Never before have the communities we serve been as culturally diverse as they are today. Nor have we ever employed such an equally multicultural workforce. That is why my organization felt it was critical to adapt to these changesparticularly if we are to remain competitive in our marketplace.
So several years ago we instituted a cultural diversity program. But embracing cultural diversity has turned out to be a much broader project for us. It also has served to drive our commitments to be an employer of choice, enhance our reputation for high-quality service and cultivate a staff that reflectsand respectsthe patients who come to our hospitals every day.
This has been a considerable undertaking requiring a long-term commitment from everyone in our organizationthe board, senior administration, the medical and nursing staffs, middle managers and unionized employees. We have made positive strides in diversifying at the middle-manager level. And we are making headway with the most senior administrative and clinical positions, though this is where most hospital systems tend to fall short. Like others in our industry, we need to make further progress to break through the new glass ceiling, the one that hinders the advancement of qualified African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latinos and other ethnic minorities to the most senior posts.
We also have developed voluntary guidelines to assist middle and senior managers in interviewing, and, most importantly, retaining diverse job candidates. Managers develop criteria against which all candidates are assessed, specifically identifying qualities deemed necessary for success in the position. This is good standard human resources practice but critical to remaining a viable organization in the job market. Our ultimate goal is to have a truly transparent recruitment and retention process that helps us better serve our diverse patient population at all levels of the organization.
Changing recruitment practices is relatively simple; however, a cultural diversity initiative focused on long-term sustainability must include other key elements. To help us identify what also had to be part of our initiative, we surveyed staff representing all racial, ethnic and generational groups. We asked them to share openly and honestly their issues and concerns on topics such as advancement opportunities, problems stemming from having four generations in the workplace, and a lack of training and developmental programs for all. We also established a dedicated Diversity Office and a Corporate Diversity Council, which I co-chair, to oversee this initiative.
Right from the start, mentoring was identified as a key priority. It also is an integral element of our organizations long-term strategy for cultivating the next generation of leadership. As a result, a pilot mentoring program is now under way, which illuminates the value we place on developing leaders, retaining talent within our system and opening the opportunity for career advancement to a diverse array of employees.
Each hospital site has a Diversity Council that oversees the mentoring program at its location. Participants will be surveyed at the conclusion of the mentoring cycle to measure the programs success.
Succession planning is another key element of our cultural diversity initiative, and senior management plays an important role in how we identify our leaders of tomorrow and cultivate their development and education. For this reason, we are looking to our directors and up to help advance diversity awareness. Through a new program called Leading a Changing Workforce and Customer Base, senior managers are provided with both practical advice and tools to educate staff about the objectives of our diversity initiative. The goal is for senior managers to seek out bright, young and diverse talent in the organization whom they can share knowledge with and nurture for advancement. Simply put, we want to link diversity with day-to-day operations.
Were addressing the issue of cultural diversity head-on, and I encourage others to do so, too, particularly if their organizations serve melting-pot communities.