article September 7, 2023

Dissecting DEI & Where We Went Wrong: Part Two, Inclusion

In this three-part series, Javara Director, DEI & Community Engagement Ashley C Moultrie, CCRP dissects the acronym “DEI” to illuminate how many of the definitions circulating in our modern society fall short, or at times, lead us entirely astray. Using the analogy below, Ashley walks us through each stage of meaning and what we can do to increase our understanding.


Diversity is being invited into the boardroom; Inclusion is being given a seat at the table; Equity is how justly you’re treated during the conversations happening therein.


Part Two, Inclusion

Consider, for a moment, that you live differently than the western majority. And perhaps you do – maybe you are a woman, or a person of color. Maybe you rely on supportive devices for mobility or independence. But if none of these are your truth, I encourage you at this moment to place yourself in the imaginary shoes of such individuals.

Now, as the result of recent efforts to increase representation in all facets of clinical research (see: Part One: Diversity), we have – as minorities –been invited into the boardroom. Diversity, check. But we cannot have diversity without Inclusion, and so still we wonder: Have we been invited to join the conversation, or just to check a box? Do we have a seat at the table?


It is crucial here to understand that the question isn’t whether we have anything to say; we all do. The question is whether you – as members of the majority or people in positions of power (and often both) – are ready to listen.

Will you allow me to share my perspectives as I share my lived experience? Perhaps more importantly, will you believe me? Will you help elevate my voice in a space where historically I had been silenced? Say I am a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Will you seek my opinion when developing new organizational policies, and not only as a spokesperson for Pride Month?

Every day, our organizations make vital decisions that dictate not only the trajectory of the business, the industry, and the care we provide, but also the future and experiences of every single individual therein.

Inclusion requires us to reevaluate how we approach decisions, and how we deploy the outcomes. And this extends beyond our companies and professionals to also include the patient engagement and recruitment efforts we employ and the clinical trial experience we provide.

“We must improve health equity,” they say. And I do not disagree. But what does that mean? And how do we get there? We must begin with Inclusion. We must elevate these historically silenced voices, early and often. Then and only then – armed with the appropriate tools and understanding – can we turn to Equity.