AORN's DEI Committees

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the Perioperative Community

In our commitment to strive for continuous improvement, AORN believes there are opportunities to strengthen the value of diversity, equity and inclusion in our workplace and in our association. AORN is dedicated to building a diverse team, fostering an inclusive culture and investing in equity across our organization. We are also committed to incorporating our DEI principles into our work with our members, facilities, industry partners and our community.

Mission: Created new DEI Committee, LGBTQ+ Advisory Group, to help bridge any gaps and identify opportunities to ensure LGBTQ+ is represented in AORN's DEI efforts.

In 2021:

  • LGBTQ+ Listening Session: Held inaugural LGBTQ+ Listening Session with Executives, Leaders, and Staff in June. 118 HQ staff attended the session.
  • Key Initiatives: Advisory Group met to identify objectives and initiatives for 2021. Audited AORN imagery to be inclusive of LGBTQ+, identified areas to be more accessible and met with internal DEI Committees to identify growth opportunities in 2022.

Mission: To fulfill the AORN Foundation mission through initiatives representing the community we serve.

  • Scholarships: Academic Scholarships awarded represent the community it serves.
  • Foundation Board of Trustees: Increase diversity on the AORN Foundation Board of Trustees.

In 2021:

  • Barba Edwards Scholarship: Established Barba Edwards Named Scholarship to honor AORN’s first African American president. Over $50k raised towards scholarship (exceeded $25k fundraising goal). Established endowment in addition to the named scholarship (4 scholars awarded for 2021 year). To donate visit AORN Foundation Donation and note that you would like your donation to go toward the Barba Edwards Scholarship.
  • Race Included on Foundation Scholarship & Professional Development Grant Applications: Race included on Foundation Scholarship & Professional Development Grant applications. Representation of Sep academic class (62% White / Caucasian; 38% People of Color).
  • Annual Board Survey & Trustee Statement: Annual Board survey completed; statement added to the Trustee Prospect Criteria: AORN and The AORN Foundation pledge to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion in healthcare. Based on this commitment, we support diversity and the participation of underrepresented individuals in the Board of Trustee nomination process.

Mission: Increase DEI awareness for the board of directors and increase the diversity of candidates running for the board of directors and the nomination committee.

In 2021:

  • DEI Board & National Committees: Created DEI Board and 2021 DEI Member Committee to increase diversity of nominations on the ballot for national office and for serving on committees / task forces. Due to committee efforts to increase interest, AORN saw a record number of diverse candidates eligible for nominations on the 2021 ballot (on 2021 ballot, 15.8% candidates were of color).
  • AORN Board / National Ballot Diversity: Increased diversity of AORN national candidates from 7.1% in 2020 to 15.8% in 2021 (+8 points). Increased diversity of AORN Board from 16.7% in 2020 to 25% in 2021 (+8 points).
  • 2022 Nomination Process: 2nd Nominating Committee is continuing to assess the 2022 nomination process, as part of the overall work on advancing DEI efforts.

Mission: Develop and implement community activities impacting people of color and the LGBTQ+ community, in Denver, AORN's national chapters and at Expo.

In 2021:

  • Orlando Backpack Drive: Donated 600 boxes of backpacks / school supplies to two Orlando elementary schools serving underprivileged Latinos. Doubled original goal.
  • Chapter Pilot Program: Based on success of AORN Local Food Drive in 2020, created a playbook to scale to AORN chapters. 2021 focused on chapter pilot.
  • Local Community Food Drive: 2nd Annual Food Drive provided meals to 800 people. 200 boxes of food were donated to 2 schools in lower income and diverse communities. Each box included 4-6 meals and a $25 grocery gift card.
  • Video Clips Library: Developed game plan to create a video clips library to increase representation of diversity in nursing. Postponed to 2022 Expo.

Mission: To improve the care, experience and outcomes of each patient as it relates to DEI by providing relevant information, education and resources to the perioperative team.

In 2021:

  • DEI Position Statement & Technical Paper: Created DEI position statement on Health Care Equity and Racial Justice, which was approved by the Board and membership in 1Q 2022. DEI tech paper submitted to the AORN Journal.
  • Information & Publications: Published numerous articles and special issues in AORN Journal and Outpatient Surgery Magazine to raise awareness of DEI and provide education on topics.
  • Perioperative Education: Pfiedler updated learning modules for healthcare disparity and created an unconscious bias booklet that can be used by members. Content now multi-channel.
  • DEI at AORN Events: AORN’s major events in 2021 included DEI topics (Leaders Edge Forum, Expo, OR Excellence, and Periop Reset). DEI poster at Expo.
  • DEI Website: Contributed DEI resources and education content and resources for the new DEI website (collaboration across multiple teams at AORN to develop content).


  • Membership Diversity: AORN membership continues to reflect HRSA/Census/Community.
  • Membership Diversity Training: Raise DEI awareness and provide training and development resources for members.

In 2021:

  • Membership Diversity: More than 17k members have identified race on application since it was added in 2020. Approx. 26% of members identify as people of color.
  • DEI Board Webinar: AORN Board Members Nakeisha Archer and Darlene Murdock presented a DEI Webinar: “Reflections: AORN History of Diversity”. This was presented in the February 2021 Chapter Leader Town Hall, Bulletin and to AORN Staff.
  • Awareness, Education: Added diversity topics to Periop Reset and Expo to enhance DEI member awareness and education. Added a DEI component to the AORN Recruitment & Retention Toolkit.

Mission: To achieve a diverse workforce reflective of the community we serve.

In 2021:

  • Staff Diversity: Overall increase since DEI inception in 2020: Staff (12% to 15%); Directors (11% to 15%); Nursing (0% to 9%). Improved diversity of hiring (12% to 20%).
  • Emerging Leader Program: Launched new Emerging Leader program to increase leadership candidates of color (8 total; 2 of color). Pilot program complete.
  • Pay Equity Audit: Completed Pay Equity Audit & adjustments designed to improve and ensure equity at AORN.
  • Awareness and Education: Conducted staff education, awareness, & listening sessions (Staff Training, Asian and LGBTQ+ listening sessions, & monthly awareness campaigns).
  • Improving DEI at AORN: Partnered with Employers Council to conduct DEI survey and focus groups with HQ staff in Q4.

Getting to Know Your LGBTQ+ Patient

Dr. Julian Sanchez from Moffitt Cancer Center joined AORN for a live webinar to highlight how you can make a positive difference in providing culturally sensitive and safe care to LGBTQ+ patients.
James L. Cousin II, CPA, MBA, the AORN CFO and Chief Diversity Officer, presents the 2022 year-end highlights of the AORN Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative to the House of Delegates at the 2023 AORN Annual Conference and Expo. Check out our DEI album on Facebook.
To help Chapters fulfill their Accountability Standards, we've developed a playbook outlining the steps for running a successful food drive campaign for their own community.