Expand the focus from diversity to inclusion and equity
Health companies should seek to expand their programs beyond a focus on representation to include specific inclusion and equity objectives that change how their mission is carried out. They should start with an assessment that covers all key aspects of the mission. For example, an academic medical center may look for inclusion and equity gaps that result in an inequitable focus across its research, teaching and care delivery activities.
Developing patient journeys will help companies look at the experience through the patient’s eyes. From there, they should apply workforce, population, customer relationship management and clinical analytics to establish fact-based priorities and allocate resources for addressing blind spots in diversity, inclusion and health equity. They should create predictive measures of inclusion and equity failures alongside their diversity metrics and measure patient experience with an equity lens.
Raise awareness to lay the groundwork
In 2015, Mayo Clinic conducted a comprehensive organization climate assessment, the results of which caught leadership’s attention and were critical for spurring investment in the organization’s efforts to address equity and inclusion among our staff as well as health disparities research, according to Dr. Sharonne Hayes, professor of cardiovascular medicine and director of diversity and inclusion. “There were lots of national data about biases and inequity in the workforce and, at the time, it was really easy for a place like Mayo Clinic to think that we’re doing better on diversity and inclusion,” Hayes told HRI. “But to get our own data and to find out that there were people sitting in the same work area and having a vastly different experience? Leadership said, ‘We’ve got to do something about this.’”[xxiv]
Many healthcare organizations have programs geared toward raising awareness and empathy for diversity, inclusion and equity considerations. They are deploying educational programs on implicit biases and their impact on decision-making and the patient experience into curricula for healthcare professionals. For example, after developing resources for the admissions committee about implicit biases, The Ohio State University College of Medicine increased enrollment from historically underrepresented groups.[xxv]
“There’s been an inflexible model of medical education for over 100 years, which has led to some maladapted behaviors,” Dr. John Andrews, vice president of graduate medical education innovations at the American Medical Association, told HRI. Added Dr. Kimberly Lomis, vice president for undergraduate medical education innovations at the American Medical Association, also in an interview with HRI: “For example, people training in medicine are often legacies, so we have a disproportionate share of them. There hasn’t been a concerted effort to go outside of that.”[xxvi]
Develop explicit behaviors and metrics of inclusion
Sixty-nine percent of consumers HRI surveyed who work in healthcare said that diversity in the leadership team and workforce is important to them when considering a new employer.[xxvii]
Hiring should go beyond meeting quotas. “It is more than posting jobs,” said Singleton. “It’s how do you represent your healthcare organization, your culture, and how you will be flexible for that role? One area we see that in is work schedules. If the recruiting organization is very specific about schedule requirements, this disengages female physician candidates and they will seek other organizations for employment.”[xxviii]
Diversity will continue to be an elusive goal if diverse talent is not actively included in an equitable way once it is part of the organization. Lack of inclusion is a driver of minority attrition.