Healthcare organizations are increasingly taking a more active role in calling for action on social issues like racism, gun violence, LGBTQ rights, and climate change as a means of reducing their public health impact.
While some organizations have been more publicly outspoken than others in their advocacy, leaders have to contend with the impact certain controversial issues may have on employees, both with the organization and each other.
“When COVID hit and we saw the disproportionate impact (it was having), that said to us, ‘We have to accelerate these conversations,’ ” said Qiana Williams, vice president of culture and engagement and chief diversity and inclusion officer at Columbus-based OhioHealth. “We have to make sure that we’re talking about these issues on every sphere and every corner of our work.”
OhioHealth’s work on creating an environment where employees could feel more comfortable having more candid conversations on potentially contentious topics actually began three years ago, through a series of town hall discussions and small-group talks that allowed workers to express their views on how the organization was doing on its efforts to address diversity.