World Veterinary Day 2023
Promoting Diversity, Equity and Inclusiveness in the Veterinary Profession

K Rashbehari Singh *

The World Veterinary Day, 2023 will be celebrated on the 29th April, 2023 globally on the theme of ‘Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in the veterinary profession,’ to advocate for fairness and equity of the efforts from veterinarians, veterinary associations and others.

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a term used to describe policies and programmes that promote the representation and participation of different groups of individuals, including people of different ages, races and ethnicities, abilities and disabilities, genders, cultures and sexual orientations. People with diverse backgrounds, experiences, skills and expertise are also included in the programme. DEI initiatives are increasingly common in workplaces as the benefits of instituting them in work places become clearer.


Diversity involves all the ways that people are different, the different characteristics that make one group or individual different from another. Diversity includes race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, gender identity, religion, language, age, marital status, veteran status, mental ability, physical ability and people with disabilities.

A range of ideas, perspectives and values may also be included in the classification of diversity. Diversity is acknowledging that each voice of each person is unique. Real diversity requires a deeper understanding of each person. Diversity creates a workforce with a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences.


Equity refers to fair and just practices that ensure access, resources, and opportunities are provided for all to succeed and grow. Equality aims to give everyone the same opportunities in order to be successful whether they need it or not, whereas equity gives people what they need to be successful.

In the workplace equity acknowledges that we’re all different and those differences make everyone great. Companies that adopt equity practices don’t establish one-size-fit-all policies. They take individual needs into consideration, while also readjusting organizational structures to account for the disadvantages faced by the minority groups.


Inclusion is defined as the practice of nurturing and creating an environment where people feel welcomed, comfortable, respected, supported, and valued to participate fully. An inclusive work environment aims to get all employees to participate and contribute. It also endeavors to remove all barriers, discrimination and intolerance. Inclusion is about giving all employees the opportunity to voice their opinions so that they don’t feel excluded based on their identities and enabling them to see themselves reflected in their organization’s value.

Belonging is feeling valued, respected, supported, and empowered in professional, educational, and personal endeavors. It has been said that “Diversity is a fact, equity is a choice, inclusion is an action, belonging is an outcome, and justice is a goal”.


Veterinary medicine lacks diversity, and this poses a threat to the long-term relevance of the profession. To increase diversity in the veterinary workforce, collective initiatives should be directed at recruiting and encouraging a more diverse pool of qualified applicants seeking veterinary school admission.

Socio-economic disparities, perception of poor career incentives, negative images of working with animals, insufficient knowledge of these careers, non-supportive environments, limited or negative experiences around animals, racial discrimination, prejudice and active exclusion are the reasons for a lack of minority interest in many animal related careers.

Investment should be done in developing pipelines of veterinary talent that will ultimately result in a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive profession. For the veterinary profession to thrive and have relevant impacts on animal health, human health, and conservation, initiatives towards a more diverse workforce should be accelerated.


Diversity of students, faculty, and staff has a positive influence on the educational process and contributes substantially to the quality of programmes and graduates. Diversity among members of the veterinary professional community will result in a profession better able to respond to the varied and changing needs of the society. Having diverse viewpoints at all levels of an organization improves financial results, organizational and team performance, innovation and other areas of the business.

In a company, the benefits of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace extend more than feeling of welcome and supported. Companies/organizations where DEI policies are practiced are more creative and innovative as employees with different experiences, backgrounds and skills bring more ideas to the table compared with non-diverse workers. Further, employees working at companies that have strong DEI programmes are happier in their jobs, have more trust management and perform better. Benefits of diversity have also been documented in health care and education.


Biodiversity is all the different kinds of life found in one area–the variety of animals, plants, fungi, and even microorganisms like bacteria that make up our natural world. Each of these species and organisms work together in ecosystems (structural and functional unit of ecology where living organisms interact with each other and the surrounding environment), like an intricate web, to maintain balance and support life.

Biodiversity supports everything in nature that we need to survive: food, clean water, medicine, and shelter. The health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants, and the surrounding environment are closely linked and interdependent. Imbalance in a given ecosystem may cause zoonotic diseases and spread more rapidly to other animal species. Approximately 60% of known infectious diseases in people and 75% of all (re) emerging infectious diseases start in animals and spill over to people.

To ensure animal and plants have the environment for thriving and addressing urgent ecosystem health and conservation issues in our global interconnected communities, our organizations must embrace the policy of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.

More diverse organizations perform better and are better at solving complex problems. Barriers and factors such as climate change, disease, habitat destruction etc. contribute to loss of biodiversity and diversity within our organizations would likely improve our chances of identifying and implementing meaningful and enduring solutions to promote biodiversity and conservation. Disturbance of the delicate balance of ecosystem, whether natural or man-made, may cause loss of biodiversity.

