Yale Urology has started a new “mission mapping” technique that could be a game-changing tool in reducing unconscious bias when screening new faculty candidates. Yale School of Medicine Deputy Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Darin Latimore, MD, says Yale’s may be the first urology department in the country to tackle bias in this way. “I encourage you to study it. This could be very interesting!” Latimore said in a recent grand rounds presentation with attendings and residents.
The department’s diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) committee decided to ask faculty applicants to note their one, three, and five-year goals in a de-identified document. “The key concept here is that there are no names, photos, or demographic information at this stage … no knowledge of the person’s identity,” explains Jaime Cavallo, MD, MPHS, committee member and former chair who first recommended and implemented the change. The applicants’ professional goals are then compared with departmental goals. If they align and the person’s qualifications, training, and experience are deemed sufficient, the candidate is invited to interview.
Latimore says this could help address a tendency many departments have in seeking and/or promoting candidates/applicants. “You really need to tie the notion of ‘are they the right fit?’ to a mission/vision, job description … something more than your gut indicating how they’ll do.”
Latimore explains it’s not if departments are screening with an unconscious or implicit bias, but how that bias is manifested and managed, and how aware hiring leaders are of their tendencies. “Every single one of us has bias,” says Latimore. “Our brains are actually wired that way. What’s problematic is our biases are seated in the stereotypes of our culture. Most of our biases benefit the predominant groups in the culture and disadvantage the minoritized, marginalized, and stigmatized in that same culture.”
Department of Urology Chair Isaac Y. Kim, MD, PhD, MBA, supports the committee’s plans and has given the go-ahead to implement the “mission mapping” immediately. “I’m proud of our faculty for being innovative and helping to meet the need of being more diverse. That is necessary for our success,” says Kim.
Latimore agrees. “To truly change the culture we need to not only bring in diversity, but make sure it’s an inclusive environment for everyone in our community.”
Current committee leadership believes a large part of ensuring inclusivity is having the practice catch on beyond urology. “We are excited to implement this innovative technique that significantly advances our efforts to alleviate potential bias,” says Harris Foster, MD, chair of Yale Urology’s DEI committee. “Our hope is that this or similar methods can be developed for use in other departments in the School of Medicine.”
Latimore is encouraged by what he sees and hears. “Yale Urology is truly open and grappling with these tough issues,” he says. “They’re looking in the mirror and making structural changes. Those are important next steps.”