Published 12/1/2018
Jennifer M. Weiss, MD

AAOS Doubles Down Against Discrimination and Harassment

New and updated policies, a social media campaign, and diversity-focused content workgroup highlight recent activity

On the pages surrounding this column, you will find the Academy’s new Anti-discrimination and Anti-harassment Policy and Procedures and the updated AAOS Opinion on Ethics and Professionalism: Sexual Harassment.

They are two very powerful documents, to say the least. The anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy and procedures document was an internal initiative that started within the AAOS Board of Directors but was ultimately a collaborative effort that included many volunteer leaders as well as the Ruth Jackson Society. The opinion statement, which comes from the AAOS Committee on Ethics and Outside Interests, was originally released in 1993 and updated several times over the years. The most recent iteration was released in July.

The policy and procedures, in particular, are far reaching and apply to all in-person and virtual AAOS activities. The bold intent to protect all space within and surrounding AAOS activities is appropriate and timely, and as a female member of AAOS, it makes me proud. The leadership has spoken: It wants to protect against harassment and discrimination related to gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, disability, age, appearance, or other personal characteristics. The document not only defines unacceptable behavior but also names the ramifications, which range from exclusion from meetings without refund to suspension or expulsion from AAOS membership.

In addition to creating a space where diverse voices may be heard and respected, the Academy is actively taking steps to promote diversity, equality, and inclusion within our specialty. In August, the AAOS Now Editorial Board created a workgroup focused solely on creating additional content that supports diversity, equality, and inclusivity. Julie Samora, MD, PhD, has agreed to lead this group. Additional members include Cordelia Carter, MD; Wayne A. Johnson, MD; Anthony E. Johnson, MD; Lisa K. Cannada, MD; Theodore A. Blaine, MD; Elizabeth Dennis, MD; Alexandra E. Page, MD; Todd S. Kim, MD; and Bonnie Simpson Mason, MD. These leaders in the field of diversity represent a wide range of experience in orthopaedics.

To further enhance this initiative, AAOS launched a multimedia campaign called Faces of Orthopaedics to encourage conversations around diversity, equality, and inclusion in orthopaedics. A key part of the campaign is to drive conversation on social media using the hashtag #FacesofOrthopaedics, with the goal of promoting the diverse orthopaedic population across a wide range of demographics, including but not limited to age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, and ethnic background.

The Faces of Orthopaedics campaign also will be used to raise awareness of AAOS Now articles that support diversity, equality, and inclusion. These articles will be promoted throughout the campaign to drive additional web traffic to www.aaos.org, promote AAOS Now, and raise awareness and publicize the efforts of AAOS members and the leadership team to address diversity and inclusion issues.

The Academy relies on feedback from its members to remain relevant and effective. As we begin the era of fostering diversity and inclusion in orthopaedics, we ask that you, our members, engage with us. For example, we want to know the challenges our female surgeons and surgeons of color face. Are there topics AAOS Now should present or issues the Academy has not explored? Join the conversation on social media by using the #FacesofOrthopaedics hashtag. Post a photo or video of yourself with a unique caption describing why diversity is important in orthopaedics and what makes you diverse. Tag a colleague who you want to participate in the campaign to keep the conversation going. Members who are not on social media can email AAOS staff at communications@aaos.org for an opportunity to have their photos and commentaries published.

Diversity and inclusion are good for our patients and for us. We want to support and encourage acceptable behavior guidelines and formally recognize and promote diversity and inclusion. I am excited to see the tide of change begin in orthopaedic surgery and AAOS.

Jennifer M. Weiss, MD, is chair of the AAOS Communications Cabinet. Connect with Dr. Weiss on Twitter and Instagram @mymomthesurgeon.