Membership and Fellowship |

Our Shared Responsibility


Headshot of ACOG member Gloria Richard-Davis, MD, MBA, NCMP, FACOG.

By Gloria Richard-Davis, MD, MBA, NCMP, FACOG


As a Black female reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist and the executive director for University of Arkansas division of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), I honor Black health and wellness every day in every way.

I have been working with the American Society of Reproductive Medicine on DEI initiatives since 2004, when I led the establishment of a health disparities special interest group to address the disparities that women of color experience in reproductive medicine. Recently the ASRM convened a DEI working committee, which I am privileged to chair. We are addressing equity across the organization in patient care, work force, and every point of care or influence.

At my institution and nationally, I am working to increase the pipeline of talent interested in health care careers statewide and nationally in women’s health and reproductive medicine. Black women comprise only 2% of all physicians and very few obstetrician–gynecologists or subspecialists.

Diversity, health equity, and inclusion are everyone’s responsibility. However, Black physicians carry an undue burden of caring for and advocating for Black and brown patients. In academic medicine, we refer to this burden as a Black tax, and it is exorbitant.

Racial health disparities are a result of over 400 years of structural racism that continues to adversely influence the health of people of color. We have to focus on the social determinants of health outside of health care, as health care only affects 20% of health care outcomes.

Community leaders such as doctors should be leading conversations and initiatives to change policies to drive equity. We are in positions of influence and should leverage our influence in every possible way to support equity. Part of that leverage is increasing awareness. Black maternal mortality rates are three times higher than that of white patients, and at least 60% of those deaths are deemed preventable. The United States is the only developed country with increasing rates. The CDC campaign Hear Her underscores how Black women’s voices are silenced. We must be their voices. Listen, understand, educate, and ask questions. Hold our colleagues and leadership accountable to do the same. I lecture on campus and across the United States on the topic of structural racism and its historical and contemporary effects on women’s health. I am a Black woman 365 days of the year, not just in February. I feel and experience what our Black patients experience and cannot and will not remain silent.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and murder of George Floyd uncovered inequities in our health care, criminal justice, and political systems. We cannot return to normal! Normal wasn’t working. We must acknowledge our history, heal, and move past the past into a future of equity for all, because if we go back to the way things were, we will have lost the lesson. May we rise up and do better!