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Getting to Know the NBOME’s First Chief Diversity Officer

Maya Johnson has been the head of the NBOME’s HR department for over 8 years. This year, her role expanded; as of January 1, Johnson became the organization’s first-ever Chief Diversity Officer. Here, we speak to her about her new role and her plans for highlighting and strengthening the NBOME’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I).

When did conversations first begin about diversity efforts at the NBOME?
The NBOME has always supported diversity whether that is from a racial or ethnic standpoint, a gender standpoint, or a professional standpoint (such as DOs and MDs working together). But the events of summer 2020 really highlighted the fact that we as a society have much more work to do, and we have to be deliberate about that work. That’s when we as an organization gained momentum towards more tangible action.

We began by putting together small workgroups, facilitated by the HR department, to better understand the types of ideas, questions, and training needs staff have about cultivating an inclusive work environment.

That feedback was immensely helpful to us in planning several programs over the past two years that focus on the stories and perspectives of the different groups represented at the NBOME. For example, in 2021 we introduced our MLK Day of Reflection program to dedicate the workday to social awareness and personal reflection in honor of Dr. King’s legacy and hosted our first Juneteenth celebration to learn more about its history and traditions.  In response to “Stop AAPI Hate” efforts, we held employee group sessions to share experiences and show our support to each other.  We also promoted awareness of June as Pride Month, when the world’s LGBTQ communities come together and celebrate the freedom to be themselves.

The NBOME embarked on several organizational enhancements over the past year, and as this work continued, we saw a clear need emerging to have a formalized role helming this work at the senior leadership level.

Why put DE&I efforts under the purview of HR?
Through responsibilities such as EEO compliance, Title VII adherence, and others, HR already has a strong foundation to support those efforts. It’s something that is always top of mind for us, and our past work can translate over to our staff at large.

Do you have an idea of where you’d like to take the NBOME’s DE&I efforts?
Moving forward, we’ll be formalizing a DE&I Task Force structure to identify opportunities, further develop programs and outline specific deliverables in order to ensure our reach extends to our National Faculty, governance, and committee members.

Organizationally, our core values are being expanded to include a value statement solidifying our commitment to DE&I, and we have formed various workgroups across the organization that are implementing related initiatives.

Specific to HR, we are improving our processes related to employees’ abilities to self-identify personal demographic information. From a recruitment aspect, our talent sourcing strategy continues to evolve as we incorporate the use of new job posting sources and methods to widen our talent pool reach. We are also evaluating our benefit programs with our vendors to ensure we have a focus on relevancy and fair and equitable benefits offerings.

How do these DE&I efforts translate to our assessment products and services?
Our test development teams have gained a lot of momentum over the past several months in this area, working to ensure they are following best practices related to representation in test development. This is a part of the charge to the Special Commission on Osteopathic Medical Licensure Assessment. These efforts include evaluating test content for potential bias and expanding sources of test media in our assessments.

How do you feel being the organization’s very first chief diversity officer?

It is such an exciting opportunity to have a lead role in the ongoing development of our organizational DEI efforts. The NBOME has made great strides over the years to continue to be progressive in how we positively impact our staff, stakeholders, candidates, and the public in general.  The creation of a formal diversity-focused role is another demonstration of just how important these efforts are to the NBOME.

To learn more about NBOME’s DE&I efforts, or to suggest a program or topic, email MJohnson@nbome.org.