Diversity and Inclusion





ASOHNS Diversity and Inclusion Initiative

Diversity and inclusion in the health workforce leads to better patient outcomes and happier, healthier, more productive surgeons. The initiative is another step in our continuous Improvement  pathway and aims to meet our responsibilities as a professional organisation and as a training provider.  

What is it and how does it work?

The Diversity Council of Australia defines diversity as the mix of people in an organisation and inclusion as getting that mix to work[i].  There are many dimensions to diversity, some protected under law. We are all a complex mix of our own diversity attributes. 

Members can log in to access more information about ASOHNS Diversity and Inclusion strategy.


Our goals are:

  1. The diversity in our society mirrors the diversity in the community we serve 
  2. Our society meets the Diversity Council of Australia definition of inclusion: a diversity of people feel that they are respected and valued team members, who are able to be themselves and contribute and progress at work.

How will we achieve our Goals?

In 2019, ASOHNS Council appointed the first Diversity and Inclusion Advisor  to plan, implement and evaluate the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. The strategy includes defined goals and timelines, accountability, data collection, regular reporting against targets, a focus on diversity at leadership level and includes all domains of ASOHNS activities. 

The Diversity and Inclusion Advisor is supported by the members of the Diversity and Inclusion Sub-committee 

The strategy is informed by frameworks and philosophies for diversity and inclusion. The following paragraphs are adapted from The Rainbow Tick Guide to LBGTI-inclusive practice (GLHV@ARCSHS, La Trobe University (2016) The Rainbow Tick guide to LGBTI-inclusive practice. Prepared by Pamela Kennedy, Melbourne: La Trobe University).

The Guide is also informed by three discrete but overlapping understandings of diversity and their application to the development of LGBTI-inclusive practice, and 3 inclusive practice principles:

  1. Equity: frames diversity in terms of human rights and social justice. 
  2. Business Case: values diversity as a way of maximising both market share and workforce potential. 
  3. Humanism:  celebrating and valuing diversity as “a social good in its own right. Here, there is no norm or gold Standard against which others are judged and necessarily found wanting. Rather, our common humanity is understood to consist of a sea of differences, with no one identity, no one way of being valued over and above others.

Inclusive practice Principles

  1. Recognise the dignity and value of all people.
  2. Freedom from discrimination.
  3. Access and equity, provide inclusive services for all people

How does Diversity and Inclusion deliver better outcomes?

Diversity and Inclusion delivers better outcomes at three levels, through three mechanisms: 

  1. Individuals reach their full potential
  2. Teams reach their full potential: 
    • Cognitive diversity: better problem solving, risk management, decisions, research and innovation, bias and blind spot mitigation
    • Cultural diversity: cultural add, collective cultural competence, cultural safety
    • Increased services to underserved populations
  3. Societies reach their full potential

These three mechanisms have a common final pathway: productive, creative conflict. To keep conflicts of ideas, culture, biases and blind spots in the productive zone, we need agreed and non-negotiable behaviours:

  • Respectful behaviour and communication.
  • Robust civility: having the difficult conversations, disagreeing well, challenging ideas and behaviours, not the individual
  • Unconditional positive regard for each other (the belief that people are doing their best with the resources they have, are capable of change and should be regarded with care and support regardless of what they say and do.

Want to contribute?

You can join the Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee, participate in Member surveys and event feedback and contact the Diversity and Inclusion Advisor diversity.inclusion@asohns.org.au or any member of ASOHNS Federal Council or secretariat.