What were some areas the committee wanted to focus on?
A lot of it was around education and awareness—how we can communicate better with each other and develop a better understanding of each other. Some of it was what we expected: sensitive topics regarding race, LGBTQ issues, and issues that minority populations experience.
Our committee is very diverse, and they speak up.
What policy changes have you implemented based on what you’ve learned from the DEI committee?
We have addressed some LGBTQ+ issues through our policies. We issued guidance related to the use of pronouns. The committee developed a pronoun document and video to educate our staff on the appropriate terms to use when discussing issues related to LGBTQIA individuals or communities. We already had a very strong policy on discrimination, retaliation and harassment, so we basically reiterated the importance of those policies.
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You have locations across the country. Do the locations engage with DEI matters differently?
Yes. We have some locations that [serve] diverse populations, and some of them were already doing things from a DEI perspective. Some locations had already been printing menus in different languages. One location had a population heavy in Haitians, so it developed [ways] to communicate with them in [Haitian] Creole. One center had all their staff wear hats like women wear to church to celebrate women. I think it is amazing when they are unique in their ideas and engaging employees at the [facility] level. We want all our initiatives to be about education, but we also want them to be fun, and that is what we are achieving.
How has your DEI program had an impact on your patients?
When our employees feel safe and they feel that they can be authentic, it does trickle down to the patients. In the last six months, we have had a lot of training on cultural competence and that trickles down to the patients, because we want our patients to feel that we understand their needs and beliefs and we can provide the care to meet those needs.
How has your program evolved over the past three years?
We now have 200 ambassadors, separate from the committee, in locations throughout our organization. Their role is to help a center develop its own DEI program or a cultural awareness committee if they choose to do so. They can share their ideas [with each other] across the organization.
We also have support from leadership and our board for our DEI program. That was important to me, because I didn’t want to be in a check-the-box program.
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What metrics have you set to gauge your success?
Our goals within our initiatives are based around expanding the need for diversity. We do collect quantitative data to measure our success, which is how I know that our diversity has increased. We will continue to evolve.
I like the fact that people are reaching out to our committee all day, every day, saying, “Look at what we’re doing.” That was my dream, to have people doing that.