ACC Health Policy Statement Outlines Strategies to Address Bias, Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

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Successfully addressing bias, discrimination, bullying and harassment in the workplace requires institutional dedication; visible, supportive leadership; and adequate financial resources for implementing effective policies and procedures, according to an ACC Health Policy Statement published March 16 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Uncivil and toxic behavior, including bias, discrimination, bullying and harassment, has been well-documented in medicine and cardiology. An ACC survey published last year found over one-third of resident doctors and faculty reported experiencing bias, discrimination, bullying and harassment at their main place of work and the behaviors were more commonly reported as directed toward women and racial/ethnic minorities.

The ACC Health Policy Statement aims to address these behaviors by outlining operational and individual strategies aimed at helping to eliminate bias, discrimination, bullying and harassment. Among the recommendations:

  • Establishing confidential and fair mechanisms for reporting and investigating individuals and/or departments suspected or accused of bias, discrimination, bullying and harassment.
  • Creating institutional resources to ensure that hiring decisions and performance evaluations are objective.
  • Adopting metrics supported by data collection to track progress and inform future plans.
  • Embracing independent evaluation of culture and the effectiveness of efforts to reduce uncivil behavior.
  • Recognizing champions and leaders who promote and model excellence in these areas.

"This document is not merely a position statement, but it is a call-to-action that articulates solutions and provides resources and tools for individuals, organizations and professional societies who wish to address the widespread problem of bias, discrimination, bullying and harassment in cardiology," said Pamela S. Douglas, MD, MACC, co-chair of the health policy statement. "The ramifications of not tackling these issues cannot be ignored, as uncivil behavior impacts employee retention, well-being, and has potentially high costs for the institution or practice."

In addition to outlining general recommendations for building respect, civility and inclusion, the Health Policy Statement offers specific guidance and frameworks for developing institutional policies; confidential reporting systems; unbiased and objective hiring strategies; and education and training programs. The authors also discuss the unique roles of medical societies, including the ACC, in helping to address behaviors and move towards building a sense of belonging within the cardiovascular community.

"In order to implement meaningful, successful approaches to addressing bias, discrimination, bullying and harassment, each initiative must be tailored to individual and institutional needs," said Michael J. Mack, MD, MACC, co-chair of the health policy statement. "Medical and professional societies have a unique role in setting standards of excellence and acting as influencers to drive change in building safe and healthy work cultures."

Attending ACC.22? Don't miss The State of Cardiovascular Workforce: Global Insights and Solutions on Discrimination, Harassment, and Racism session taking place Saturday, April 2 at 4:15 p.m. ET in room 145B. Also, don't miss the ACC Diversity and Inclusion Town Hall taking place on Friday, April 1 from 5 – 7 p.m. ET, at the Marriott Marquis, Washington, DC. Visit to learn more about these and other related sessions and events taking place over the course of the meeting.

Clinical Topics: Cardiovascular Care Team

Keywords: Social Responsibility, Behavior, Sexism, Homophobia, Prejudice, Racism, Weight Prejudice, Bullying, Coercion, Culture, Education, Medical, Health Equity, Health Policy, Incivility, Respect, Safety, Education, Medical, Graduate, Education, Medical, Continuing, Education, Medical, Undergraduate, Education, Education, Professional, Teaching, Workplace

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