The AASM’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee began as a task force in 2018, became a full committee in 2019, and has been working within the Academy to promote a welcoming environment, identify barriers, and support initiatives for better member diversity, equity, and inclusion. The committee strives to develop resources that will educate AASM members and leaders on issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we greatly appreciate the feedback we’ve received from members.
Updating the DEI Statement and Webpage
After authoring the original DEI statement, the committee recently updated it to reflect AASM’s evolving commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion:
“The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recognizes that the diversity of its community – including its members, leadership, and staff – is a vital component of the AASM’s mission: Advancing sleep care and enhancing sleep health to improve lives. We are committed to maintaining an inclusive space by respecting and celebrating our unique attributes, backgrounds, and perspectives. To build a strong community, the AASM is devoted to providing a welcoming environment in which diverse opinions, experiences, and viewpoints are appreciated, and every individual feels a sense of belonging. We value equity and seek to provide opportunities for all while striving to identify and eliminate barriers to inclusion. Recognizing that sleep is essential to health, we will work with stakeholders, policymakers, and the public to reduce sleep health disparities.”
The new statement can be found on the updated DEI page, which also includes other DEI-related resources.
Understanding the AASM Membership
At its inception, the DEI Task Force was asked to assess AASM’s current membership and leadership to identify underrepresented groups. To do this, the task force developed a series of demographic data questions to establish a baseline, and then, to monitor AASM’s membership composition compared to our volunteers and leaders.
The collected data has been used to produce an annual report. The 2021 report is in process, and we invite you to read the 2020 DEI Data Report. To help make this effort a continuing success, please complete your member profile, if you have not already, to help us continue to learn about — and do more for — all AASM members.
Identifying Barriers to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The committee was also asked to identify barriers to diversity and inclusion, including any that might deter members from underrepresented groups from serving in leadership roles. This work included analyzing the AASM DEI Data Report, examining AASM’s bylaws, and looking at the volunteer and leader assignment/election processes to identify opportunities to support DEI. The committee identified the need to create a diverse AASM leadership pipeline and recommended:
- Implicit bias training for those involved in the committee member and leadership selection processes, which was implemented.
- Creating opportunities for underrepresented members to become more involved in the AASM, resulting in the AASM DEI Travel and Registration Grant, which will help individuals become more engaged at the SLEEP annual meeting.
Other DEI Work
APSS DEI Leadership Award
The committee has played an integral role in the launch of a new award, the APSS DEI Leadership Award, to recognize efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in the sleep medicine and sleep and circadian research fields. The award is jointly given by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society during the SLEEP meeting.
The committee also has been working on educational content for members, including two webinars that are now available on-demand and free to members in the AASM store:
- Diversity in GME
- Implicit Bias and Microaggressions(1 CME/CEC)
- Talking Sleep Podcast – OSA in Children with Down Syndrome
- Flex time session at SLEEP 2021 on Sunday, June 13, at 6 p.m. EDT, on “DEI Challenges in Sleep”
We have more programming in the works that we will share soon.
We are recruiting volunteers for discussion groups to help us understand the barriers of membership for certain member groups and to consider potential changes for the future of membership.
Addressing Member Comments
The AASM values member feedback. Using our online DEI feedback form, we have received several questions and comments over the past year. Please see our responses below.
How are you doing with diversity, equity, and inclusion? You will find resources to help you on the AASM’s DEI page, along with a contact form to provide feedback or suggestions.
Andrew Spector, MD, FAASM
Chair, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee
Responses to DEI Feedback
The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement is meant to address all aspects of diversity, including gender, national origin, disability, race, and others. As such, this statement is left purposefully nonspecific. That said, the AASM is putting resources directly into increasing participation of members and potential members from underrepresented groups (including racial and ethnic groups). For example, new for 2021, the Board of Directors approved a grant to fund participation in the annual APSS meeting by attendees from these groups.
The DEI Committee agrees with the importance of addressing racial sleep health disparities. While our committee’s mandate is directed internally at improving diversity, equity, and inclusion within the AASM, we have referred this suggestion to the committees that address sleep apnea diagnoses and treatments, including the Hypopnea Scoring Rule Task Force, the ICSD-3 Revision Task Force, and the Scoring Manual Committee. In addition, in 2021/2022, the AASM has included health equity in its goals.
The AASM Board of Directors participated in an implicit bias training workshop in 2019, and another implicit bias training workshop for all AASM leaders, including committee chairs and vice chairs, took place in November 2020. Our “Implicit Bias & Microaggressions in Medicine” webinar, held in January 2021, is now available on-demand as a free member resource. We would be happy to take any specific suggestions for future workshops as our education on this subject is never done.
Diversity is a prioritized consideration when the Nominating Committee considers candidates for the Board of Directors. In this context, multiple aspects of diversity are considered, including race and ethnicity, gender, primary specialty, practice setting, geography, expertise, and previous AASM service. AASM’s 2020 DEI Data Report provides a detailed overview of representation within AASM’s volunteers and leaders. The 2021 report will be available later this year.
The AASM does want to see more underrepresented minorities become AASM members, serve in leadership roles on AASM committees and task forces, and serve on the board of directors. Strengthening the diversity of our membership and our leadership pipeline will help promote greater diversity on the Board of Directors. Implicit bias training has been provided to our volunteer leaders, and the committee is continuing its work to identify any barriers that may deter members from underrepresented groups from serving in leadership roles within the AASM. We are focused on recommending strategies for improvement, such as the recently launched DEI Travel and Registration Grant, and our annual DEI Data Reports will help us measure the results of this work.