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American Academy of Dermatology Upholds Diversity Policies in Face of Anti-DEI Proposal


A vote during the annual meeting will keep DEI initiatives in place and members are awaiting news on what those initiatives will look like.

In a vote during the 2024 American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Annual Meeting, members chose to maintain its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies, rejecting a proposal that aimed to dismantle the existing initiatives. The AAD confirmed in an email to Dermatology Times that the resolution to retain the current DEI efforts came after a thorough examination of the potential impact on the field of dermatology and healthcare at large. Seemal R. Desai, MD, FAAD, was just elected AAD president1 and has previously released academic articles on the importance of creating a culture of equity and inclusion, which noted that “the racial diversification seen in the general population has not been reflected in medical schools, particularly more competitive medical specialties, including dermatology.”2


The original resolution, posted in February, stated, “Since October 7, there have been instances where the DEI movement has been perceived as being filled with antisemitism, weaponizing the concept against Jews by labeling them as ‘oppressors’ and allegedly justifying extreme hate speech and violence,” the resolution stated. “Judaism is a religion, culture and race that does not inherently fit within the DEI framework of oppressor and oppressed classes, and many Jews do not fit within the preconceived racial categories, challenging the binary system DEI promotes.” Resolution authors also stated that “DEI in its current form is seen to foster division rather than unity.”

Conversations in San Diego

Meena Signh, MD, posted an Instagram video during AAD showing several Black dermatologists saying, "We belong here."

Meena Signh, MD, posted an Instagram video during AAD showing several Black dermatologists saying, "We belong here."

On the first day of AAD, several Black dermatologists voiced their concerns over the resolution titled “Sunsetting All DEI Programs” introduced by Brian Raphael, MD, FAAD, of Empire Dermatology in Syracuse, New York, and co-signed by nearly 100 other physicians. InanInstagram videoposted by Meena Signh, MD, dermatologist and Mohs surgeon in Kansas,with more than 2500 likes showing several of her colleagues, she said, “Instead of enjoying our annual derm meeting in peace, we spent the first day fighting for the future of the field!Dermatology is one of the least diverse, most competitive fields of medicine.It does not adequately educate its trainees to provide care for patients of all skin/hair types.Our patients share how they have been told by some of their dermatologists, they do not feel comfortable treating them due to the color of their skin and/or texture of their hair.Yet, there are many who want programs/policies to address these issues eradicated! Even more insulting, somestated that allowing more underrepresented minorities into dermatology may lower standards for patient care. Clearly, they forgot how patient care for those with skin of color is already not great in this field.We are tired of fighting to prove that #WEBELONGHERE.

The Skin of Color Society (SOCS) continues to promote unwavering support of DEI efforts in dermatology. In fact, SOCS just hosted keynote speaker Aletha Maybank, MD, MPH, chief health equity officer at the American Medical Association (AMA), during its annual scientific symposium. Equity is top of mind for Maybeck and thousands of other health care providers on the heels of several recent news events including the Johns Hopkins Medicine chief stepping down after the backlash over her definition of privilege2a Texas government official prioritizing ban DEI initiatives one of his priorities3, and the University of Florida eliminating its DEI office.4

What’s Next

In a statement about the vote to Dermatology Times, AAD said, "At its May meeting, the Boards of Directors will determine whether to adopt, reject the resolution in whole or in part, or to refer the resolution to a council, committee, or task force of the Academy for further exploration...The American Academy of Dermatology’s commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and access to quality care for all is part of our Strategic Plan. The Academy is also committed to an environment in which our members, employees, and strategic partners feel welcome, included, and understood. We celebrate diversity in all forms including, but not limited to, religious, ethnic, cultural, gender, and racial identities and aim to improve disparities in health care. We are ardent opponents of any form of antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-Asian hate, and racism of any kind."

The academy’s diversity resource page offers pathways to increase the number of dermatologists in underrepresented minorities, opens doors for mentorship, and provides materials to enhance cultural competency. The academy still has the 2021-2023 diversity plan posted, which outlined strategies to promote DEI within AAD, ensure dermatologic education to encompass health disparities and skin of color, advocate health inequities, and more.

What are your thoughts on the current state of DEI initiatives in dermatology? We would love your insight. Email DTEditor@mmhgroup.com.


  1. American Academy of Dermatology installs new officers, board members. American Academy of Dermatology. March 8, 2024. Accessed March 11, 2024. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/american-academy-of-dermatology-installs-new-officers-board-members-302082493.html
  2. Desai SR, Khanna R, Glass D, et al. Embracing diversity in dermatology: Creation of a culture of equity and inclusion in dermatology. Int J Womens Dermatol. 2021;7(4):378-382. Published 2021 Aug 5. doi:10.1016/j.ijwd.2021.08.002
  3. Price L. Johns Hopkins Medicine chief diversity officer steps down after viral backlash over “privilege” definition. Baltimore Sun. March 6, 2024. Accessed March 7, 2024. https://www.baltimoresun.com/2024/03/06/johns-hopkins-diversity-officer/.
  4. Confessore N. “America is under attack”: inside the anti-D.E.I. crusade. The New York Times. January 20, 2024. Accessed March 7, 2024. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2024/01/20/us/dei-woke-claremont-institute.html.
  5. University of Florida eliminates all DEI positions due to new state law. 6abc Philadelphia. March 4, 2024. Accessed March 7, 2024. https://6abc.com/university-of-florida-diversity-and-inclusion-dei-uf/14489690/#:~:text=University%20of%20Florida%20eliminates%20all%20DEI%20positions%20due%20to%20new%20state%20law&text=diversity%20officer%20position-,The%20University%20of%20Florida%20is%20eliminating%20its%20chief%20diversity%20officer,by%20Republican%20Gov.%20Ron%20DeSantis.
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