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Moving forward with greater inclusivity and transparency: The ESC Strategic Plan 2023–2028

25 Aug 2023
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Since early 2021, the ESC has enlisted the help of more than 70 contributors to devise the ESC Strategic Plan 2023–2028. This dynamic document sets out the key aims to guide the ESC’s continuing journey. ESC President Elect and Chair of the ESC’s Governance Task Force, Professor Thomas F. Lüscher, talks about why one of the strategic aims – being a welcoming society with fair and transparent governance – is so important to the future of the society:

“Not only is the ESC Strategic Plan a strong expression of the ESC’s dedication to patients with heart and vascular disease, but it also reflects the ESC’s commitment to the healthcare professionals and scientists worldwide who provide, and advance, patient care. Fostering a welcoming, inclusive environment for all is key to our sustained success.

The ESC counts 4,000 active volunteers and more than 100,000 members from all cardiovascular professions and career stages around the world. We are also proud of our growing patient forum and partnerships with many different organisations whose goals are aligned with our mission to reduce the burden of CVD. Despite the inherent diversity within the ESC, actively nurturing inclusivity and transparent structures for collective decision making are paramount to maintaining one of the ESC’s strongest assets – unity.  

Ensuring representation of all relevant stakeholders and recruitment of diverse talent leads to a strengthened society.

Inclusivity, respect and empathy have been purposefully stated as ESC values. Creating a community that is attractive and open to everyone will help cultivate a strong sense of team spirit to drive the society forward. The ESC Gender Policy was developed under the leadership of Professor Stephan Achenbach, ESC Past President, to promote equal opportunities in participation and leadership roles. We now intend to implement wider equality, diversity and inclusivity policies across our processes and activities, actively advocating for increased representation.

Besides inclusivity and diversity, robust and clear governance help sustain feelings of collaboration and fairness. Promoting integrity – another core ESC value – involves transparent collective decision making, which can become more complex as our society grows. Implementing the strategic plan will involve putting governance processes in place that are relevant now, but that can also adapt with the evolving society and changing environment. The ESC is currently governed by a 34-member board – elected bi-annually – that is overseen by 22 committees. We intend to provide a set of requirements, qualifications and responsibilities for all leadership positions and board roles. Over the next few years, we will review all governance procedures and harmonise decision-making processes to ensure we maintain credibility, financial sustainability and leadership in science and education within our organisation to optimally serve our members. How can we advocate for equality and access for treatments across Europe if we are not perceived as being fair, transparent and evidence-based ourselves? To ensure proper ethical conduct, we currently have statutes, an Ethics Committee and Code of Ethics, we adhere to the Biomedical Alliance in Europe Code of Conduct and we have various policies in place, including a document on declaration and management of conflict of interest (COI). We want to further demonstrate our integrity – free from bias and undue influence – by enforcing and monitoring clearly designed COI and ethical conduct policies.

Promoting a welcoming, transparent and open society starts right here in Amsterdam at ESC Congress 2023. We aim to create a sense of openness and inclusivity in all activities, and hope you will adopt this same approach in your interactions with others. The ESC is here to support you in your career and within our community – a community that we hope to make even more diverse, fair and attractive for all.”

How can you be part of the ESC and enjoy its support all year round? Find out more about ESC activities at the Lounge & Exchange Area.