accessibility: Ensure equitable process for all members, regardless of race, to join and grow within AVMA leadership.
  • Accountability and transparency: Implement processes for which AVMA will be held accountable with regard to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
  • Expanding membership: Identify opportunities to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive membership.
  • Organizational commitment: Ensure that AVMA leadership is culturally competent and acting in the best interests of all of its members.
  • Investment: Provide financial and structural commitments to improve the state of diversity, equity, and inclusion in veterinary medicine.
  • Outreach and engagement: Advance lasting diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives between veterinary partners at the AVMA, state veterinary medical associations, constituent allied veterinary organizations, academic institutions, veterinary practices, and associates.

MCVMA president Christina Tran, DVM, associate professor and clinical relations lead veterinarian at University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine, told dvm360, “We are hopeful that Saturday’s meeting will create an ongoing dialogue with AVMA that will lead to transformational and lasting change for the veterinary profession. Systemic racism has no place in veterinary medicine — it is time for us to wake up and make change happen!”

The organizations hope to have 10,000 signatures for the petition by Saturday. Anyone who supports addressing systemic racism in veterinary medicine is invited to sign.To read the letter and sign the petition, click here.