The pandemic has affected communities of color perhaps more than any other. Long-standing health and social inequities have put minority groups at greater risk, and to be part of the solution, you need a team that is diverse in many dimensions. In fact, by focusing more on diversity and inclusion, the pandemic is actually changing some of the ways we recruit, connect, and support one another in healthcare. This is an incredibly complicated subject. While we can't possibly address everything here, we've included some initiatives we've read about along with some tips to promote diversity in your own recruiting.
First and foremost, improved diversity and inclusion go beyond fairness or equity. It provides two measurable benefits:
- It’s inherent to addressing all patient’s healthcare needs, from language and culture to allowing more confidence and comfort.
- It builds trust and confidence in communities.
The recent 2020-21 Best Hospitals Honor Roll included hospitals that are working to address health disparities. Healthcare facilities and organizations like the American Society of Anesthesiologists have also released statements on racism and healthcare disparities.
This is nothing new in healthcare though. As early as 2016, facilities like John Hopkins have been creating new executive roles like chief diversity officer (CDO) and vice president for health equity.
“Drawing upon our racial and cultural differences is crucial to executing our mission to improve health,” says Paul B. Rothman, M.D., CEO of John Hopkins Medicine. “When the physician is the same race as the patient, patients report higher levels of trust and satisfaction. The visits even last longer—by 2.2 minutes, on average. When patients enter our hospitals, they want to see staff members and physicians who resemble them.”
To show they’re backing up their mission with meaningful action, John Hopkins also created a fund for retaining underrepresented minority faculty. “We’re building a divorce workforce building a diverse workforce capable of relating to our patients and speaking their language, both literally and figuratively, says Dr. Rothman.
Because diversity among physicians is limited, one of the top roles of CDOs is to work with recruiters to ensure diverse candidate pools at every level. The Cleveland Clinic’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, for example, provides strategies that support recruitment efforts, including online education about language and culture. Their programs also provide personal and professional development and increase engagement between the facilities and the communities they serve.
The Emergency Medicine Residency Program at Boston Medical Center has even ramped up initiatives around the diversity of its residents. “I believe that the more that members of our physician and ancillary staff community resemble our patient community, the more we will get to that place of helping people feel welcome,” says Jordan Spector, MD, the Residency Program Director.
Women are key for diversity in the healthcare workforce, too. Do you know that women consumers in the US make 80% of the buying and usage decisions when it comes to healthcare? (per research from Oliver Wyman). Women also represent 65 percent of the workforce – a relatively high share compared to other industries like financial services and technology.
Despite their influence, though, women are notably underrepresented in healthcare leadership: Women make up approximately 30% of C-suite teams and just 13 percent of CEOs, per the same Oliver Wyman research). Healthcare, unlike other industries, does not have a “women in healthcare” problem, but a “women in healthcare leadership” problem.
Fortunately, healthcare employers are working to improve gender parity. September is Women in Medicine Month and we’ll be writing more about gender equity as we celebrate some of the great women of medicine.
Until then, here are a few ways you can help promote diversity in recruiting at your organization:
- Highlight your company’s diverse culture in your outreach. If your organization has recognized the need for a more diverse workforce and has responded accordingly, make sure to highlight this in your candidate messaging. Especially today, candidates are eager to work for organizations that embrace diversity. There is always room for improvement, so continuously identify ways in which processes and policies at your organization can be revisited to encourage greater diversity.
- Ensure the hiring committee and process is inclusive. To avoid any implicit biases, it's important to have all types of people on your hiring team. When you conduct interviews, it's important to incorporate a rigorous and consistent interviewing process that's remain the same across all candidates.
- Assess candidates equally. Ask all candidates the same questions and base your evaluation on their skill sets. This might go without saying, but it's important to reiterate the importance of keeping all candidates on an even playing field, regardless of the role.
- Keep diverse candidates in your pipeline. If you come across a candidate that wasn’t a fit for a current role, make sure you keep up your relationship with them! That way when you have something come up in the future, you’ll have a wonderful, well-rounded set of candidates to reach back out to. We have some tips for keeping your pipeline warm in a previous blog.
- Adopt a long-term, strategic approach. While it may be tempting to rush into action and implement quick fixes, it’s important to take the time to develop a forward-reaching outline of how your organization plans to promote diversity from within. Demonstrating an understanding and awareness that diversity is much more than a movement will allow your organization to respond with a long-term mindset.
Does your recruiting strategy include a plan for addressing or improving health disparities? We’d love to hear what you’re doing! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also invite you to read How Physician Recruiters are Rising to the Occasion During the Pandemic.