From the Board of Directors

August 2022

The topics of equity, diversity, and inclusion have been studied, discussed, and debated countless times throughout our country’s history. In recent years, a dizzying number of painful events have resulted in public outcry from all angles, both demanding and resisting change. It is without question that our response to the era that we are living in will define the future of our country. The PVMA Board of Directors recognizes that the veterinary field does not exist in isolation from experiences of injustice or the societal transformations that oftentimes follow. Rather than upholding antiquated policies and practices, this moment calls for our active involvement in helping to educate and empower our community so that we all feel equipped to contribute and share our voices. A different, more just, and more radiant future is possible.  

The PVMA Board of Directors worked closely with local social equity strategist and consultant Ruby Joy White to co-create the foundation of our very own action plan. The PVMA Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Action Plan has been reviewed by leaders and colleagues within the profession as well as the community more broadly. The purpose of PVMA’s EDI Action Plan is multifaceted, but at its heart, it is a means of centering all of our content, activities, and programs through the lens of equity, diversity, and inclusion in order to promote a thriving and inclusive professional organization. We hope our work and dedication to the matter will solely continue to expand from here and may even inspire other veterinary organizations to do the same. The PVMA Board looks forward to supporting other veterinary organizations that would like to pursue EDI goals. 

If you would like more information or are interested in becoming involved with our EDI work, you can reach us at: pvma@portlandvma.org

First Goal: Value Statement and Accountability

PVMA recognizes the existence and impact of systemic racism, marginalization, discrimination, and bias in our profession and community.  We acknowledge that our profession does not always welcome or serve traditionally-marginalized groups and identities. Bias and discrimination are harmful and limit our profession’s ability to support animal health meaningfully, the human-animal bond, and the One Health initiative*.

*One Health (formerly called One Medicine) is dedicated to improving the lives of all species—human and animal—through the integration of human medicine, veterinary medicine, and environmental science.

PVMA believes that change and growth are possible and must be pursued regardless of our individual upbringing and lived experiences. We believe that a more culturally competent and accessible veterinary community will better serve everyone.  In order to provide equitable and inclusive care within our profession and to our community, we must enact meaningful change.  PVMA accepts that our organizational and professional responsibility is to prioritize equity, inclusivity, and justice. This will be accomplished by integrating EDI-focused work into our organizational programming, educational resources, discussion and collaboration opportunities, and thoughtful community partnerships selection.

The PVMA strives to create a membership base where our EDI goals are widely held and advanced by members and where veterinary professionals and community members of all identities feel safe. The PVMA will exercise a zero-tolerance policy for any discriminatory behavior or action from any member that conflicts with our membership code of conduct.

PVMA holds itself accountable for critically assessing the outcome of its EDI strategy through a combination of internal board review, membership feedback, and community observation.

Second Goal: Naming the Inequities

PVMA recognizes there are multifaceted inequities and deficiencies in representation within all levels of our profession, the community we serve, and all of our animal welfare and industry partners.

Inadequate diversity is present within all levels of our profession, including:

  • Students and potential students interested in our field;
  • Veterinarians;
  • Veterinary team members;
  • Clients;
  • Our greater community, including those who are unable to access or choose to forgo care; and
  • Industry partners, Board of Directors, Corporate Executives, and Investors.

Inequities that have been identified:

  • Transportation/Access to and from veterinary care and resources;
  • Ability to pursue basic and advanced veterinary care financially;
  • Ability to receive recommendations and services without prejudice and implicit bias;
  • Lack of diverse representation; and
  • Recognition and acceptance of gender identity beyond the binary.

The PVMA aims to make progress holistically as a community leader to alleviate barriers for the folks most affected by the inequities. We will advocate for diverse voices wherever decisions are being made.

Third Goal: Intentionality, Listening, and Co-creation

PVMA believes we are all “works in progress,” learning takes time, and listening, not just hearing, is paramount. We feel our profession’s path forward involves acknowledging our own deficiencies, listening to the variety of community voices, and understanding that community members and organizations best understand the specific needs of the groups they serve. PVMA will engage with membership and community partners to identify and prioritize existing inequities around the provision of veterinary care and to co-create solutions that better serve everyone.

PVMA supports improved logistical and financial access to veterinary care regardless of socioeconomic status; strongly advocates for clients receiving recommendations and services without any prejudice or implicit bias; insists that underserved community members’ voices are being heard wherever decisions are being made, and unequivocally endorses Pride Veterinary Medical Community’s Gender Identity Bill of Rights (GIBOR).

