Racial diversity is not social engineering as some think.  It is good business.

For too many years businesses across the US did not pay much attention to diversity hiring. Executive suites, especially in hospitals, reflected that lack of attention – mostly Diversity-Shutterstock-998x615white, mostly male.

Things began to change in healthcare when a study showed that while 20 percent of the workforce at most hospitals consisted of racial minorities, in the executive suite, only one percent of the senior leadership team was made up of minorities.  Awareness of this fact began to elevate in 1994 with the creation of the Institute for Diversity in Healthcare Management. The founding mission of this organization was to expand leadership opportunities for culturally, ethnically, and racially diverse individuals.  Since its inception progress has been made but there is still a long way to go before the leadership teams of American hospitals reflect the populations they serve.

Of course healthcare is not an isolated industry.  Hiring decisions  in many businesses are still made based on racial similarity.  In an article posted in the New York Times, one young manager tasked with hiring eight team members for an important new service initiative went to a weekly meeting with his boss, a respected African-American, who  asked him about his first four hires, all male, all white, all about 23-years-old.  “You know this is not a fraternity,” the boss said.  So true. Most industries serve diverse populations. 

The young manager was horrified at his lack of awareness. ”I was embarrassed by my lack of sensitivity.”

By the time he finished building out his team, it was a racially, culturally, and gender diverse group of people whose work product provided invaluable guidance to the organization and benefit for the community.

In healthcare, the need to remain focused on diversity is critical.  You cannot possibly be successful managing the health needs of a culturally, racially, gender and sexually diverse population if the executive team does not reflect the community, and cannot provide personal insight. 

Healthcare organizations must look at their leadership teams and consider the future.

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