The Catholic Health Association has revised some of the requirements for serving on its board in the hope of increasing ethnic and racial diversity in the 25-member body.
The changes also are aimed at opening the board to newcomers to Roman Catholic healthcare and to people who aren't top executives at Catholic healthcare organizations.
The CHA board has no blacks, and most members are senior executives at Catholic hospital systems.
"Our hope is that we will uncover the names of talented individuals who will bring diverse talent to, and enhance the effectiveness of, CHA committees and its board, drawing from all levels within organizations and considering individuals whose experience within Catholic healthcare may be relatively short," said the recommendations, which the CHA board approved earlier this month at a meeting in suburban Chicago.
The St. Louis-based CHA represents more than 1,200 Catholic healthcare providers.
The CHA's Special Committee on Diversity, which the association created last December, developed the recommendations.
The committee's report said the selection criteria had been a "self-limiting list" because they targeted seasoned executives in Catholic healthcare.
While still encouraging the inclusion of senior executives on the board, the revised criteria also include people "whose evident talent and commitment promise benefit to the Catholic health ministry."
The board-approved recommendations have been forwarded to the CHA's nominating committee, which will use them when considering nominations for the board.
"We have a way to go, but we have made a first cut," said the Rev. Michael Place, the CHA's president and chief executive officer.
The CHA also is considering becoming a sponsor of the Chicago-based Institute for Diversity in Health Management, according to the report.
The institute, which was formed in 1994, promotes career opportunities for minorities in healthcare.
Among the group's sponsors are the American College of Healthcare Executives and the American Hospital Association.
Rupert Evans Sr., the institute's president and CEO, said he applauds the CHA's push for diversity and welcomes its interest in the institute.
The CHA's move for more diversity mirrors the AHA's action in 1993. The AHA changed its bylaws, calling on its nominating committee to strive for more racial, ethnic and gender diversity (Aug. 16, 1993, p. 6).
The chairwoman-elect of the AHA board is Carolyn Lewis, a trustee at Greater Southeast Healthcare System in Washington. She's the first black to hold the post.