NNS Policy on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The National Neurotrauma Society aims to create an environment within our society, and reflected in our annual meeting and every in person and virtual event related to our society, that is welcoming and supportive for researchers, clinicians and trainees from a wide variety of backgrounds. We work to encourage diversity across all races, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, philosophical and religious beliefs, cultural backgrounds, and languages. Our mission, to promote neurotrauma research by enhancing communication, providing a forum, and increasing support on the national and international level, is enhanced by our commitment to our 4 pillars of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Pillar 1: Enhance diversity and equity within neurotrauma trainees.
Creating a climate of diversity and inclusion begins with our most early career members, and one of the key focuses of our society – trainee development and mentoring in neurotrauma. Key initiatives and achievements within this pillar include:
- Development and enhancement of the Training, Education, and Mentoring Committee (TEAM). Formerly WiNTR (Women in Neurotrauma Research), this committee has expanded to embrace not just the mentoring and development of women in neurotrauma, but all trainees, with a focus on improving and enhancing the ability of NNS to reach out to a broad and diverse workforce within neurotrauma research. https://www.neurotrauma.org/Team
- Introduction and growth of the diversity travel grant. An initiative of TEAM, this travel grant is dedicated to support trainees from an underrepresented group/minority or with a documented disability in their attendance of the annual NNS Symposium. https://www.neurotrauma.org/Diversity-Awards
- WiNTR VISA Award. This TEAM initiative was established to promote international networking opportunities and advance the early careers of women Neurotrauma researchers by providing support for travel to both the annual symposium as well as to a sponsor’s laboratory for initiation of a novel collaboration. https://www.neurotrauma.org/WiNTR-VISA
- Diversity VISA Award. This new approach will be patterned after the WiNTR VISA award, but focused on trainees and early career faculty from underrepresented minorities, as defined by the NIH (https://diversity.nih.gov/about-us/population-underrepresented). An application to NIH to support this initiative is in development.
- Local Scholars Program. Begun with the 2022 NNS Symposium, TEAM works with local Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other local schools to recruit 30 undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds to attend the annual NNS meeting and benefit from focused programming to enhance interest and entrance into the neurotrauma field.
Pillar 2: Encourage diversity and inclusion in leadership.
Modeling a diverse and inclusive society begins with the leadership of that society. As such, NNS strives to encourage diversity and transparency in the leadership positions of the NNS Council. As a result, of the last 35 years of NNS presidency, 43% have been women. Within the current Council, 11% of our councilors are from an underrepresented racial or ethnic minority. Further key initiatives and achievements within this pillar include:
- Development of Diversity Director Position and inclusion as member of Council. https://www.neurotrauma.org/Council
- Development of nomination guidelines to reflect diversity of membership and population. Starting in 2023, our nomination committee is developing new guidelines for the Council and Officer election process, and by 2024 will publish the guidelines, including consideration of diversity, on the NNS website.
Pillar 3: Enhance diversity within the NNS membership.
The current membership of the NNS is 57% male and 43% female, with 55% white, 19% Asian, 3% black, and 23% other races or not noted. Our goal is to achieve a membership that more closely resembles the national population, by increasing representation of women and those from the underrepresented backgrounds. Key initiatives and achievements within this pillar include:
- Membership drives. The NNS Membership committee engages in yearly membership drives to increase membership among those that attend our meetings and pursue neurotrauma research.
- Enhancing outreach to HBCUs. Historically black universities and colleges represent an area of both potential neurotrauma research and future neurotrauma research leaders. Through our Local Scholars Program and future work with an R25 focused on increasing diversity in the neurotrauma work force, NNS will partner with HBCUs to increase neurotrauma research interest in these populations.
- Recognizing and promoting members adhering to or advancing these goals. Future work of the NNS will be establishing a yearly award to recognize members who particularly enhance these goals.
Pillar 4: Support diversity, equity and inclusion in research and patient care.
The mission of NNS is to promote neurotrauma research and patient care, and a major cornerstone of that is supporting diversity within the researchers and clinicians, as well as representation within the patient population. Key initiatives and achievements within this pillar include:
- Advocate for representative patient samples in clinical research studies. The NNS advocacy committee is committed to enhancing our work to promoting appropriate patient population research in the neurotrauma field. Using funds raised during the annual NNS Fun Run, advocacy efforts to raise awareness for patients with neurotrauma across racial, ethnic, sex and gender, and socioeconomic backgrounds are being pursued at the national and local level.
How can you help?
- Seek out and nominate diverse members for all NNS awards, especially those mentioned above.
- Consider acting as a mentor for diverse students and early career scientists, encouraging them to embrace the field of neurotrauma and welcoming them into the NNS community.
- Nominate diverse candidates for NNS leadership positions on Committees, the Council and the Executive Committee.
- Include historically under-represented groups in the research submitted for concurrent presentation at the annual symposium.