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As U.S. health care organizations compete to hire and retain the best employees in the current “war for talent,” the topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace is hot.
And rightfully so. Among the next generation of health care leaders, social responsibility and equity are often decision factors when determining whether or not to work for an organization.
In health care organizations, DEI is about a lot more than just recruiting and retaining a diverse employee base. It goes much deeper. The impact of an organizational culture of DEI extends to all aspects of a health care organization. It influences an organization’s reputation in the community. It attracts diversity in external vendors and business partners. And most importantly, it sets the tone for how employees interact with and treat patients and customers from diverse backgrounds.
“The importance and impact of building a culture of DEI in a health care organization cannot be overstated,” explains Constance Hall, EdD, chair of the graduate nursing program in the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Capella University. “It needs to be the cornerstone of how a health care organization operates. When you are treating patient populations, you can’t see just color or age or sexuality. As a health care professional, you need to see the whole person. When you have someone’s life in your hands, that person’s diversity should never be an inhibitor to the care he or she receives.”
Curtis Brant, PhD, associate vice president of Doctoral Affairs for Capella, agrees.
“I can’t think of any industry where DEI is more important than health care,” Brant says. “The consequences are so important and extremely impactful in health care. It’s the obligation of every health organization to take DEI very seriously and clearly state that DEI is a core value for the organization. Everyone who works with or interacts with the organization needs to know that.”
Sounds great, right? But easier said than done, explains Hall.
“For DEI initiatives to work, employees must have faith that this isn’t just lip service from upper management,” Hall says. “Building a culture of DEI must be central to a health care organization’s mission. An organization’s commitment must be genuine, but also be backed by the resources and capacity to make the investment.”
Hall provides the following nine steps to help build a health care organizational culture with DEI as the foundation:
Learn more about DEI and other relevant topics in health care with Capella University’s online health administration degree programs.