UNITE Sets Initial Priorities
NIH’s UNITE Initiative, which was established to identify and end structural racism at NIH, released its initial priorities at a Feb. 26 special meeting of the advisory committee to the NIH director (ACD). Consisting of nearly 80 employees representing each of NIH’s 27 institutes and centers, UNITE is set to present an update on progress and priorities at a session of the June ACD meeting.
UNITE has five committees and each committee has focused priorities according to its charge.
The U committee is charged with “Understanding stakeholder experiences through listening and learning.” Priorities for the committee include soliciting feedback from NIH staff and the extramural community via listening sessions and focus groups; conducting qualitative data analysis from feedback received and submitting institute/center data requests to all ICs; and reviewing responses on recent, past, ongoing and upcoming diversity, equity and inclusion activities.
The N committee addresses “New research on health disparities, minority health, and health equity.” The committee’s priorities include proposing a Common Fund Initiative: “Innovations and Transformation in HD/HE Research; empowering IC leaders and project officers with a data dashboard that tracks and provides visualizations of research investments, analyzing and improving business processes from ideation to funding in order to achieve equity, and achieving equitable support for health disparities, minority health and health equity research at NIH to measurably reduce health inequities.
The I committee seeks to “Improve the NIH culture and structure for equity, inclusion and excellence.” Priorities for the committee include revising the NIH Manual chapter on addressing harassment and inappropriate conduct, publishing accessible data on NIH workforce demographics, and establishing an anti-racism steering committee that will assist with developing racial equity plans for each IC.
The T committee is charged with ensuring “Transparency, communication and accountability with our internal and external stakeholders.” The committee’s priorities include developing a webpage with a data dashboard that provides transparent NIH and UNITE data, developing a UNITE toolkit to help ICs communicate EDI efforts and updating the portraiture and art installations throughout NIH’s physical spaces and the agency’s online presence to reflect the diversity of identity and career paths at NIH.
The E committee is focused on the “Extramural Research Ecosystem.” The committee’s priorities include building and sustaining research capacity for fuller participation in modern research enterprise, identifying policies that contribute to inequities in extramural funding, launching programs that spur institutional culture change in support of inclusivity and equity and increasing career opportunities for individuals from diverse groups, including those from underrepresented groups.
To learn more about UNITE and NIH’s efforts to end structural racism, visit https://www.nih.gov/ending-structural-racism.