“Organizations that do not have significant racial and ethnic minority representation in senior leadership are less likely to make racial health inequities a priority.” I had to look at the publication date of the article that was part of Modern Healthcare’s In Depth series late this summer. I read the same thing 20 years ago.
How long have healthcare organizations had initiatives to create a more diverse and inclusive culture and workforce? A diversity and inclusion imperative has been on deck for at least 20 years. Workforce 2000 (Hudson Institute) came out in 1987. It was a bombshell. The data showed that the net new entrants coming into the workforce between 1987 and 2000 would be women, minorities and immigrants.
Laid bare was the truth that to attract, retain and create a robust pipeline for advancement and promotion, leadership had to represent the cultural values of incoming workers and be reflective of the community. Decades later, ignorance of the need to diversify healthcare leadership is exacting its toll.
We’ve seen the disparities between a local community’s Black population and the percentage of COVID-19 patients from that community who are Black. You’ve heard governors warn local healthcare providers not to discriminate in their care for COVID-19 patients based on patients’ race, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, physical disability or mental disability.
To be an effective creator of a culturally diverse healthcare management team, you need to move the needle of your accountability mindset for diversity. Research consistently shows that healthcare management teams whose rosters reflect the diversity of their patients and staff perform better on virtually every measure of clinical, financial and operational performance. You are your patients. You are your staff.
Building a culturally integrated leadership team must be deliberate and organic at the same time. It must be deliberate, in that you want to change the status quo, and you want to change it now. It must be organic, in that you naturally attract diverse leaders because you value diversity and you attract leaders who reflect the diversity of your patient population and your staff.
All manner of programs for “breaking bias” haven’t been working. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.
Half Moon Bay, Calif.