Diversity starts at the top with hospital boards and senior leadership. It requires a team approach; a demonstrated commitment to attract, retain and promote people of color; and the development of a management culture that actively embraces and rewards diversity in all sectors.
Diverse management teams, which embrace multiple views and approaches, are known to outperform teams where everyone looks to the CEO for direction before sharing their opinions. Enhancing our differences wont occur unless it is embraced and rewarded. At CHI, promoting diversity is part of our incentive compensation and annual performance appraisals.
Each year, I formally mentor at least two or three individuals to help advance them to a higher level. Thats a vital way to build relationships and keep the pipeline of diversity flowing freely.
We must make sure we are attracting young minorities to health-related professional schools. We cannot begin to effect the changes we need if we dont have a steady supply of qualified students. Once in the field, we need to provide opportunities to ensure that qualified minority executives advance their careers in the same fashion as qualified majority executives. The AHAs diversity institute is promoting greater racial and ethnic diversity in the management and executive ranks of healthcare organizations.
Ive worked closely with the institute as a past president of the National Association of Health Services Executives, the nations largest group of black healthcare executives and a founder and sponsor of the institute. The institute also works hand-in-hand with other affinity groups, including the National Forum for Latino Healthcare Executives and the Alliance of Pan-Asian Healthcare Leaders.
Today, four statesCalifornia, Hawaii, New Mexico and Texashave combined minority populations greater than white populations. The city of Denver, where I live, became a majority minority city in 2003. By the year 2030, people of color will make up 43% of the U.S. populationan 18% increase over todays proportion. As the world changes, the challenges for our healthcare system become even more daunting.
Healthcare in this country is the best in the worldbut not for every citizen. The healthcare system is marked by inequalities and inefficiencies for millions of people. Thats disturbing in a country blessed with such wealth and resources. But with collective action from the entire healthcare community, I believe we can promote diversityand eliminate disparitiesin both perception and outcomes.