At This Leading Cancer Center, ‘Diversity Is a Hallmark’ of Our Work — From a DEI Leader

Sponsored by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Nicola Buchanan. Photo courtesy of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Nicola Buchanan. Photo courtesy of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

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Fairygodboss
July 18, 2024 at 5:20PM UTC

What does diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) mean to one of the world's premier cancer centers — the Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center?

One part of the answer involves ensuring MSK’s ability to help patients and their families by finding a cure for cancer as well as improving our understanding of cancer and ability to prevent, diagnose, and treat it. Achieving these important goals requires MSK’s workforce to reflect the diversity of those who walk through their doors. After all, cancer doesn’t discriminate.

“Our diverse workforce strengthens and enhances our ability to provide compassionate and cutting-edge care,” the company tells Fairygodboss. At MSK, patients receive individualized treatment with consideration of everything that makes them who they are — including their language, culture, background, and more. Diversity is a hallmark of MSK’s work. Over their 130 years of treating cancer, MSK has continuously celebrated differences, welcomed new ideas, and broke down barriers in order to care for people of all backgrounds.

Today, Nicola Buchanan is there to help advance MSK’s work in thi. Buchanan serves as the associate director of the Office of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. At MSK, “we view diversity in the broadest sense,” Buchanan explains. “We are committed to fostering an environment that is safe, supportive, and compassionate to ensure that every member of the MSK community is treated with courtesy, respect, and dignity.”

As part of this, inclusion and belonging are fostered and strengthened throughout MSK’s seven employee resource networks (ERNs). Each group is centered around a different dimension of diversity, including networks for those with disabilities, veterans, the LGBTQ+ community, and parents. There are also ERNs that focus on gender and race, and there’s one for the diverse physician/fellow community. And, throughout all the ERNs, allies are welcome to join.

Here, we caught up with Buchanan to learn more about MSK’s diversity efforts, as well as some more specifics about their ERNs. 

To start, can you tell us a bit about how the Employee Resource Networks (ERNs) work at MSK?

Each ERN at MSK has a defined membership structure composed of an executive sponsor, two-to-three ERN co-leads, ERN steering committee members, and the ERN constituents at large. 

ERN co-leads conduct monthly meetings with their respective steering committee members for event planning, calendar management, membership engagement, and more. Co-leads also meet quarterly with their respective executive sponsors for help with adherence to strategic goals, navigating any organizational barriers, and overall leadership. Executive sponsors also help by providing access to other organizational leaders to drive buy-in across the business.

Specifically, can you share more about MSK’s women’s ERN? How is this reflective of the overall culture?

The MSK Women on the Move (MWM) ERN is dedicated to the professional and personal development of MSK's women employees. MWM reflects the overall culture of MSK in their aim to create an inclusive environment for women at all levels of the organization, provide opportunities for knowledge exchange, and help our communities.

MSK has such a wide positive impact. Could you share how MSK engaged with or supported their communities?

MSK’s support of communities has reached the national and local levels and continues to expand in scope. A few ways our ERNs continually engage with our patients and broader communities include:

  • Annual food drive in support of cancer patient food pantries.

  • Mammogram and breast cancer screenings at community street fairs.

  • Patients, faculty, and staff marching in annual NYC LGBT and African American Day parades.

  • Annual toiletry drives for veteran patients.



Interested in making a positive impact across the globe with MSK? They’re hiring! Click the following link to browse current job opportunities.

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