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

In 2023:

  • AORN Board/National Ballot Diversity: Increased diversity of AORN national candidates from 15.8% in 2021 to 31.6% (+16 points) in 2023.  Diversity on AORN Board remained at 25% in 2023. 
  • DEI Training and Awareness: Conducted training for Board & Nominating Committee in May 2023. 

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

  • Scholarships: Academic Scholarships awarded to people of color will meet or exceed membership diversity.
  • Foundation Board of Trustees: Increase diversity on the AORN Foundation Board of Trustees.

In 2023:

  • Barba Edwards Scholarship: 
    • Fully endowed the Barba Edwards Scholarship; Over $65K raised since inception;
    • Supported 4 nurses entering or returning to school with academic scholarships.
  • PRIDE Scholarship: Raised $4,000 for LGBTQ+ students in perioperative nursing.

To donate visit AORN Foundation Donation and note that you would like your donation to go toward the Barba Edwards or PRIDE Scholarship.

  • Foundation Scholarship & Professional Development Grants: 34% of Academic Scholarship recipients and 36% of Expo Grant recipients identify as nurses of color.
  • AORN Foundation Board: The AORN Foundation Board of Trustees continued to increase diversity.

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

In 2023: AORN and staff contributed over 205 volunteer hours and $38,100 in donations which affected more than 2,600 individuals in our communities.

  • Coat Drive: Donated 220 coats to One Nation, Walking Together which provides services to Native American communities in rural Colorado.
  • EXPO- Kind Clinic: Members were able to assemble more than 1,000 hygiene kits to benefit the San Antonio LGTBQ+ community.
  • Denver Pride 5k Run: 13 staff volunteered at the race to provide race support to 2,400 runners. 
  • Denver Scholarship Foundation: Three nursing career events for high school students of color (115 people); $10,000 donated scholarship funds (10 people). 
  • Backpack Donations: Donated 400 backpacks filled with school supplies for students at three primary schools in the Denver area.
  • Food Drive: Partnered with three schools to provide boxed meals for 900 individuals.


  • 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 2023:

  • Diverse Member Representation: Membership diversity grew to 30% (above 29.8% goal and 15% HRSA benchmark of 15% diversity).
  • Increasing Diverse Representation: Team explored new avenues to encourage nursing students of color to become perioperative nurses.
    • We also conducted a thorough review of the AORN Excellence Awards to ensure diverse representation among the selected recipients.
  • Research: We commenced the preparatory stages for our research on Racism in Perioperative Nursing, with the objective to explore its prevalence and devise strategic toolkits for our members and leaders to address racism and foster more inclusive work environments within the perioperative setting.

Mission: AORN is committed to building a diverse workforce and developing leaders and people to achieve their potential. We strive to promote an inclusive culture where all team members feel they are heard, valued, and accepted for their unique strengths and talents – and empowered to impact the lives of our members and the perioperative community. AORN has been recognized within the local community and on a national level for its continued commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). DEI is sponsored at the highest levels of the organization from the Board of Directors to the Executive and Leadership Teams.

  • AORN Staff Diversity: Since the launch of AORN’s DEI program in 2020, overall employee diversity has grown by more than 60%.
  • Strengthening Our Core Values and Inclusion: DEI has been integrated into AORN’s core values, business operations, and is one of the pillars in AORN’s strategic plan.
  • Career Growth and Equitable Opportunities: AORN has standardized the process for career growth and advancement and conducts regular pay equity audits. Launched new programs to support employee learning and professional development.
  • Education and Training: To foster a deeper understanding of other team members and culture, AORN honors diversity months through awareness and education campaigns and conducts regular DEI training with employees. Partnered with outside firms to engage employees on DEI and ensure progress.
  • Inclusion and Connection: Conducted listening sessions to engage and connect with staff on racial and social injustices. Launched innovative programs to support employees working in a hybrid / remote work environment (e.g., buddy program during onboarding, regular pulse surveys).

Mission: To bridge any gaps and identify opportunities to ensure LGBTQ+ is represented in AORN's DEI efforts.

In 2023:

  • AORN Pride Month: AORN Staff Listening Session. Collaborated with DEI Community Group in Denver Pride 5k run, which reached 2,400 runners, had 13 AORN volunteers providing over 65 hours of volunteer time.
  • Awareness & Education: Published one AORN Journal article, four Outpatient Surgery Magazine articles and created two Expo sessions.
  • Additional Volunteer: Participated at Expo with the Kind Clinic where volunteers assembled 1,000 kits for gender affirming care.
  • Scholarships: Awarded funds to two scholarships programs for LGBTQ+ nursing students.

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 2023:

  • Conducted two panel-lead discussion events at Expo (Creating Lasting DEI Change; Providing Care for the Black and Latino Patient), and DEI posters at Expo.
  • DEI focus group at Expo to understand disparities in care and opportunities to raise awareness and education.
  • Microlearning course: Unconscious Bias, Health Disparities. Created 24 content items for DEI in AORN Journal, Periop Briefing, and Education courses/videos. Additional Cine-Med video DEI updates on deck for year-end.
  • DEI Summit in November 2023 – Three-hour webinar on various DEI content on nursing and patients. Over 200 nurses attended.

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.