It is with great pleasure that I inform you that the RANZCR Board has taken an important step toward the realisation of a vision to make our College more representative of its broad membership and of the communities we serve as medical professionals.
At its last meeting, the Board ratified a proposal for the establishment of a high-level taskforce to investigate the issues that mitigate against diversity, inclusion and equity within our college and put forward recommendations for their rectification. The Board established this high-level taskforce to advise it on ways to improve the College's policies and processes to address shortcomings in who we recruit to our specialties, the environment within the College for members and employees, the representation of minority groups in the College leadership, and the furtherance of an inclusive culture in the College.
The Taskforce will be chaired by a former RANZCR President, Prof. Liz Kenny AO, a trusted and respected member of our College and a tireless advocate for the interests of our professions. Other members of the taskforce include Dr Sally Ayesa (CR) Prof Alan Coulthard (CR), Dr Gina Hesselberg (RO), Dr Carol Johnson (RO – NZ), Dr Emmeline Lee (CR), A/Prof Glen Lo (CR), Dr Lauren Oakden-Rayner (CR) and Prof Sandra Turner (RO). I should note that the new Taskforce will not directly address those issues relating to indigenous health and trainees—this will remain with the executive committee charged with that responsibility.
These are big issues that go to the heart of who we are and who we want to be in the future. The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce (DEIT) will report directly to the Board on issues such as women in Radiation Oncology & Clinical Radiology, and more contemporary policy issues such as the representation of transgender and gender-diverse people in the membership and their healthcare in the community at large. Some members may argue this is not core business for the College. I beg to differ. By acknowledging existing deficiencies and rectifying them, we will evolve into a better and more inclusive organisation.
A glaring deficiency at present is the number of women participating in the College hierarchy, especially at the upper levels. Currently, RANZCR has just one woman board director on a board of eight, which clearly falls short when compared with the proportion of women in our membership or with the proportion of women graduating from medical schools. While we can discuss at length the extent to which we might practicably attract more women into radiology and radiation oncology, it is obvious that the Board, our supreme decision-making body, does not adequately represent the women or other diverse groups already in our organisation. I say that with no disrespect for the those on the current Board who discharge their onerous responsibilities with skill, compassion and diligence. Will more women on the Board translate into more women radiologists or radiation oncologists? That idea sounds simplistic and naive, but I firmly believe that if we support the participation of women and other diverse groups in our deliberative processes, the College will make better decisions that are more relevant to the cross section of members and ultimately more relevant to our patients. That improvement, along with a myriad of other initiatives, will help to protect the future of our professions.
As some of you know, this is a matter of deep personal significance to me, but I am pleased to observe that many of my colleagues agree with the need for the organisation to involve, support, employ or engage with a broader cross-section of the individuals who seek to participate on our committees, councils and panels, or join the ranks of the College staff. I share my perspective and vision in more detail in Inside News this quarter and encourage you to read the article.
With greater diversity among our office bearers and employees, our hope is to make the organisation a better place: more understanding of each other, more inclusive in our deliberations and in our clinical work, more attuned to the diverse backgrounds and needs of the patients we serve. At the same time, we have a vision of a College that is welcoming, respectful, accountable and committed to fairness in its decision-making, training and communications.
The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce will report its findings later this year. Its recommendations will help the Board decide on the steps to follow. Whatever the outcome, it will go to the heart of who we are and who, as an association of professionals, we want to be.