3 strategies for a more diverse workforce

Hospitals and health systems are increasingly focused on diversity at all levels, particularly among leadership.

More diverse leadership can improve employee retention as well as patient outcomes and patient experience. A recent panel of healthcare leaders discussed the industry's progress toward a more diverse workforce and specific strategies that can help an organization achieve diversity goals. The panel was called "Diversity in Business, Healthcare and Professional Service," and it took place in November at the Becker's Hospital Review 8th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable in Chicago.

The panelists were Diane Ewing, chief liaison to the president and CEO of Premier Health and vice president of external communications, and Shikha Jain, MD, assistant professor of medicine, hematology, oncology and cell therapy, and physician director of media relations at Rush University Cancer Center in Chicago.

Here are three top strategies to improve diversity efforts:

1. Diversity doesn't happen accidentally. Organizations need to be intentional at examining diversity, setting goals, creating policies and measuring progress toward their goals. It takes time, but it can't be fixed without measuring, the panel agreed.  

2. Start with diverse search committees. Diverse search committees create more diverse candidate pools. Panelists also discussed using scorecards during the hiring process to avoid a common complaint related to diversity efforts — tokenism. Being able to show that all candidates met certain standards can quickly end disagreements over diversity policies.

3. Provide a way to receive feedback. Minorities or people who feel marginalized may not be comfortable speaking up to voice feedback or express the challenges they face at work. Their biggest challenges may be surprising to those in charge.

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