Leadership & Management

Understanding Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Academy

Dr. Sonia Anand (@DrSoniaAnand1) & Avery McNair
Originally Published November 26, 2020

The following is a video written by Dr. Sonia Anand, Associate Chair of Equity & Diversity within the McMaster Department of Medicine. She created this video to help others better understand the concepts of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). Special thanks to Avery McNair which made this wonder video come to life. Special thanks to the Department of Medicine for allowing us to link to this video.

About this Video

The following is a note by Dr. Sonia Anand which explains the impetus for making the video above:

I created this video to try and convey some of the concepts of equity, diversity, inclusion, and also what "privilege" can look like - as applied to academic life.

I observed there was a gap in peoples understanding - especially apparent when new Faculty recruits were asked to write a 1/2 page EDI statement. This was the first time many Faculty or "Faculty to be" had heard of "EDI" or reflected on issues we face in the Academy. Usually the EDI statements would discuss a commitment to treat patients from vulnerable populations more empathetically  or equally - but that is something every physician should already endeavor to do - and is different from equity issues Faculty members may face in the Academy. I would refer the new Faculty to read the policy documents on EDI - but I received the feedback that these were too "policy speak" and therefore less easy to wade through. We all learn best through stories, so it is my hope that the Airplane analogy may increase this understanding in a more simplified manner.

I (used) to travel a lot for research conferences etc... and sometimes I would fly business class , whereas other times when travelling with my family I would fly economy class. When in business class, I would feel a sense of entitlement - where is my newspaper, cashew nuts, and expect to board first, leave first etc..., and would contrast this when I was flying in economy class where i would lament not having the perks of business class, yet feeling humbled to experience what the majority of the passengers experience. This was the genesis of the "EDI airplane analogy".

Dr. Sonia Anand is a Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at McMaster University, and a Senior Scientist at the Population Health Research Institute. She is also a vascular medicine specialist at Hamilton Health Sciences and McMaster University. Dr. Anand is the Association Chair of Equity & Diversity in the McMaster Department of Medicine. Dr. Anand holds the Canada Research Chair in Ethnic Diversity and Cardiovascular Disease and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario/Michael G. DeGroote Chair in Population Health Research. Her present research focuses upon the environmental and genetic determinants of vascular disease in populations of varying ancestral origin, women and cardiovascular disease.

Avery McNair is a graduate of McMaster’s Arts and Science Program and is currently employed in the non-profit sector, although she plans to pursue further education in the broad discipline of Health Sciences. Avery uses her skills in the visual arts for knowledge translation work and is thrilled to collaborate with Dr. Sonia Anand on this important project.