When Diane Price Banks, PhD, MPH, MLS(ASCP)CM, decided to “come out of the shadows and into the light to help promote the profession,” she didn’t just turn on a lamp—she lit up the entire community at Bronx Community College. As an assistant professor in biological sciences and program director for the Medical Laboratory Technician program, Dr. Banks was instrumental in creating an MLT advertisement for BCC in an effort to increase enrollment. A daunting task, but she succeeded, helping grown enrollment for the MLT program by 56 percent over the past five years. Dr. Banks continues to position the MLT program at BCC as a milestone toward upward mobility, academic advancement, and gainful employment for students. Here, she shares insight on diversity in leadership, what makes for an inclusive workplace, and career advice.
Why is diversity in leadership critical to the success of a laboratory?
Diversity is essential for several reasons, but let us highlight two: 1) representation and 2) innovation. First, diversity affords diverse populations the feeling of comfortability in pursuing a career in the lab. It breeds a level of institutional acceptance. Youth seeing someone that looks like them can help influence that individual to pursue a career in the clinical laboratory because it seems attainable. It may help boost their confidence and passion for the field. With diversity comes innovation and fresh ideas. The status quo can become mundane. Adding new thinkers to the mix can liven things up and move the lab in a progressive direction.
In your experience, what characterizes a workplace and working community where you feel a sense of belonging and empowerment, where you can do your best work, thrive, and feel welcomed and valued?
Feeling empowered and valued at work can be achieved in workspaces where one can be heard and allowed to contribute as a collaborative member of the team. Workspaces that check egos at the door and encourage collegiality and collaboration are a great environment to thrive. Conversely, environments where its team members' abilities threaten leadership to the point of suppression, are not suitable environments to thrive.
If you could give one or two pieces of advice to your younger colleagues, what would you say?
Don't stop! Keep advancing one's career. Keep the door into laboratory science open for others to enter and maximize their growth potential. Another thing I would say is to look back and help someone else get into the field. Help can include talking with family about the benefits of working in the lab or encouraging phlebotomy colleagues to pursue advancement in the lab as a sustainable career.
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This interview has been edited for clarity and length.