Fourth Goal: Cultural awareness, Competency, and Responsiveness

PVMA commits to producing content through the lens of EDI to develop and enhance cultural awareness, competency & responsiveness. This will be reflected in our continuing education, set educational programs, and an up-to-date resource library.

PVMA advocates for a culturally responsive community to the ever-changing climate of the veterinary profession. We will continually assess and adapt our actions and programs to support our EDI goals. Regular assessment of the success of program implementation will be conducted, goals will be revised and adapted, and external evaluation with our community advisory board will be sought.

Our Community Agreements

The PVMA is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, age, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, parental status, marital status, and political affiliation, as well as gender expression, mental illness, socioeconomic status or background, neuro(a)typicality, or physical appearance. We are united by PVMA’s values and celebrate our unique differences.

This set of agreements exists not because misconduct is expected or anticipated, but because we believe in the exceptional level of respect that already exists within the organization. We believe that articulating our values and accountabilities to one another reinforces that respect and provides us with clear avenues to correct our culture should it ever stray. We commit to enforcing and updating these as necessary.

These concepts encourage members to work to apply to their daily lives in and outside of the PVMA. Specifically, these agreements apply to member interactions in various areas of our shared professional lives, including all events hosted by the PVMA, shared online spaces, and other events where we represent the veterinary profession.

PVMA Member Community Agreements

Goal:
To establish a set of principles and practices of the PVMA that will provide guidance and direction for professional and personal conduct.

Agreement:
Members of the PVMA are committed to observing and promoting the highest standards of ethical conduct in the participation of this professional membership organization. Members pledge to accept these agreements as minimum guidelines for ethical conduct and shall review and understand the following.  

Community Principles
Every member of the PVMA is expected to be considerate of their colleagues and contribute to a collaborative, positive, and healthy environment in which we can all succeed. Specifically:

  • Be supportive of your colleagues, both proactively and responsively. Offer to help if you see someone struggling or in need of assistance (taking care not to be patronizing or disrespectful). If someone approaches you looking for assistance, be generous with your time or help direct them to someone else who may be of assistance.
  • Be inclusive: Go out of your way and across cultures to include people in conversations; we want to build an environment free of cliques. Avoid slang or idioms that might not translate across cultures, or be deliberate in explaining them to share our diverse cultures and languages. Speak plainly and avoid acronyms and jargon that not everyone may understand. Be an ally to a colleague when you see a need.  When introducing yourself to someone, offer your pronouns and do your best to remember and use the proper pronouns for others. 
  • Be collaborative. Involve your colleagues in group activities. Don’t succumb to either impostor syndrome (believing you don’t deserve to be here) or the Dunning-Kruger Effect (thinking you can do no wrong).
  • Be generous in both giving and accepting feedback. Feedback is a natural and essential part of our culture. Good feedback is kind, respectful, straightforward, constructive, and focused on goals and values rather than personal preferences. You are expected to give and receive feedback with gratitude and a growth mindset. Recognize that in addition to asking for feedback, you are similarly obligated to give it.
  • Be kind. Be polite and friendly in all forms of communication – especially remote communication, where opportunities for misunderstanding are greater. Avoid sarcasm. Tone is hard to decipher online.

Collective Commitment
The PVMA is committed to providing a welcoming and safe environment for all. Discrimination and harassment are expressly prohibited. Furthermore, any unwelcoming behavior or language—whether or not it rises to the level of harassment—is also strongly discouraged.

Additionally, there are a host of behaviors and language common in the veterinary field which are worth noting as specifically unwelcome:

  • Understand if a colleague isn’t familiar with something: At the PVMA, we believe in the value of a beginner’s mind. It’s always acceptable to say “I don’t know” or “I don’t understand.” All questions are great questions! Avoid expressions of surprise when people aren’t familiar with a disease, concept, medication, treatment, person, place, or process. This applies to both technical things (“What?! I can’t believe you don’t know what the __ is!”) and non-technical things (“You don’t know who __ is?!”).
  • Consider exclusionary language: Be careful in the words that you choose, even if it’s as small as choosing “hey, everyone” over “hey, guys.” Sexist, racist, ableist, and other exclusionary jokes are inappropriate and will not be tolerated under any circumstance.  PVMA understands that what constitutes exclusionary language is constantly changing; therefore, if the language is used unintentionally and pointed out, be respectful, correct the error and continue on.
  • Be aware of microaggressions and gaslighting: Much exclusionary behavior takes the form of microaggressions or “subtle-isms”– small things that make others feel unwelcome. For example, saying “It’s so easy my grandmother could do it” is a subtle -ism with tones of both sexism and ageism. Regardless of intent, these comments can negatively impact teammates. If you see a subtle -ism, you can point it out to the relevant person, publicly or privately, or ask a board member to say something.

