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NIH, Zerhouni Honored for Diversity

NIH recently won a CEO Leadership Award from Diversity Best Practices, an organization that spearheads the annual awards in conjunction with a yearly leadership summit cosponsored by the Business Women's Network. NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni accepted the award, which recognizes NIH's efforts to ensure a diverse medical research workforce. Zerhouni was one of 10 CEOs honored at the 2003 Diversity and Women Leadership Summit on Oct. 15; the 10 leaders were also featured in the September/October issue of Profiles in Diversity Journal. NIH was the only award recipient representing the federal government.

NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni offers remarks.

"I am fully committed to ensuring that NIH maintains its position as the premier biomedical research institution in the country for people of all backgrounds," said Zerhouni, who was born in Algeria. "If we are to uphold our reputation for excellence, each and every employee must work together to make NIH the employer of choice for the best talent in the field."

Diversity Best Practices CEO Leadership Awards recognize business leaders across the country who have proven themselves — and their companies — to be champions for creating inclusive, respectful and diverse organizational cultures.

Janet Smith, president and CEO of Ivy Planning Group and ceremony cochair, presents the Diversity Best Practices Award to Zerhouni, the only leader of a federal agency to receive the honor for 2003. Other companies honored included Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cummins, Eastman Kodak, Eli Lilly & Co., Exelon, Lockheed Martin, Sodexho and Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

"We are pleased to count Dr. Zerhouni among this year's honorees," said Edie Fraser, president of Diversity Best Practices. "His leadership — and that of other senior staff of the NIH — serves as a model not only for other government agencies and organizations, but for the corporate, for-profit sector as well."

Of NIH's nearly 18,000 employees, approximately 35 percent represent ethnic minorities in the U.S., including nearly 20 percent African Americans, more than 12 percent Asian/Pacific Islander Americans and more than 3 percent Hispanic Americans. Additionally, the NIH encompasses more than 1,700 visiting fellows representing countries across the globe — adding to the diverse group of cultures and nationalities contributing to the organization's mission of uncovering new knowledge that will lead to better health for everyone.

Zerhouni, one of 10 CEOs honored at the 2003 Diversity and Women Leadership Summit, participates in the event's roundtable discussion on Oct. 15.

The Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management — part of the Office of the Director — leads NIH-wide policy formulation, implementation, coordination and management of the equal opportunity, civil rights, affirmative employment and workplace diversity programs.

"NIH respects the diversity an individual brings to the workplace and the scientific process," Zerhouni concluded. "We need to continue to train, recruit and retain the best talent in biomedical research because, in the final analysis, it is always the creative spark of the unique individual that leads to new knowledge and real progress, wherever that individual comes from."

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