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When it comes to promoting the importance of long and healthy lives, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), a population health research organization based at the University of Washington School of Medicine, is dedicated to using its global research data to inform policy and practice worldwide.

Part of delivering on their vision is by making their research accessible. Laurent Grosvenor, IHME’s inaugural chief diversity officer, helps guide the Institute’s research practices.

Who is Laurent Grosvenor? 

Grosvenor joined IHME in 2021 as part of the organization’s ongoing commitment to promoting equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in concrete ways. With a diverse background that spans different cultures and continents, Grosvenor’s personal experiences have inspired his involvement in the field of EDI.

“My mother is from the Caribbean, my father is from Africa and I was born and raised in England,” Grosvenor says. “I pursued higher education in the United States, and coming here for college was a transformative period of disciplined learning.” 

As an international student attending a Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in the United States, Grosvenor had to navigate new cultural landscapes. “This experience deepened my understanding of the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion efforts. My mission now is to cultivate a sense of belonging in the workplace and collaborate with teams to ensure that EDI goes beyond surface-level efforts and transcends borders.”

While health data and metrics were not initially part of Grosvenor’s plans, he quickly recognized their global significance in decision-making for the benefit of the world. Embracing IHME’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, Grosvenor was attracted to the opportunity to collaborate with numerous talented individuals within the organization.

Becoming the chief diversity officer of IHME

In 2021, the role of chief diversity officer was new to IHME, but Grosvenor found alignment with the goals and vision already in place.

“IHME’s global commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion was evident from my initial introduction to their work,” says Grosvenor. “IHME strives to contribute to the resolution of global health challenges through science and global partnerships. Being involved in any capacity is a tremendous honor for me.”

In addition, he says the role was attractive because it presented an opportunity to collaborate with numerous brilliant individuals within the organization, which influenced his decision.

“As I interviewed and delved deeper into the organization, I became convinced that IHME was not merely focused on performative EDI actions, but genuinely aimed to create an internal and external impact,” says Grosvenor. 

The importance of EDI in research

“Diversity and inclusion in research facilitate a broader range of perspectives, leading to enhanced insight, innovation and problem-solving,” says Grosvenor. “Various viewpoints unveil multiple possibilities and outcomes.” 

Grosvenor highlights that different regions around the world manifest diversity in unique ways, and embracing diverse life experiences allows researchers to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced by communities worldwide. Effective collaboration in healthcare data and research also requires cultural sensitivity to facilitate communication and learning from others.

“Also, effective collaboration in healthcare data and research necessitates cultural sensitivity to adequately communicate and learn from others,” he says.

EDI successes and the vision for IHME

“The EDI work at IHME is firmly rooted in four pillars: objectivity, belonging, voice and growth. These pillars serve as the foundation for our strategic direction, which revolves around six key motifs — data acquisition, communication, recruitment, expansion, research and employee experience,” says Grosvenor.

Grosvenor and his team, alongside additional teams at IHME that work closely with the EDI team, have already made several accomplishments in their consistent efforts toward these pillars, including launching and administering IHME’s first diversity survey, instituting EDI research KPIs, and will soon complete an EDI curriculum that will serve as a resource to all at IHME.”

The team is also providing additional support and resources for IHME employees, including meetings with new employees at their 60-day mark to check in on their needs and comfort level, two dedicated days to focus on equity issues or participate in the community and increased training and workshops in subjects such as intersectionality, unconscious bias and more.

Above all, Grosvenor celebrates the level of support he’s received from IHME leadership that’s making it possible to achieve their future goals. 

“I’ve personally witnessed a consistent level of support leadership at IHME since my arrival in 2021,” says Grosvenor. “Our commitment to EDI is evident in various aspects, including ensuring a more diverse leadership team, our commitment to supporting remote colleagues, having all teams establish their own EDI goals, and our director, Chris Murray, engaging with every employee resource group.”

Plus, Grosvenor is helping to implement EDI approaches from a global perspective. For example, EDI in the US looks different than EDI in Brazil. The conversations around equity and inclusion in South Africa are dissimilar from the conversations in France. Furthermore, how you approach a conversation with an individual may be quite different depending on which country you are engaging with.

“At IHME, we prioritize equipping our colleagues with the necessary understanding of these differences as an integral part of our work, and ongoing training and conversations encompass topics such as cultural sensitivity will continue to be offered.”

Most importantly, Grosvenor says, “Fundamentally, empathy plays a pivotal role in IHME’s EDI work. Through empathy, the organization fosters an environment where laughter, tears, and jubilation are acknowledged, recognizing that this work cannot be done without continuous empathy.