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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Listen Up

Leadership Continues Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility

A screenshot of NIH leaders listening in.

From the listening session with the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community

More than 400 NIH employees have shared their perspectives in the first 2 Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) Listening Sessions, bringing their voices to the attention of senior leaders committed to strengthening the workforce by promoting DEIA. The next session—scheduled for Friday, Sept. 9 from 11 a.m. to noon ET—in the seven-part series will hear from people with disabilities.

The senior leadership panel consists of Dr. Lawrence Tabak, performing the duties of NIH director; Dr. Tara Schwetz, acting NIH principal deputy director; Kevin Williams, director, Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI); Dr. Marie Bernard, chief officer for scientific workforce diversity; and Julie Broussard Berko, chief people officer. Sessions are moderated by James Hopkins, EDI’s new equal employment opportunity mediator and alternative dispute resolution program manager. 

The sessions are a direct response to more than 4,000 employees who engaged in the DEIA Town Hall held In June. The panel has received listening session feedback from both the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community (July 22) and Black/African-American community (Aug. 3). Remaining special emphasis populations will be addressed through fall 2022.  

Opening the first session, Tabak encouraged participants’ candor to help leaders understand the challenges and recommendations of respective communities. 

Listening to the seven communities follows development of NIH DEIA policies and initiatives set in motion by civil unrest, the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on underserved communities across the United States and several White House equity executive orders. 

The series of sessions is intended to provide a safe space for members of each population and their allies to share insights.

“Many of you have already shown bravery in stepping up and sharing your thoughts with us and we thank you for doing so,” said Williams. “I look forward to going to the drawing board with the rest of the leadership team here at NIH and spending time with your insights so we can brainstorm, plan and execute a collective vision toward enhancing diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in practice. NIH’s senior leaders are committed to ensuring all populations at NIH are able to reach their full potential. For NIH to tap into the rich and full diversity of the United States, everyone must be treated in a just and fair manner with equitable access to opportunities.” 

All sessions will be available through EDI’s Employee Listening Session Portal: (must be signed into VPN to access).

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