The International Orthopaedic Diversity Alliance (IODA) is a member organisation that seeks to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field of orthopaedic surgery across the globe.
The group was founded in late 2019 by Jennifer Green, main picture, an Australian orthopaedic surgeon, and at the time, Chair for the Orthopaedic Women’s Link within the Australian Orthopaedic Association (AuOA). It was born from the efforts of Vivian PC Chye, President of the Malaysian Orthopaedic Association in 2018-2019 and Kristy Weber, the first female president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)in 2019-2020. Both Dr. Chye and Dr. Weber were advocating strongly to promote improved diversity within orthopaedics, not simply from a gender standpoint, but also to include underrepresented minorities.
Dr. Green championed the early efforts, linking key advocates from North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Latin America, so that the individuals could work in collaboration and help amplify their efforts, instead of operating in silos. In 2019, The British Orthopaedic Association (BOA) was developing a diversity strategy and were assisted from lessons learned in both Australia and the United States through similar efforts from the AuOA, the AAOS, and the American Orthopaedic Association. Through these meetings and the groundwork of Dr. Jennifer Green, the concept of creating an alliance of orthopaedic surgeons collaborating across boundaries was a natural progression. The group sought orthopaedic leaders from across the globe known to champion diversity efforts to join their ranks and help build membership. IODA currently boasts over 40 members that are in the Presidential Line, or former Presidents of national societies. This involvement from global orthopaedic leadership highlights the importance of IODA’s efforts and groundbreaking early achievements.
The IODA Board was formally constructed in late 2019 and is composed of 12 members, including six regional representatives (Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, and North America). This representation was codified into the by-laws to ensure continued global involvement moving forward.
The inaugural Presidential Line of IODA includes:
The Board is supported by five committees that help advance IODA’s core activities. The Social Media Committee helps disseminate diversity information via its various platforms but also highlights the magnificent work being done by IODA members and facilitates the global reach of IODA’s work. The Webinar Committee has been diligent in developing webinars including a recent AAOS webinar on “Creating a global orthopaedic culture in which everyone can thrive.” Webinar topics include education on the importance of diversity, the concept of allyship and advocacy, along with bouncing back after breaks in a career.
The Webinar Committee has worked closely with other organizations to co-brand webinars promoting diversity to heighten efforts related to diversity. The Diversity Library Committee has created a resource for diversity related research and articles that is housed on the IODA website with categories such as leadership, diversity and training, pregnancy and parenting, mentorship and sponsorship, along with LGBTQI+, and bullying/harassment. The Website Committee helps house these resources in addition to recordings of webinars and the quarterly newsletter. The orthopaedicdiversity.org website can also be used by members to connect with fellow advocates around the globe for mentorship/sponsorship or as a family/community. That brough forth our newest committee, still being developed, the Mentorship Committee. The overall goal of this committee is to link mentors and mentees to help guide young surgeons through career choices, but also serve as a support system through difficult situations related to diversity, equity and inclusion.
In December 2021, IODA held their first strategic planning meeting to develop a concrete set of goals and a plan to achieve them from 2022 to 2024. A high priority of the session was to develop both a mission and vision statement representing the organisation. That was defined as:
Mission Statement: To champion diversity, equity, and inclusion in orthopaedics worldwide.
Vision Statement: A global orthopaedic culture in which everyone can thrive.
In addition, the Board established clear goals to accomplish over the next three years in the early development of the organisation:
1. To expand the reach of global diversity efforts
2. To equip IODA members with the knowledge and tools to create and sustain a diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment.
3. To develop and sustainable organisation
Early work on these goals includes growing membership, that currently approaching 900 members. Champions for diversity can easily sign up for membership at our website www.orthopaedicdiversity.org or through a QR code (see below). Through the work of our various committees, quarterly newsletters, and through our website, we are expanding resources and tools for our membership to work towards the goal of equipping members with the resources to further diversity efforts. In addition, IODA has established 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in the United States to help encourage donation efforts and fundraising.
For the organisation to grow and be sustainable, sponsorship by members and industry partners is vital. We implore potential partners to reach out via firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about sponsorship opportunities.
It has become clear that a global diversity advocacy group should not only advocate for women but for all under-represented groups in orthopaedics, promoting diversity in all forms. Research strongly supports that diversity and inclusion in healthcare is a vital strategy at improving health outcomes and eliminating healthcare inequalities. We are committed towards improving diversity within orthopaedics and helping abolish those inequalities, not only for our patients, but within our workforce.
IODA plans to continue to reach across the globe to help advance all aspects of diversity within orthopaedic surgery. By granting its members access to research and resources to help them promote diversity, along with connecting with a vast network/family of advocates and mentors we are confident that there can be real strides to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion through orthopaedics for all under-represented groups. Through these efforts, we are confident that we can assist in making incredible strides towards a more inclusive, and equitable, field of orthopaedic surgery.
Dr. Matthew Schmitz is a adolescent sports surgeon and hip preservation surgeon in San Antonio, TX. He serves on the Board of Directors for the International Orthopaedic Diversity Alliance in the role of Secretary.