Background: Attrition rates of women and faculty of color at majority institutions have been considered to be indicators of the inclusivity of institutional culture. As facilitators, the effective policies, practices, and programs can facilitate faculty vitality, however outcomes must be continuously monitored.  Since July, 2020, 62 faculty of color have left Penn Medicine for a variety of reasons, of which a subset could have been addressed early, potentially reversing a decision to leave the institution.   This higher than previously observed attrition rate prompts a review of practices, either existing or nonexistent, which may mitigate this trend.  Although this finding is being observed during an unprecedented time of a pandemic and reflects the nationally recognized, chronic higher attrition rate among junior faculty, by responding to this current trend exhibited by faculty of color, we can ultimately enhance the culture that supports the vitality of all faculty.  These recommendations have been informed by exit interviews of departing faculty and input from key stakeholders.

Recommendations

Ensuring an orientation to the importance of inclusion, diversity, and equity:

  1. Listing the Vice Dean for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (IDE) in recruitment materials for executive searches affirms the importance of this position as a resource for new leaders. Currently, this position is not listed on job descriptions developed by external search firms.
  2. Candidates should be asked to provide a statement regarding their previous experiences related to inclusion, diversity, and equity efforts and future plans if hired.

Ensuring that new leaders have the necessary tools and knowledge to advance inclusion, diversity, and equity at the unit level:

  1. Formally including the Vice Dean for IDE on the list of appointments to meet with new leaders during the onboarding process affirms the importance of IDE as an institutional priority.  These meetings will include an introduction to the OIDE, available resources, responsibilities of mentors and sponsors, and a review of key inclusive leadership skills.  The existence of an OIDE restorative practitioner who can assist in addressing discriminatory behavior and practices will also be highlighted.
  2. Coaches hired to work with incoming chairs should be equipped to not only enhance the physician executive skills of new leaders, but also enhance academic administrative skills, specifically including discussion related to the developing the careers of faculty, serving as sponsors to faculty, staff, and trainees, growing the research enterprise, and developing and leading a diverse workforce

Ensuring that practices exist to strengthen efforts to retain faculty:

  1. Chairs or Division Chiefs should meet with faculty annually, to review career goals, progress in achieving specific goals, opportunities for professional development, and discuss any perceived barriers to promotion.
  2. Department Chairs/Division Chiefs should continue to review compensation annually for all faculty with specific attention to equity and compare compensation threshold to relevant national benchmarks.
  3. At least a biennial review of demographic trends of those individuals subjected to professionalism review with the purpose of uncovering any existing bias should be conducted; the efficiency and effectiveness of the process should also be assessed.  Promotion rates should also be evaluated at least on a biennial basis.
  4. Department Chairs/Division Chiefs should consider referring all diverse faculty contemplating departure to the IDE Vice Dean prior to the submission of their resignation.
  5. Department Chairs should continue to encourage all faculty to respond to the Diversity Engagement Survey (DES), when administered, in order to effectively assess the culture of individual departments.
  6. Continued review of attrition rates based on self-reported demographic characteristics should be conducted on an annual basis. 
  7. The IDE Vice Dean will continue to perform exit interviews to better understand where there are institutional opportunities to retain future faculty. 
  8. Chairs/Division Chiefs should continue to be held accountable for the inclusivity of the unit culture.