PEOPLE Rising to the Challenge Optical Companies Address Diversity, Equity and Inclusion By Marge Axelrad Monday, May 31, 2021 1:00 AM RELATED CONTENT National Optometric Association Expands Its Voice on Behalf of Minority Optometrists Open Your Eyes Scholarships Support Students’ Path to Opticianry Schools Black EyeCare Perspective Expands Its Connections and Development on Many Fronts CEO Action Pledge for Diversity and Inclusion Signed by National Vision’s CEO Optometric Colleges Deepen their Diversity Commitments Opening Your Eyes! The First Look at the Industry’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Survey Range of DEI Courses and Discussions Are Slated for Vision Expo Orlando in June The Vision Council’s Report Starts the Diversity and Inclusion Conversation Download a PDF of Rising to the Challenge.NEW YORK—In a year of upheaval, which in the year 2020 escalated on every front, from health care, business, family, politics and culture, due to many things including a global pandemic, it became clear to many that a new awareness of inequities, access and a demand for change would bring about a new and more widespread dialogue within the optical industry and profession toward diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). DEI has become, for a growing number of companies, individuals, groups and organizations across the optical industry and vision care profession, more than a buzzword. It is a widening commitment. Executives and employees, doctors and associates, patients and patient advocates are starting to more openly address the issues of racism and institutional prejudice and to support diversity as part of their stated mission. In the mid point of 2020, sustained civil protests became very visible and vocal across major cities, suburbs and local towns throughout the U.S. Communications and steps forward are complex but are on a crescendo. They have taken different forms, from internal statements to employees and associates to formally posted letters of support and principle. VMAIL has been consistently reporting on these as they are issued. Vision Monday has housed these and more in our Diversity & Inclusion category on VisionMonday.com and will continue to do so. Efforts this year have spanned a long list of optical companies including statements of support for diversity including initiatives, plans to address and take action, support new businesses and form action plans. Among these are VSP Global, MyEyeDr., Warby Parker, IDOC, EssilorLuxottica, Safilo, Marcolin, Zyloware, Kering, WestGroupe, ClearVision, CooperVision, Johnson & Johnson and many, many more independent ECPs, eyewear suppliers and other service companies. Recognition of the challenges span issues among Black, Asian, Pacific Islander, and others of color as well as LGBTQ and women, and those with economic access to care and services. The Vision Council’s expansive DEI Survey is one example (click here). The full report is available on The Vision Council’s website here. The Vision Council, like many companies, alliances and suppliers around the vision care industry, has established its own Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Task Force. Vision Council DEI task force members include: • Dr. Derrick Artis – Management consultant at Artis Consulting • Lanard Atkins – Opticianry Program director at Georgia Piedmont Technical College • Dr. Diana Canto-Sims – Co-Founder at Buena Vista Optical and Designer at La Vida Eyewear • Gai Gherardi – Co-Founder at l.a.Eyeworks • Rebecca Giefer – CEO, Americas at MODO Eyewear • Dr. Millicent Knight – SVP, Customer Development Group at Essilor • Blake Kuwahara – President/CEO, Focus Group West and creative director, Blake Kuwahara Eyewear • Dr. Howard Purcell – President and CEO at New England College of Optometry • Dr. Danielle Richardson – Independent optometrist at Optometrix • Tiffany Smith – Regional director of Doctor Recruitment at National Vision • Phernell Walker – Director of Optometric Relations at VSP Ventures • Kyly Zak Rabin – Co-Founder at Zak. • Christine Yeh – Executive editor at 20/20 Magazine Representatives of the Task Force were among those who discussed some of the findings from the Vision Council DEI survey in a recent EYE2EYE session. Links to their thought provoking comments and discussion were recently posted here.