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A culture of inclusivity

The AAD takes diversity, equity, and inclusion seriously and so do our industry partners


By Dean Monti, Managing Editor, Special Publications, November 1, 2021

Banner for a culture of inclusivity

The AAD strives for a diverse and inclusive environment where all its members have opportunities that enable them to succeed and thrive. Additionally, the Academy is committed to ensuring quality medical care for all patients regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. To make this a reality, the Academy recognizes that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the dermatology specialty must be a top priority. 

The AAD’s industry partners have also aligned themselves to these same DEI values, recognizing that it is only as a unified force that we can effect real change. DermWorld recently reached out to the AAD’s industry partners to get their perspectives on the importance of DEI within their companies. In this special feature, we highlight some of the AAD partners that join the AAD in its efforts to create more inclusivity and a better environment. Within these statements from industry there is a consistent message of hope and an enduring commitment for a world of inclusivity.


Chudy Nduaka, Abbvie
Chudy Nduaka, DVM, PhD, DABT, Therapeutic Area Head, Dermatology, US Medical Affairs, AbbVie
Since its inception, AbbVie has embraced diversity and inclusion. Treating everyone with dignity and respect is one of the company’s core principles. Following the murder of George Floyd, AbbVie’s CEO and Chairman Richard A. Gonzalez called on the company’s approximately 48,000 employees to reflect on how they can improve as a company and society to embrace inclusion and reject racism and bias.

AbbVie met the call to action internally and externally by clearly expressing our perspective and commitments and appointing a Chief Equity Officer to drive company-wide change and awareness. The company took deliberate steps to ensure it leads by example in promoting racial equity. AbbVie committed to creating immediate opportunities and delivering sustainable, meaningful impact to advance racial justice, education, and health equity through a $55 million investment with national and local nonprofits including: 

  • $5 million to NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) to address issues in our criminal justice system. 

  • $50 million to promote health and education equity for Black and other historically underserved communities across the United States in collaboration with six nonprofit partners. 

In September 2020, Allergan Aesthetics, an AbbVie company, and Skinbetter Science® announced the launch of a new long-term, educational initiative — DREAM: Driving Racial Equity in Aesthetic Medicine™. Case studies and data relevant to darker skin tones are grossly underrepresented in current educational materials and textbooks, which can lead to under- or misdiagnoses for Black and Brown patients. The DREAM Initiative™ aims to bridge this gap and further the principles of racial and ethnic diversity, inclusion, respect, and understanding in dermatology and plastic surgery.  

Finally, AbbVie recently provided a grant to support the AAD’s initiatives to foster diversity in dermatology and develop strategies to increase dermatologic services to underserved populations.


Tamika Jean-Baptiste, Amgen
Tamika Jean-Baptiste, Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, Amgen
We’re extremely proud of the progress we’ve made in diversifying our workforce and increasing women and minority representation at the highest levels of the company. Globally, more than 40% of our executives and senior managers are women; women also comprise 25% of our Board of Directors. Within the U.S., minorities represent over 50% of our workforce and 40% of our management-level positions. 

We’ve also widened the funnel of diverse talent entering our pipeline by funding the Amgen Educational Fellowship with Howard University, one of the nation’s largest HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) and by expanding STEM education for students of color through Amgen Foundation programs such as LabXchange and the Amgen Biotech Experience. Amgen is also a founding member of the OneTen coalition to create one million jobs for Black Americans over the next 10 years. 

But it is our success in promoting inclusion and belonging that allows us to harness the growing diversity of our workforce. In acknowledgment of this progress, Forbes continues to cite Amgen among its Best Employers for Diversity, and the Corporate Equality Index gives us a perfect score. 

Our commitment to equity extends well beyond our walls to the communities we serve. Last year, Amgen Foundation donated $7.5 million to national and local social justice causes. 

At Amgen, we believe our differences lead to better science. That’s our way of solving the biggest health challenges. Our success as a biotech pioneer absolutely depends on our ability to leverage diverse insights to innovate therapies for every demographic worldwide. 

We unlock the innovative potential of our diverse workforce by fostering a culture of belonging where diversity is celebrated, and inclusion is the norm. 


