Healthcare executives should prepare for the demographic reality that the workforce will become significantly more diverse in the coming decades, said Robert Rodriguez, an assistant dean at Kaplan University and diversity consultant who addressed the congress of the American College of Healthcare Executives in Chicago.
Consultant notes shifting demographics
As 77 million baby boomers expected to retire in the next 18 years (or 11,000 a day reaching retirement age, he calculated), healthcare organizations will be “losing a lot of talent,” Rodriguez said. Meanwhile, the country is on track for its minority communities to outnumber its Anglo residents by 2042, he said.
Rodriguez, who is Mexican-American and wrote a book called “Latino Talent,” also pointed out that Latinos are the fastest-growing minority and as a group are younger than their non-Hispanic white and black neighbors.
“That's material that has implications for your organizations,” Rodriguez said. Diversity initiatives began as efforts to comply with laws and regulations and as they evolved were directed at enforcing tolerance, with an implied audience of white males, he said. “What has been relatively new is to want to learn more on the intellectual capital side,” Rodriguez said. “It's not just white males who can benefit from learning how to work with and lead a diverse workforce.”
He described a few trends he said were helping executives accomplish that, including developing a “textured understanding” that reflects the diversity within broad categories of people, and recruitment initiatives that are complemented with retention programs.
During a question and answer session, an attendee challenged that the ACHE does little to value the contributions and respond to the needs of healthcare leaders who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender. ACHE Chairman Chris Van Gorder responded that the organization is forming a task force on GLBT issues.
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