To allow ecosystems to adjust to disturbances like natural disasters or man-made ones, genetic diversity is important. Genetic diversity fosters species adaptability to changes in their environment, increases resistance to disease and prevents diseases. There is greater likelihood that disease transmission and negative health consequences will occur when genetic diversity decreases.

Biodiversity also includes human diversity, and the better we understand how biodiversity helps maintain healthy ecosystems, the more we can see the benefits of human diversity within our organizations. It is important to understand the spectrum of diversity, such as gender, race, ethnicity, age etc., which are measurable. In an organization, failure to include the fullest spectrum of diversity in our own habitats, may lead to missing of important perspectives that will contribute to better solutions for organizational vibrancy.


Developing ethos of DEI in the organization : Form a committee consisting of board members, employees, and community members that keep DEI in the forefront of the organization’s mission and actions. People representing diverse backgrounds be recruited to the organization’s board to ensure leadership decisions are made considering multiple viewpoints and experiences.

Make sure the premises are welcoming and friendly to those with disabilities. Provide gender-neutral restrooms. Bring diverse audiences into exhibitions, programmes, and experiences to build a pipeline to the profession, including socio-economic diversity.

Integration of DEI in leadership development : Provide leadership development opportunities that ensure diverse employees are in the pipeline to assume leadership roles. Listen to the experiences of individuals who contribute every day by working on the front lines. Create internship opportunities for those who might not otherwise have access to gain experience and pay internees for their work. Establish structured mentoring opportunities to foster new talent, listen to under- represented voices, and create a leadership pipeline.

Creating a safe space : All of us have a unique story to tell on how our racial and gender identities, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and other visible and non-visible differences have shaped our lives, and we must share these stories with colleagues, friends, family, mentees and mentors alike. Here, by respecting and appreciating the differences, the value and strength of the team is enhanced.

By removing barriers to veterinary care, we can provide better medicine, increase adherence to treatment, and importantly, improve outcomes for pets. Honouring our similarities and differences creates an environment of understanding and mutuality, while simultaneously ensuring all patients receive the highest quality of possible care.

Training : Incorporate training into the mix of employees regarding importance of DEI, concepts of unconscious bias and provision of mechanisms for identifying and reporting or addressing issues. It makes the company’s/organization’s commitment clear and creates opportunities for introducing new policies that impact the workforce.

Hiring practices : For making a company progress, it is essential to have a hiring process that supports diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Review all the job descriptions. Use inclusive language, such as removal of all gendered terminology, so that no one feels unwelcomed to apply. Simplify admission process and prioritize accessibility. Use a ‘blind’ resume screening process, create standardized interview questions and use diverse hiring panels to reduce the impact of bias hiring practices. Finally, develop a candidate scoring system to track their performance.

Defined processes : Every employee will have the same chance to excel if the road to training, career-boosting projects, or promotions is clearly defined. This will reduce the thinking that some workers will be favoured over others, either intentionally or incidentally.

Maintenance of data : Maintaining performance data will help to identify the discrepancies of the various activities of the organization and to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. The performance of the company can be compared with other company for making necessary improvement and progress. This will create opportunities to make adjustments and achieve our goals.

Talking to workforce : Talk to workforce for notable DEI improvements. Gather information about their experience, hurdles, negative interactions, and find out what they need to be at their best. By doing so, we can become a facilitator for meaningful change.


The career scope of veterinary science is large and the profession offers multifaceted and ambitious career requiring highly flexible and resilient professionals. Despite many positive aspects of veterinary profession, the challenging socioeconomic and cultural working climate has been recognized as a source of veterinary mental well-being issues.

The mental health of the veterinary professionals is impacted by external factors such as personality traits, gender, socio-economic status of clientele, client interactions, performing convenience euthanasia, type of practice in veterinary field, unexpected outcomes, medical mistakes, responsibility of patient care etc.

Mental health well-being is also strongly associated with workplace antecedents including demands of practice, long hours, overload with work, workplace pressure (time per client, number of consults, time in surgery, number of phone calls), social isolation, not enough holidays etc. Unfavourable workplace factors are associated with reduced mental well-being, poor outcomes and lower appreciation for the job.


For ensuring a thriving modern veterinary profession, it is needed to raise awareness for inclusive profession, including increasing openness and acceptance to enhance DEI and destigmatising mental well-being challenges. When diversity, equity and inclusion is promoted and applied, the well-being of all veterinarians is enhanced.

* K Rashbehari Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Member, Manipur State Veterinary Council and
Retd Dy Director, Extension Education Central Agricultural University, Imphal
and can be contacted at konjengbam09(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on April 29 2023.

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