11th Annual Chancellor’s Diversity Forum Tackles Staff Climate and Equity Concerns

By Kate Vidinsky

Paul Jenny, Jeff Chiu, Nancy Duranteau, Sergio Saenz, Leeane Jensen, and Roger Mohamed sit on a panel for the Chancellor's Leadership Forum on Diversity and Inclusion
Panelists at the Chancellor's Leadership Forum on Diversity and Inclusion (from left) Paul Jenny; Jeff Chiu, MHRM; Nancy Duranteau, MFA; Sergio Saenz, MA; Leeane Jensen, MPH; Roger Mohamed, MS. Photo by Susan Merrell

Issues impacting staff climate and equity at UC San Francisco were at the forefront of the conversation during the 11th annual Chancellor’s Leadership Forum on Diversity and Inclusion.

The April 26 event, organized by the Office of Diversity and Outreach, offered a platform for community members to hear from senior leadership on current diversity initiatives and report on progress made to date at UCSF, as well as for members of the UCSF community to voice their thoughts about how the University can aim to do better.

During his opening remarks, Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, gave heartfelt thanks to the community for their significant contributions and commitment to UCSF, while acknowledging the “unparalleled challenges and turmoil” present in today’s society, including the ongoing national health care debate and rising instances of inequality and division.

Renee Navarro speaks during the Chancellor’s Leadership Forum on Diversity and Inclusion at Cole Hall
Vice Chancellor Renee Navarro, MD, PharmD, who leads the Office of Diversity and Outreach, speaks during the Chancellor’s Leadership Forum on Diversity and Inclusion at Cole Hall. Photo by Susan Merrell

He applauded UCSF for the outstanding progress that has been made in the face of such continued challenges, pointing to the successful launch of UCSF: The Campaign, the landmark $5 billion fundraising campaign committed to solving complex health problems. The campaign identifies achieving health equity as one of its primary tenets.

Hawgood also emphasized the importance of adhering to UCSF’s PRIDE Values – Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Diversity, and Excellence.

“We must not fall into the trap of assuming we all are living these values everyday,” he said. “These values are aspirational, and we must commit to them anew each and every single day, and hold each and every person here at UCSF accountable to them each and every day.”

Creating and Sustaining a Climate of Inclusion

Since its founding in 2010, the Office of Diversity and Outreach, led by Vice Chancellor Renee Navarro, MD, PharmD, has seen increasingly diverse populations at UCSF, as well as more widespread diversity education and training efforts.

Between 2010 and 2017, the number of Hispanic faculty members more than doubled, and over 400 more women joined the faculty. Faculty comprises more than 3,000 employees. Among staff, which total more than 19,000 employees, the number of African-Americans increased by over 300, with modest gains among Hispanics and native Americans as well.

Elba Clemente-Lambert (left) and Crystal Morris, original members of the UCSF Black Caucus, take a bow at the 11th Annual Chancellor's Leadership Forum on Diversity and Inclusion. Photo by Susan Merrell

Programs like the School of Medicine’s Differences Matter initiative and the School of Nursing’s Diversity in Action Committee, or DIVA, have been successfully implemented, along with an array of special events and staff resource days promoting inclusion. These programs all share the common goal of making UCSF the most diverse, equitable and inclusive academic health sciences system in the country.

Yet, while the University’s commitment to creating an inclusive climate has led to tangible progress, according to Navarro, “the gains are too slow, the progress uneven, and too many barriers remain.” For example, despite UCSF being a majority female organization, significantly more men still hold upper-level management positions than women. The proportion of white staff in manager positions is also significantly higher than their overall proportion in the staff.

Determined to keep the pendulum swinging in the right direction of inclusivity, Navarro applauded the historic efforts of the UCSF Black Caucus, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and is the longest standing employee group across the entire 10-campus UC system. The event featured a video of commemorating the work of the Black Caucus, which led a strike to fight against segregation of custodial workers and rallied for more underrepresented minorities to be admitted to the medical school. “It’s our duty to really recognize how many of us stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us to increase opportunities and open paths that were previously closed,” she said.  

Encouraging Open Dialogue to Further Progress

The panel discussion comprising of staff leaders and question-and-answer session during the last portion of the forum provided an outlet for several community members to voice their suggestions and concerns.

“I’m hopeful that with an increased focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, more opportunities will be provided to underrepresented staff members, and I hope this conversation will help move the needle toward positive outcomes,” said Roger Mohamed, the director of operations at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, who moderated the panel.

George Taylor, DMD, MPH, DrPH, professor of Preventive & Restorative Dental Sciences and associate dean for Diversity and Inclusion in the School of Dentistry, poses a question for the panelists during the Q&A portion of the 11th Annual Chancellor's Leadership Forum on Diversity and Inclusion. Photo by Susan Merrell

“We have to ensure all members of our community are afforded the opportunity to advance,” said panelist Paul Jenny, senior vice chancellor for finance and administration. “We have a responsibility to ourselves and our community as the second largest employer in San Francisco.” 

Audience questions covered a wide range of topics, including how to more effectively implement mandatory diversity trainings, how to increase the number of summer interns from underrepresented minority and lower socioeconomic communities, how to better collect data on LGBTQ staff and those with disabilities, and how staff compensation is assessed to ensure equity across groups.

The panelists agreed that mandatory diversity training would only be one step in a larger effort needed to reduce exclusionary practices and bias on campus. The effort should also aim to incorporate diversity learnings into day-to-day decision making and to ensure more tracking and accountability in the response to these issues.

“Just by sitting here I am defying the odds. I am a female, African-American leader who is engaged and empowered to give my best, and I know that is not the norm,” said panelist Nancy Duranteau, director of UCSF Learning and Organization Development. “The goal is for my scenario to not be defying the odds, but instead to become the norm.”

For more campus news and resources, visit Pulse of UCSF.