Gaslighting is the use of manipulative language that makes another question their reality or the validity of their thoughts and feelings. It includes comments like “What I said wasn’t sexist!” or “That’s not what they meant. You’re being too sensitive.” Similarly, avoid  “piling on” someone who made a mistake. It’s okay to mess up – just apologize and move on.

Reporting a problem
These guidelines are ambitious, and we’re not always going to succeed in meeting them. When something goes wrong—whether it’s a microaggression or an instance of harassment—you can do several things to ensure the situation is addressed.

  1. Recommended: Talk to a board director or officer. We take concerns seriously. We are here for you to discuss the problem, and we will figure out what steps to take next. You can make a report either personally or anonymously. We’re keen to hear concerns about situations of any size and magnitude. In all cases, we will make every effort to stay in clear communication with anyone who reports a problem, maintaining confidentiality as much as possible.
  2. Address it directly. For more minor incidents that might be settled with a brief conversation, you can choose to discuss with the other party how it affected you directly. Please use this approach only if you feel comfortable; you do not have to carry the weight of addressing these issues yourself. If you’re interested in this option but unsure how to go about it, try discussing it with the PVMA board of directors first—they will have advice on making the conversation happen and can join you in a conversation.
September 2020

A Message from the PVMA Board of Directors

September 2020

“The only constant in life is change.” 2020 has exemplified that in many ways. We have all had to adapt to change in the world around us, but we have also been asked to look for change within ourselves. As it turns out, many of these changes are long overdue.

Let us recognize the privilege that we may have, against the struggles that others have had to overcome. Let us not pretend to all be the same, but rather embrace that our differences make us stronger and more interesting. Let us be wise with our words – not out of fear for retaliation, but out of understanding that our words matter. Most importantly, let us reject discriminatory language and acts against others – be it for race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or any other individual characteristic.

Maybe it feels like this doesn’t need to be said, but as many of us look out at the world today, it turns out it does. The PVMA was founded as a way to build and support our veterinary community – a community filled with people of many diverse backgrounds. We would like to take this opportunity to remind all of our members of the PVMA Code of Conduct, agreed to by every member upon joining and renewing membership with the PVMA.

  • To act honestly, fairly, ethically and with integrity
  • To conduct themselves in a professional and respectful manner
  • To comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulations
  • To emulate our core values of professionalism, commitment, integrity, service, advocacy, progressive thinking, compassion, stewardship, transparency and exclusivity.
July 2020

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re probably white.

And chances are, the majority of the folks who work at your hospital, or share your office, or sit on your organization’s board of directors, are white too.

In this pandemic era, I’ve enjoyed logging on to our PVMA Zoom-based webinars and seeing a collection of faces that I know represent multiple generations, gender identities, sexual orientations, educational backgrounds, particular interests and passions … with a pet or three lurking in the background. Our community is a positive and powerful one for so many reasons, but racial diversity isn’t one of them. Veterinary medicine is one of the whitest professions around. It’s estimated that 93% of veterinarians are white, and Black veterinarians comprise only about 2% of the total.

The factors that led us here – systems of racial oppression and injustice – are deeply ingrained in our society and subsequently our profession. It’s some of these very same factors that led to the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others.

We cannot expect equity in our profession if there is not equity every step of the way up. We cannot expect to dramatically change the racial makeup of our profession so long as Black mothers die more frequently in childbirth, so long as Black children don’t have access to quality preschool, so long as Black teenagers don’t grow up in safe communities.

I have heard from many of you who are now doing the work of rooting out old biases, examining yourself for covert prejudices, and bringing your own internal racism to light. This is by necessity painful work, and the PVMA supports our members in doing it.

The power of this moment is that we don’t need to wait for anyone else to take the lead to effect change. We can do it ourselves. We don’t need to wait for our corporate leadership to issue a statement on diversity and inclusion. We don’t need to wait for our hospital management to draft a protocol on how to address racist comments in the workplace. These things are important, but WE make the change by first changing ourselves, and then reflecting that change outward. This will look differently for different people. But the onus
is on all of us to help make this profession more attainable for our future Black colleagues.

In closing, I’d like to highlight two organizations who are advocating for Black veterinary professionals: BlackDVM Network (www.blackdvmnetwork.com) and the National Association for Black Veterinarians (nabvonline.org). These organizations offer tangible ways of supporting our Black colleagues, and I encourage PVMA members to listen to the stories veterinarians and vet students share at @blackdvmnetwork on Instagram and on their website.

