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Statement Aims to Build Civil, Respectful, and Bully-Free Work Environments

Statement outlines organizational and individual strategies to address bias, discrimination, bullying, and harassment

Successfully addressing bias, discrimination, bullying, and harassment in the workplace requires institutional dedication; visible, supportive leadership; and adequate financial resources for implementing effective policies and procedures, according to an American College of Cardiology (ACC) health policy statement published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Uncivil and toxic behavior, including bias, discrimination, bullying, and harassment, has been well-documented in medicine and cardiology. A recent survey found over one-third of resident doctors and faculty reported experiencing bias, discrimination, bullying, and harassment at their main place of work and the behaviors were more commonly reported as directed toward women and racial/ethnic minorities.

Among the recommendations set by the authors to help eliminate bias, discrimination, bullying, and harassment:

  • Establishing confidential and fair mechanisms for reporting and investigating individuals and/or departments suspected or accused of bias, discrimination, bullying, and harassment.
  • Creating institutional resources to ensure that hiring decisions and performance evaluations are objective.
  • Adopting metrics supported by data collection to track progress and inform future plans.
  • Embracing independent evaluation of culture and the effectiveness of efforts to reduce uncivil behavior.
  • Recognizing champions and leaders who promote and model excellence in these areas.

"This document is not merely a position statement, but it is a call-to-action that articulates solutions and provides resources and tools for individuals, organizations, and professional societies who wish to address the widespread problem of bias, discrimination, bullying, and harassment in cardiology," said Pamela S. Douglas, MD, MACC, co-chair of the health policy statement. "The ramifications of not tackling these issues cannot be ignored, as uncivil behavior impacts employee retention, well-being, and has potentially high costs for the institution or practice."

In addition to outlining general recommendations for building respect, civility, and inclusion, the Health Policy Statement offers specific guidance and frameworks for developing institutional policies; confidential reporting systems; unbiased and objective hiring strategies; and education and training programs. The authors also discuss the unique roles of medical societies, including the ACC, in helping to address behaviors and move towards building a sense of belonging within the cardiovascular community.

"In order to implement meaningful, successful approaches to addressing bias, discrimination, bullying and harassment, each initiative must be tailored to individual and institutional needs," said Michael J. Mack, MD, MACC, co-chair of the health policy statement. "Medical and professional societies have a unique role in setting standards of excellence and acting as influencers to drive change in building safe and healthy work cultures." 

- This press release was originally published on the American College of Cardiology website