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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and the National MS Society


Why diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) matters

Disparities in healthcare keep many systemically disadvantaged populations, groups and communities from having access to the quality care they need. As a national health organization, speaking out is not just a choice; it is our responsibility. When we support and advocate for those most affected by inequities in our communities and healthcare systems, we lift everyone. This makes us more effective in achieving our vision of a world free of MS.

We define diversity, equity and inclusion as:

  • Diversity: Diversity encompasses the range of human differences and similarities that make us unique, such as our cognitive skills and personality traits, along with other characteristics that shape our identity, such as:
• Race
• Ethnicity
• Age
• Gender identity and expression
• Disability
• Veteran status
• Religion
• Sexual orientation
• Culture or beliefs
• Education
• Socioeconomic status
• Family or marital status
• Geography
  • Equity: The work of equity seeks to eliminate discriminatory practices, policies, systems and social norms. It acknowledges that underserved and underrepresented populations have experienced unfair treatment and denial of access due to bias or systemic structures.
  • Inclusion: Inclusion is the act of authentically and intentionally bringing traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes, activities and policymaking in a way that shares power.

The desired outcome of our DEI practice is Belonging, a human, emotional need to feel accepted, valued, seen and supported.

Diversity, equity and inclusion are core to who we are as an organization. We are committed to the continual practice of identifying and responding to the root causes and impacts of inequitable norms, policies and procedures. Read our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion logo with colorful design

Our inclusion policy

We are a movement by and for everyone affected by MS. Hate has no place here. The National MS Society has a zero-tolerance policy regarding harassment of our staff, volunteers and all people affected by MS, as outlined in our inclusion policy.

A white woman with shoulder-length blonde hair wearing a purple blouse sits in a light-green chair in front of a beige curtain.

A Message About DEI From Cyndi Zagieboylo, President and CEO

Cyndi Zagieboylo talks about the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion to the Society and the MS movement.

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A young Black man with short, curly hair wearing a light-blue shirt sits in a room in front of a bicycle.

Representation in the MS Community

People living with MS speak about the importance of greater representation for healthcare equity.


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Our progress

Diversity, equity and inclusion has long been a core value of our organization. But we recognized we needed to do more to make the MS movement a place for all affected by MS. We know that this effort is a journey, not a destination, and we will continue to make progress, together.

To demonstrate our commitment to DEI, we:

  • Hired a Vice-President of DEI to focus us on DEI strategy and created teams to scale and advance this work, an internal staff work team and a CEO DEI Advisory Committee
  • Launched nationwide, annual, virtual affinity experience summits: the Black MS Experience Summit and the Hispanic/Latinx MS Experience Summit
  • Supported legislation to increase equitable access to healthcare for LGBTQ+ people
  • Invested in research to better understand the differences in MS progression for underrepresented groups
  • Facilitated the creation of 4 Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), safe and accountable spaces for staff and allies who have an affinity with a particular demographic. These included:
Inclusive Voices Employee Resource Group logo, which includes a colorful speech box icon

Inclusive Voices — for racially and ethnically diverse staff

Military Community Network Employee Resource Group logo, which includes an abstract flag icon

Military Community Network — for staff connected to the military community

Society Pride Employee Resource Group logo, which includes an abstract rainbow icon

Society Pride — for LGBTQ+ staff

Workability Employee Resource Group logo, which includes an abstract, blue power button icon

Workability — for staff with a chronic mentally or physically disabling condition 

To learn more, read our first DEI Transparency Report outlining our commitments and progress in 2022.

This is only the beginning. As we grow as an organization, we will do more in our fight for justice and create belonging. This is the only way we can achieve a world where everyone with MS can live their best lives.


© 2024 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a tax exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Its Identification Number (EIN) is 13-5661935.