The PVMA board is aiming to keep our eyes and hearts wide open right now. Black veterinarians matter. Black vet students and technicians and assistants matter. Black clients matter. Black lives matter.

I UNDERSTAND THAT I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND. BUT I STAND.

By Dr. Cindy Galbreath, PVMA Board Director

PrideVMC Gender Identity Bill of Rights

https://pridevmc.org/gibor/

March 2022

For most of us, if not all of us, being a part of the veterinary community is something we take extreme pride in.  While we face many issues as a profession, some unique and some not, we often come to ask ourselves: “what more can we do for those around me?”  Chances are you have worked with, or currently, work with folks who identify as a gender other than one that was assigned to them.  It brings me great joy to be able to share a workspace with such courageous individuals who find comfort and safety among our patients and colleagues.  Whether you realize it or not, these brave folks are all around us, they are making your morning latte, educating your children, providing healthcare to your loved ones, and serving in our armed forces.

While it may seem that having LGBTQ+ folks in our profession is a rather recent occurrence, our pride history stretches back over 40 years and is strongly intertwined with the pride history of our country.

An excerpt from the Pride VMC website:

[In the year 1977, eight years following the world-renowned Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, New York several gay veterinarians met at a dinner party during the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) convention in Atlanta. Did they ponder how many other veterinarians, like themselves, were out there? To discover the answer, Drs. Jeffery Collins and Herman Westmoreland courageously placed an ad in The Advocate, the national gay magazine, announcing the first gathering of the Association for Gay Veterinarians (AG Vets) to be held in Las Vegas during the 1978 AVMA convention.]

Despite our profession’s best intentions and efforts, discrimination against our friends in the LGBTQ+ community is still a ubiquitous occurrence.  The PVMA Board of Directors celebrates diversity and is grateful to everyone, especially those brave folks who proudly or privately identify as an individual of their truest self.  The PVMA board of directors is thrilled to announce our endorsement for Pride VMC’s Gender Identity Bill of Rights.   The Gender Identity Bill of Rights (GIBOR) is a minimum foundation to identify and eliminate discriminatory practices against transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals in the veterinary profession including educational and employment environments.  GIBOR states that members of the veterinary profession should have the right to identity, right to names, right to pronouns, right to privacy, freedom of gender expression, freedom from gender affirmation, right to advocacy, right to safety, freedom from explanation, protection from coworker and client discrimination and harassment, and right correct information.  While it goes without saying that our community has been amazingly supportive of all diversity, we want to keep the conversation and momentum going as we unite as a community that is helping to shape the future of our profession and our society.

If you or anyone you know would like to also support GIBOR as an individual, you may go to PrideVMC.org

The PVMA Board of Directors signed their support of GIBOR in November 2021

WakeUpVet Med

https://mcvma.org/wake-up-vet-med

January 2021

PVMA Board of Directors Endorse the WakeUpVetMed Initiative

WAKE UP, VET MED.
Diversity is one of the most critical challenges facing veterinary medicine today. Beyond the indisputable fact that our profession is one of the least racially and ethnically diverse in the nation, it can no longer be ignored that the future relevance of our field hinges upon the growth and development of a workforce that more closely resembles the American population at large.

The veterinary community has discussed and explored the issue of diversity, equity, and inclusion enough. The time for talk is over. The time for decisive, committed action is now.
Stronger. Together.

This initiative was collaboratively developed and supported by:
Association of Asian Veterinary Medical Professionals (AAVMP)
BlackDVM Network
Latinx Veterinary Medical Association (LVMA)
Multicultural Veterinary Medical Association (MCVMA)
National Association for Black Veterinarians (NABV)
Native American Veterinary Association (NAVA)
Pride Veterinary Medical Community (PrideVMC)
Pride Student Veterinary Medical Community (PrideSVMC)
Veterinarians as One for an Inclusive Community for Empowerment (VOICE)
Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative (WVLDI)

Want to help? You can. Right now.

This work will not be easy. But we, as members of the vet med community, are no strangers to very hard work and overwhelming sacrifice. If you are committed to seeing this issue addressed, we welcome you and hope you’ll lend your support by reviewing the recommendations to the AVMA as well as signing the petition below.

Read the letter to the AVMA
Sign the Online Petition
AVMA Actionables
Actionables for Everyone

Resources and Education

Resources for Education and Action

Center for Equity and Inclusion

Diversity Veterinary Medicine Coalition

Journey for Teams

AVMA Diversity and Inclusion

AAVMC Diversity & Inclusion on Air Podcast Series

mypronouns.org

 

Articles about diversity and inclusion:

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