Sonya Dunbar



I have over 30 years of experience in dentistry. And I have also been a speaker for over 10 years, including giving TEDx talks.

Lately, I’ve been receiving invitations to events that lack diversity.  Broadly speaking, diversity refers to the understanding and recognition that each individual is unique.

Diversity can also be defined as a collection of human differences such as cultural origin, gender, social class, sexual orientation, physical abilities, religious or political beliefs, etc.

I recently attended a dentistry conference and I was shocked by the lack of diversity in the line-up of speakers at the dental conference. I was also lonely and disturbed when listening to the presentations and making my presentation.

I wanted to see and listen to speakers who represent my culture in the dentistry arena, but there were none.  This was completely overwhelming and all wanted to do was ask my peers what I could do to increase diversity.

That’s why I am dedicating this segment to discuss how we can promote diversity in the dental profession.

We Need to Raise Awareness About The Importance of Diversity

We must consider implementing awareness campaigns to encourage diversity. These campaigns can take the form of a meeting with the department manager or even distributing information kits or brochures made available to employees.

We can also increase their awareness of inclusion by training our staff and managers. This includes inviting external speakers and simulating events to deconstruct prejudices and stereotypes.

Finally, the practice can set up internal working groups to bring together HR teams, managers, and employees. These groups can discuss ways of identifying problems encountered and generate ideas for concrete corrective actions.

These training and working groups can be organized by theme (gender parity, disability, and cultural differences).


Appoint a Focal Point For Diversity

Another way for practitioners to encourage diversity and inclusion policies might be to consider appointing a focal point person for diversity and inclusion within an organization/ practice.

This person could be designated to participate in diversity training. In this way, the person can specialize in this topic over time and help the organization make more informed decisions on inclusion. The focal point could also be responsible for formulating the organization’s position at local and global events.  

At the local level, dental practitioners can carry out joint activities with local officials or groups of NGOs. This could be as simple as starting a blog or hosting a webinar jointly, as a first step in advocating for strong diversity programs and outreach work among the community, staff, and customers.

Let’s Put in Place An Effective Complaints System

Usually, people who file discrimination or harassment complaints face more career difficulties compared to people who do nothing. And this does not encourage diversity.

To avoid such situations, we need to make information on harassment available and provide valuable advice on what people can do when they face any form of discrimination or harassment.


Collecting and Analyzing Data on Diversity

Practitioners can increase transparency and accountability around diversity issues through:

  • Collection and analysis of data on diversity.
  • Comparison of figures with those of other practitioners
  • Communicating data with your key stakeholders.

For example, practitioners can collect data to find out whether women are sufficiently represented in managerial positions compared to similar companies. If you see a shortfall, set concrete goals and work towards them. However, it is important to analyze the data accurately and share it with key stakeholders to determine the way forward.

Other Ways of Promoting Inclusion

We can ensure diversity in all spheres of activity by providing an environment for future physicians and health professionals that meet the needs of a diverse and inclusive society.

Dental facilities should, therefore:-

  • Foster an inclusive work and learning environment that respects diversity.
  • Encourage the recruitment and retention of staff who reflect the diversity of the society.
  • Train students and residents so that they can work in a diverse society.

Let’s work together

As the Geriatrics Tooth Fairy, you can invite me to your facility, conference, training, or interview to talk about diversity.

My work entails raising awareness about the plight of seniors and I can make sure they receive good oral care.  You can also purchase my Book  The Tooth and Nothing But The Truth.

Let’s make your vision a reality!

Want to discuss my work or a challenge you’re facing?  Leave your details and I’ll get back to you