Tom Cavanaugh, Janssen Biotech
Tom Cavanaugh, President, Immunology U.S., Janssen, the Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson and Johnson
Across Johnson & Johnson and Janssen, we recognize we have a critical opportunity to expand and accelerate our commitment and momentum to address racial and social injustices in communities of color. The Company has committed $100 million over the next five years to invest and promote health equity solutions rooted in three areas: 1) cultivating one of the most diverse and inclusive workforces in the industry; 2) helping to close the racial mortality gap by investing in culturally competent community care models that create health outcomes for people of color; and 3) leading and leveraging J&J’s powerful partnership network to combat racial and social health determinants by creating enduring alliances. 

At Janssen Biotech, we are committed to listen, learn, and lead efforts to help eliminate health inequities — from our research and clinical trials to ensuring broader access and quality of care. Within Janssen Immunology, we are relentlessly advancing care for those living with immune-mediated diseases, which evidence has shown can be more difficult to manage for communities of color. In the field of dermatology, we are exploring collaborative partnerships with the AAD, National Psoriasis Foundation, and Skin of Color Society around health inequities that exist to build meaningful action plans. 

Inside our walls, we have taken critical steps to advance our culture of inclusion and innovation by accelerating inclusive leadership behaviors and cultural competencies through immersion and conscious inclusion training programs. We have implemented workforce equity initiatives that embed transparency, accountability, and performance-based incentives within operations and have committed to race, ethnicity, and gender goals at manager and above levels. 

We look forward to coming together with others in the health care ecosystem to drive meaningful change, which is why we are committed to and accountable for helping to eradicate racial and social justice as a public health threat. 

AAD efforts embrace broad view of diversity

Like the many corporate partners whose efforts are profiled in this article, the American Academy of Dermatology is committed to fostering a diverse specialty in the broadest sense, welcoming and including dermatologists of different ages, races, sexual orientations and gender identities, practice modalities, and geographic areas into all its educational activities and its governance structure. 

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) plan and initiatives, approved by the AAD’s Board of Directors in August 2020 are focused on specific gaps directly related to the Academy’s “Access to dermatologic care” strategic goal, which is part of the AAD’s Strategic Plan. This goal states “patients have access to excellent dermatologic care at the right time and place.” These gaps in medical and dermatologic care largely impact Black, Brown, and Indigenous people. It follows that the initiatives to advance these goals are largely focused on racial and ethnic minorities, particularly those who are underserved as patients and under-represented in the physician workforce. The Academy’s DEI efforts strive to ensure all dermatologists are equipped to provide the best possible care to all patients by identifying and addressing barriers to access and care; improving professional and patient education on skin of color; and increasing the pipeline of underrepresented minorities in the physician workforce as evidence shows they are more likely to provide care to underserved populations, and because diverse perspectives advance excellence in care.

In 2021, the AAD has embarked on several targeted efforts to foster diversity. These include:

Soliciting nominations for two new named lectureships. The John Kenney Jr., MD, Lifetime Achievement Award and Lectureship, debuting at the 2022 Annual Meeting, will recognize outstanding dermatologists who throughout their career have been committed to improving the treatment of patients from underserved populations including skin of color patients. The A. Paul Kelly, MD, Research Award and Lectureship, debuting at the 2022 Innovation Academy Meeting, will recognize outstanding dermatologists who throughout their career have been committed to researching issues associated with skin of color and improving dermatologic care for patients.

Continuing to support the Diversity Champion Workshop. This annual event brings together dermatology faculty to discuss diversity outreach programs and initiatives, exchange ideas, and share success stories.

Developing an online skin of color curriculum. This new member benefit will be housed in the AAD’s online education portal and offer members CME.

Offering a Diversity Mentorship Program. This program offers hands-on exposure to underrepresented medical students who are interested in learning more about the specialty of dermatology through a one-on-one mentorship experience with a dermatologist of the student’s choice.

Learn more about the AAD’s diversity efforts.


Roberto Khoury, Neutrogena
Roberto Khoury, Senior Vice President, Skin Health West & Neostrata, Neutrogena
DEI is a core part of who we are as Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health. It is because of our commitment to DEI that we continue to make strides in our efforts to serve diverse consumers. We recently partnered with Johnson & Johnson Innovation for the Black Innovator Skin Health QuickFire Challenge, which offered the opportunity for U.S.-based Black innovators to receive funding to continue to advance science for skin and scalp solutions dedicated to people of color. This program was ideated and brought to life by Black employees with a strong passion to support innovation among the Black community.

