Friday, April 29, 2011

Lecturer highlights value of diversity

VALUING DIVERSITY: From left, Rosenbaum, Cobbs, Emmerich and Chester Pierce, MD, an MGH psychiatrist

During his April 13 lecture in the Ether Dome, Price Cobbs, MD – an internationally recognized psychiatrist and management consultant – encouraged audience members to reflect on what diversity means both to them and their organization. Cobbs presented his lecture, "Diversity: What Are the Right Issues?" as part of the MGH Department of Psychiatry Diversity Committee Spring Speaker Series.  Additional sponsors of the event were the MGH Multicultural Affairs Office and the HMS Office for Diversity and Community Partnership.

Anne Emmerich, MD, chair of the speaker series and an MGH psychiatrist, welcomed guests and explained that the purpose of the series is to help educate the department and the hospital community about issues related to diversity. Emmerich then introduced Cobbs, who currently serves as president and CEO of Pacific Management Systems, a company that consults with organizations on strategies related to leadership, executive development and diversity. Cobbs has lectured and published extensively on the psychological effects of racism and is the author of "My American Life: From Rage to Entitlement" and co-author of "Black Rage," "The Jesus Bag" and "Cracking the Corporate Code: From Survival to Mastery."

Cobbs described his experiences as an African American psychiatrist training and practicing during the Civil Rights Movement and how those experiences led him to be a founder of the field of ethnotherapy. He disclosed lessons learned about the psychological effects of racism and shared how he continues to help organizations examine three potential sources of prejudice and disparity: the individual, the interpersonal and the organizational.

"My mission has been to make diversity a core value for institutions, so that it doesn't become seasonal or topical, so that it isn't something we do one day but not the next," said Cobbs.

Jerrold Rosenbaum, MD, chief of the Department of Psychiatry, thanked Cobbs for his inspirational words. The audience, moved by Cobbs' words and his life work, offered an extended round of applause. Following the presentation, Rosenbaum and the Department of Psychiatry Diversity Committee enjoyed lunch with Cobbs in the Hackett Room and presented him with several gifts of appreciation, including the new MGH history book.

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