Thursday, April 27, 2023
The ABGC Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) Committee is continuing its journey toward implementing structured, intentional, and permanent DEIJ efforts within ABGC, the exam process, and the recertification process. Currently, this means developing objectives in the Committee Guidance Document for board approval.
Objectives — some of which are already being implemented — include reviewing Nonprofit HR findings, determining demographic metrics, proposing DEIJ language and definitions, promoting exam access, and considering opportunities to partner with regulatory authorities and relevant associations on complementary DEIJ efforts.
Enrique Lopez, MS, LCGC, committee chair, shares a few details about how this journey toward DEIJ is going.
Can you share updates on the process of implementing Nonprofit HR’s findings?
So far, we have been tackling this in terms of short-term versus long-term goals. Our main goal has been to figure out a way to implement collection of demographic data voluntarily for individuals taking the certification exam. We are trying not to recreate the wheel by looking to other organizations like NSGC, but we’re also complementing previous efforts with some we deem valuable. I think the challenge is that we have to take into account what testing centers can accommodate, whether it be logistical or technological challenges. The committee is close to being done choosing what demographic questions will be asked. We will then work with PSI to see how this is implemented.
As explained in last year’s newsletter, the Certification Exam Committee has reviewed all items and has been enhancing recruitment of diverse item writers.
Numerous objectives are being proposed in the DEIJ Committee Guidance Document. Which one are you personally most eager to start and why?
I’m keen on working on a potential way to collect demographic data on the certification exam as well as to assess if the exam can be translated to additional languages. The data collected will give us a nuanced representation of individuals taking the exam and with knowledge of this comes the ability to enact the necessary change to reduce barriers identified.
What would you say to an ABGC Diplomate worried that the committee could implement too many changes?
How will these changes make genetic counselors better? I think it’s necessary to be transparent in the decisions we make. Not everyone will have the same opinion on how to move forward, and that’s important to take into account. We can discuss this as a committee and think of ways to mitigate situations like this. I also think it’s not about making genetic counselors better. It’s about allowing all individuals to have a fair chance with the end goal of increasing diversity.
How will these goals be measured and when can Diplomates expect to start seeing measurable changes coming from the objectives?
We are still discussing how to proceed with reporting measurement of goals and how that would be described to Diplomates. As of now, we are trying to finalize the demographic collection piece. The plan is to implement collection during the next certification exam in August, and we will discuss as a committee how the data will be analyzed and in what time intervals — e.g., after a certain number of certification exams.
Why did you choose to serve on the DEIJ Committee and what are your personal goals as chair?
I want to make an effort for our profession to be representative of the population we serve. There should be individuals of all different backgrounds practicing in our field, because that is how we build a more inclusive community. With inclusivity, we can foster compassion and empathy towards others and attempt to understand their perspectives and values. I applied to the DEIJ Committee to try and push us further into this direction. I’m hopeful we can reduce the barriers to certification for individuals of all identified backgrounds.
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