Launch of Action for Cultural Transformation (ACT) and Unconscious Bias Training

July 1, 2020

To make real our commitment to actively address all forms of racism and bias at Penn Medicine, we are pleased to announce the steps we are taking beginning in July to create a more inclusive and just community. As promised in our June 15 message to the community, a framework for taking action has been developed by the Penn Medicine Office of Inclusion and Diversity (OID) in partnership with Penn Medicine Academy and leaders and representatives throughout our institution. This plan, called Action for Cultural Transformation (ACT), has been posted on the OID website.

The ACT initiative will drive an enterprise-wide effort to review organizational systems and identify opportunities to mitigate bias and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our approach aims to capitalize on current momentum and drive immediate action wherever possible.

Over the next two months, the governance and infrastructure for ACT will be refined. Our goal is to bring in as many voices as are interested in participating to identify key goals, lead virtual groups to further refine and prioritize those goals, and continue to brainstorm regarding new actions that have not yet been identified. We encourage you to visit the OID website and become engaged.

At the same time, we are taking our first immediate action, by launching a series of unconscious bias training workshops beginning the week of July 13th. Understanding our own biases is the first step to building a more inclusive workplace. The workshops will run from July through September. They will reach managers and administrators at every level throughout the health system and in the Perelman School of Medicine, beginning with the executive leadership team, who will participate in the first session.

The training sessions will be led by Brian Gittens, EdD, a nationally recognized leader in this field, and his team. Dr. Gittens has worked with us in the past. He has decades of experience working with the military, higher education, governmental organizations, corporations and non-profits, as well as academic medicine. We are confident that you will find these sessions to be both informative and inspiring.

Ultimately, eliminating racism is the work of our entire community. By the end of the year, the trainings that begin next month will expand to include all Penn Medicine employees, faculty, students and trainees.

In the next few days, an initial group of leaders will be receiving additional information about the training sessions, including a schedule and invitation to participate. We urge you to respond promptly.

In the meantime, we recommend two articles -- an overview of the topic of unconscious or cognitive bias by Dick Byyny, MD, FACP, Executive Director of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, and an essay by Eve Higginbotham SM, MD, ML, which describes the importance of inclusion as a core competence of professionalism.

We are excited that the ACT process has begun. We look forward to working with all of you in the coming weeks and months to transform our culture and bring about change at Penn Medicine.

J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, Executive Vice President of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine

Kevin B. Mahoney, Chief Executive Officer, University of Pennsylvania Health System