The Dean of the Faculty of General Dental Practice (FGDP(UK)), Ian Mills, has called for the leaderships of dental organisations to better reflect the diversity of the profession.
Ian Mills, Dean of FGDP(UK)
In an address to Faculty members and professional leaders at the FGDP(UK) Annual Dinner and Awards, he said dental leaders have a “moral obligation” to ensure that their organisations “support social justice through a culture and environment of inclusivity”.
He described as “unacceptable” the persistence of “many barriers which intimidate and inhibit certain individuals from engaging with dental organisations”, and said that the best way to change perceptions and encourage engagement was by ensuring diversity of gender, age and ethnicity within Boards at both national and local level.
Outlining the opportunity, he said diversity “modulates attitudes and behaviours, undermines ‘group-think’, and delivers improved performance within an organization”. He continued, “Social and professional diversity reflects the diversity within our profession, and can provide insight into the different views, attitudes and beliefs which may exist. This is a healthy environment which can stimulate discussion, debate and reflection, and in turn, provides a degree of internal accountability. We need diversity to understand the changing needs of our profession, to connect with new members and ensure that we continue to be relevant.”
Ian Mills’ address at the FGDP(UK) Annual Dinner, 12 March 2020
Giving the example of students and early careers dentists, he said that as Dean he “can try to understand the challenges they face and what they need and want from the FGDP, but in reality, it is simply my interpretation. The different groups within dentistry need to have a voice”.
Dr Mills said this was “particularly true of women in dentistry”. He noted that when he was elected to the Faculty Board in 2003, there was only one female board member out of 30 (3.3%), and that while this had improved to 6 out of 16 today (38%), the board remained “a male dominated environment” at a time when “there are more female undergraduates than male, and the number of women on the dental register exceeds the number of men.”
He added that FGDP(UK) and the British Dental Association would be announcing details of a joint symposium on diversity in dental organisations, with a particular focus on gender balance, in due course.