As part of the CMA’s ongoing work to foster equity and diversity in its leadership positions, president Dr. Ann Collins hosted a series of member webinars in June on the association’s proposed governance changes.
“If the goal with our advocacy and policy is to promote change, challenge the status quo and call for inclusivity, then it is essential we champion diversity within our own organization,” she says. “The CMA can and should be a leader on this front.”
The proposed changes include shifting to a national election for CMA president, launching a new leadership process led by a Leadership and Diversity Search Committee and building a broader base of candidates for positions on CMA boards and committees.
A mix of physicians, residents and students attended the three sessions, with many expressing strong support for the proposed changes.
“All too often we expect the most diverse to conform to a white, male leadership style and unfortunately this defeats the purpose of having diversity in our leadership,” said Edmonton pathologist Dr. Pauline Alakija. “I personally have met many superb physician leaders who have not been given the opportunity to share their talents because they do not conform to a certain style, look, colour or gender.”
“Diversity is our strength. Let’s use it to make a real material change in our society and change the status quo.” — Shalaka Dixit, medical student and CMA Ambassador
Discussions at the webinars touched on the need for mentorship opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds, strategies for connecting with physician leaders in rural communities, encouraging involvement from physicians at different career stages, and more.
In addition to the webinars, Dr. Collins held similar meetings with provincial and territorial medical associations, and organizations including the Black Physicians’ Association of Ontario, the Canadian Association of Physicians with Disabilities, the Federation of Medical Women of Canada and the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada.
CMA members will have to opportunity to vote on the governance changes at the CMA’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Aug. 22; members must register for the meeting in advance to vote.
Laying the groundwork for equity and diversity
In developing these governance changes, the CMA consulted widely with experts on leading practices in equity, diversity and inclusion, and looked to national professional organizations that are considering similar approaches such as the Canadian Bar Association.
The CMA has also been laying the groundwork to support equity and diversity across the medical profession more broadly. This work has included roundtables with physicians on racism in medicine, the launch of a formal policy to address equity and diversity, and financial support for programming for medical students and physicians from under-represented communities.
In May, the CMA shared its evolving strategy, Impact 2040. The association’s guiding principles of equity and diversity have remained key to this strategy, which aims to reshape health systems and medical culture.