Tomya Watt, Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Talent Acquisition & Mobility

Tomya Watt, Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Talent Acquisition & Mobility

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VIDEO | 01:27
Chief Diversity Officer Tomya Watt describes the difference between equality, diversity, and inclusion and explains how they complement one another.
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“In order for our patients — all patients — to feel welcomed and supported, our workforce has to feel welcomed and supported. In 2020, leadership, including the Board, recognized there was much for them to learn and hear from our employees. They took the time to listen to issues in ways that maybe they hadn’t listened in the past. I think there’s been a dramatic shift in the organization’s attention and energy on issues of equality, diversity, and inclusion. We are focused on increasing representation in our patients; however, we also have to look at our workforce and work to close those gaps, as well.

My primary focus is our workforce — attracting and retaining employees. For example, during the 2008 recession, when so many people were unemployed, it was a best practice to add education requirements like a college degree to reach top talent. We found, however, that this created an artificial barrier, which ended up eliminating many people who could have made a meaningful contribution to MSK. Over time, we started removing the requirement. And in the summer of 2020, we made the commitment to remove educational requirements from all jobs unless required for a license or certification.

Additionally, we have to provide our existing employees with the best opportunities to develop their careers here at MSK and break down barriers to employment by attracting talent not necessarily from the places we’ve drawn from in the past.

However, I want to be clear that if we only focus on diversity, it can be perceived as a quota-driven solution. Instead, we have to focus on inclusion. In focusing on inclusion, we will use different tools and solutions — in other words, equity — to make sure that all employees feel respected, supported, and welcomed.

We established the MSK Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Council and the Governance Group. We have provided and will continue to provide workshops and learning programs to set the foundation and give us a common language. But it’s much less about programs and more about the individual. How do I come to work every day and value my colleagues, whether they are the same as or different from me? Ultimately, equality, diversity, and inclusion is everyone’s responsibility.

Together, we all play an important role in fulfilling our commitments to equality, diversity, and inclusion and holding each other and MSK accountable for creating a sense of inclusion.”