Message from Dean Richardson: Diversity 3.0 and our Women’s Stories Project

Dean Richardson

12/07/11  Portland, OR

The December 2011 issue of Academic Medicine had an interesting commentary by Marc A. Nivet, EdD, Chief Diversity Officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges. Dr. Nivet adapts an IBM process framework to describe the evolution of diversity thinking within academic medicine. He calls it the Diversity Operating System and identifies three distinct phases: 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0.

It’s worth reading in its entirety (here is the link), but I would like to focus on his third phase, or Diversity 3.0. “In the third phase, which is emerging today and reflects a growing understanding of diversity’s broader relevance to institutions and systems, diversity and inclusion are integrated into the core workings of the institution and framed as integral for achieving excellence,” he writes. This is an important concept and I agree with the characterization.

As an academic institution, we experience firsthand the link between intellectual vitality and access to a steady diet of diverse ideas and perspectives. Indeed, by continuing to transform our institution so that collaboration across all our missions is a centerpiece – organizationally and intellectually – we are acknowledging and strengthening this link. In Diversity 3.0, inclusion moves away from a moral imperative, although that remains important, and is rightfully recognized as essential to our ability to maintain excellence in our education, research, health care and outreach missions in the rapidly changing 21st century society.

Success in the Diversity 3.0 era will depend in part on our ability to develop, in the words of Dr. Nivet, “a culture of inclusion, one that fully appreciates the differences of perspective.” There are many ways to support inclusion throughout all levels of the School of Medicine and we’ll be talking about them; this month, I’m highlighting a project from the Labyrinth Movement, a unique undertaking of senior women faculty members in the School of Medicine.

The name – the Labyrinth Movement – was inspired by an article in the September 2007 issue of the Harvard Business Review titled “Women and the Labyrinth of Leadership,” which found, among other things, that the glass ceiling metaphor did not accurately capture the reality of advancement for women. Instead, a woman’s journey to leadership resembled a labyrinth with multiple paths.

Broadly, this senior women faculty group’s goal is to help transform the culture of OHSU by reducing obstacles that impede the progress of women leaders and creating an environment where men and women share leadership equally. There are multiple facets to this effort but one that shines a clear spotlight on supporting a culture of inclusion is the School of Medicine Women’s Stories Project. At the core of this project is the observation that navigating the leadership labyrinth is easier when you have the insight and guidance of those who have done so previously.

In the Women’s Stories Project, five senior faculty members have shared their stories – with admirable frankness – about their experiences over many years in academic medicine. Not all of these experiences have been ideal but with this information, we learn more about ourselves and about how we can improve in ways that will benefit everyone in our academic medicine community. This month, Karen Deveney, MD, Professor, Department of Surgery, looks back at the lessons learned from her days as a resident in surgery through her position today as the education director of our own surgery residency program. Over the next several months, we’ll share all the profiles from the Women’s Stories Project. I invite you to take a look here at

Identifying the many different voices and ideas in the School of Medicine, and to a certain extent understanding and relating to their genesis, is essential to moving into the Diversity 3.0 era. I look forward to working with all of you over the coming months and years to foster an inclusive culture in our school. It will benefit all of us, and most of all, it will benefit the health and well-being of those we serve. Thanks for everything you do for OHSU and Oregon. 


Best Regards,

Mark Richardson

Mark Richardson, MD, MBA
Dean, OHSU School of Medicine
President, Faculty Practice Plan