ASHG Diversity and Inclusion Policy

As both a community and scientific society advancing genetics and genomics research, ASHG is committed to diversity and inclusion. Our sincere message for geneticists is that everyone belongs and is welcome. Diverse perspectives strengthen our community and are vital to achieving ASHG’s vision that people everywhere realize the benefits of human genetics and genomics.

In January 2020, the ASHG Board of Directors approved and released a Diversity and Inclusion Policy Statement, below, outlining specific areas for attention in the next five years. Our goal is to set a positive path that is both aspirational and actionable, and the policy statement is the first product of the Society’s ASHG Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Task Force, which is charged with engaging all our committees to create an action plan for ASHG’s current and future programming. The Board created the Task Force to advance ASHG’s five year Strategic Plan objectives to address diversity and inclusion in the Society’s membership and leadership, in the genetics and genomics workforce, and in research participation. Based on the Task Force’s input, ASHG will focus these efforts on increasing participation of people from underrepresented ancestries; sex; gender identity and sexual orientation; disability; and economic disparity.

Building an inclusive community is attainable and with these steps, we believe we are headed in the right direction for a new decade. We welcome continued feedback on what is working well and what we can do better. We can and will do it together – to that end, ASHG encourages members to review the Policy Statement, and explore how each of us as individuals can also contribute individually to these larger shared goals through our own research and professional lives.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion in genetics and genomics research is a scientific and community imperative. To achieve ASHG’s vision that people everywhere realize the benefits of genetics and genomics research, ASHG will:

  1. Celebrate genetic diversity, one of humanity’s greatest strengths, as a foundation for scientific discovery that benefits health and society. Embracing natural human genetic variation and its interactions with diverse environments is central to the science of genetics and genomics and its applications to human wellbeing.
  2. Work to ensure our leadership and broader membership reflects and appreciates the diverse scientific and public communities we seek to serve and promote diversity and inclusion in our scientific events and forums. We will integrate diversity and cultivate a sense of belonging in the Society’s governance and programs.
  3. Create a more diverse and inclusive genetics and genomics research workforce through strong collaborations across academia, industry and government. Greater research workforce diversity is crucial to ensuring varied perspectives and experiences inform, enrich, and benefit the scientific agenda.
  4. Advocate for greater population diversity and inclusion in research to enable scientific discoveries that benefit all communities. We will focus attention on the consequences of relying on data sets with limited diversity, promote strategies for expanding representative data sets, and demonstrate how diverse research cohorts can reduce health disparities and improve health care for all.
  5. Improve the community’s ability to engage diverse audiences more consistently and competently, increasing support for the benefit of research among diverse populations. We will help researchers improve public engagement skills to enhance conversations with public constituencies about the benefits of research participation, help researchers understand the priorities of diverse communities, as well as address historic ethical faults in research practices, and help integrate professional and ethical practices in the research enterprise.

As ASHG pursues these goals, we commit to be an inclusive, welcoming, and learning community. In our inclusive and welcoming community, we invite people to bring their full selves and engage and develop as scientific leaders free from discrimination or unprofessional conduct. In our learning community, we provide opportunities for people to understand their own biases, improve self-awareness, and become more skilled at supporting diversity, inclusion, and belonging through their actions. ASHG will pursue these goals across the organization and will produce and implement a Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan. The Board will sustain this priority over time to achieve near-term progress and create long-term change.

Approved by the ASHG Board of Directors

January 10, 2020


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