Internally, one of the most successful initiatives is the BIPOC Advisory Council, a collective of diverse employees that help guide thinking around inclusive insights, science, consumer perception, and more. The group partners to support innovation and marketing efforts to acutely address the needs of multicultural consumers. The BIPOC Advisory Council has enabled the successful development and execution of many skin health launches.

By ensuring a diverse workforce, we’ve been able to unlock innovative ways to address disparities in skin health. We remain focused on cultivating a diverse and inclusive workforce that inspires innovative health care solutions around the world. The BIPOC Advisory Council and Black Innovators Skin Health QuickFire challenge are just two examples of those efforts. As part of the larger Johnson & Johnson portfolio, the brand is also enhancing HR processes to optimize how we access, hire, and develop talent, and is offering cultural immersion programs to enhance awareness and understanding to foster diverse talent and elevate voices across the company. While we work every day to create a diverse and inclusive workplace, we are committed to do more. Our promise is to continue to listen, speak up, and change for the betterment of the health and wellness of our society.


Richard Lajoie, Ortho Dermatologics
Richard Lajoie, Vice President and General Manager, Ortho Dermatologics
As part of Bausch Health Companies, a key component of our commitment to operate with integrity at Ortho Dermatologics is to value and promote diversity and inclusion, which has long been part of our company’s DNA. We follow the company’s Diversity, Equality & Inclusion (DEI) strategy to further accelerate this work and grow our DEI culture, as well as foster employee well-being and care for our communities. 

Some of the efforts we have taken recently include our ongoing involvement and support of organizations such as the American Academy of Dermatology, Skin of Color Society, and the Women’s Dermatologic Society. 

We also offer several employee resource groups (ERGs). These ERGs include the Women’s Leadership Network, the African Heritage Network, the Black and African Heritage Network, and the Asia and Pacific Islands Network. These voluntary, company-sponsored groups are key partners in our company’s efforts to create an inclusive work environment. 

In 2020, we further solidified our position on DEI as we joined in solidarity with organizations and communities throughout the United States and around the world to stand against racism. In honor of Juneteenth in 2020 and the celebration of organizations that empower access and achievement with the Black community, we made a donation to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), the nation’s largest organization exclusively representing the Black College Community. 

We also made a donation to The International Center for Professional Development’s 2021 Scientist Mentoring and Diversity Program for Medical Technology, which pairs ethnically diverse students and early-career researchers with industry mentors across the medical technology, biotechnology, and consumer health care industries. 

Our employees have also been provided with a variety of educational tools and resources so they can better understand how to talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion and to take actions to develop a more inclusive and respectful work environment. 

Ortho Dermatologics’ DEI activities are helping our employees become more aware of — and question — personal unconscious biases, and to teach us how to better become allies and advocates who work together to create a more open community within our company and in the world. 


Ehab Mahgoub, Pfizer
Ehab Mahgoub, MD, MSC, Vice President North America Medical Affairs Lead, Inflammation & Immunology, Pfizer Inc.
At Pfizer, equity is a core value, whereby we believe every patient deserves to be seen, heard, and cared for. 

In the past year, we’ve made great strides toward this mission through the work of our Multicultural Health Equity Collective (Collective) and the diversification efforts to ensure equitable representation in the COVID-19 clinical trials.  

The Collective and its partner organizations have worked to educate and raise confidence in clinical trial participation and encourage enrollment across diverse communities. As a result, Pfizer enrolled 46,331 participants in 153 trials worldwide, with 42% (30% in the U.S.) of participants having a diverse background. 

Additionally, the Collective’s partnership with the Pfizer Foundation and organizations such as Take Action for Health, Dia de la Mujer Latina, The National Medical Association, and The National Black Nurses Association have helped impact the perception of one’s health, levels of motivation to take action on health, clinical trial participation, and address health care disparities. 

Pfizer recognizes that while skin diseases occur in all racial and ethnic groups, people of color may be disproportionately affected due to differences in prevalence, appearance, disease severity, and access to care/treatments leading to health care disparities.  

Pfizer is committed to supporting the dermatology community’s ongoing work to address the inequities people of color face in health care. A few examples of our efforts include supporting fellowship programs to help increase diversity within the specialty; supporting research and educational grants to further the science and education around treating skin diseases in patients of color; expanding the diversity in our clinical trials; and providing equitable access to medicines. Through these initiatives, Pfizer hopes to continue bringing awareness and improving upon the care of all patients with dermatology conditions.