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The PeopleFluent Guide to Improving Patient Outcomes through Diversity and Inclusion

To meet the demands of a larger and more diverse patient population, healthcare organizations need to better reflect the communities they serve. This guide provides tips on cultivating a strong diversity strategy for your organization.

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The PeopleFluent Guide to Improving Patient Outcomes through Diversity and Inclusion

The US Census Bureau predicts that the foreign-born population of the United States will grow from 42 million to 78 million by 2060, an increase of 85%.According to that same research, the majority-minority crossover will occur in 2044, meaning that there will be no ethnic majority in the United States. All of this creates more diversity within the U.S. population, which means there is also increased diversity within patient bases. This diversity is compounded by the fact that an unprecedented number of Americans have health insurance due to the Affordable Care Act – 20 million citizens are currently covered by this new legislation.

Diversity is often misunderstood and goes beyond race, gender, color and religion. There are many more dimensions of diversity including country of origin, ethnicity, physical ability, parental status, sexual identity and geographical location. To meet the demands of a more diverse population and a growing number of insured Americans, we need diversity within our healthcare organizations to better serve our communities. Research published by the University of Alabama at Birmingham confirm what best-in-class healthcare organizations have known to be true for years: that “improved cultural competency has the potential to reduce racial/ethnic disparities” and allows the patient to heal properly and quickly. Increased diversity and cultural competency will improve patient outcomes and HCAHPS scores. Want specifics? Minority patients with diverse health staff most notably see a difference in nurse communication, staff responsiveness and pain control1. But the benefits of a diverse workforce span beyond patient care. A culture of diversity and inclusion can influence staff retention and employee engagement as well. Diversity breeds a greater exchange of ideas, competencies, skills and thoughts among employees. Employees, from entry level to leaders, with varied backgrounds and experiences bring new perspective to your organization and encourage new ways of thinking. The most successful healthcare organizations understand that a diverse workforce that accurately reflects the diverse patient base they care for daily is paramount to driving patient and employee satisfaction. Nationwide, healthcare org

The following guide will help your organization cultivate the strategy necessary to provide quality care to your diverse patient population.

CREATE A CULTURE OF DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION

Diversity in talent management should be an organization-wide effort, beginning with your organization’s board or executive team. Leadership needs to make diversity a strategic initiative. Appoint a Chief Diversity Officer to assist in cultivating high achieving employees throughout the company. Provide diversity and inclusion training. Create communities of care to promote inclusion. The creation of internal diversity communities affords employees the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments and knowledge of other employees. Some organizations appoint a mentor program to inspire employees to learn what it takes to rise within the company and leverage their diverse experiences to better serve patients. Video is a key tool when fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion. Release video content that promotes and reinforces your organization’s diversity values, perhaps with familiar faces from around the organization, and also highlights what to do if a problem is identified.

DEVELOP A TALENT ACQUISITION STRATEGY WITH DIVERSITY IN MIND

Reinforce your organization’s talent acquisition messaging to ensure people of all backgrounds are welcome. Apply this same inclusive messaging not only to job descriptions, but also to your career site and accompanying talent acquisition material. Your organization’s reputation as an employer of choice should be reinforced by the manner in which it reaches out to people of all backgrounds. Video questionnaires , diversity communities and career site language showcase your employer brand by communicating diversity messaging and values, including proactive outreach by a defined diversity group.

FOSTER INDIVIDUAL GROWTH WITHIN YOUR DIVERSE WORKFORCE

Talent development is not a one-size-fits-all initiative; this sentiment is even truer when serving a diverse workforce. Hospitals that adopt talent management best practices accelerate workforce diversity initiatives by enabling consistency and transparency within talent review practices, specifically high potential leadership assessment processes. The best way to understand your employees is to understand their goals. Talent profiles are an excellent way to accomplish this because they allow employees to fill in their goals, aspirations and skillsets. This knowledge empowers your organization’s managers to fine-tune their managerial skills to each direct report to ensure your organization maximizes the contribution from each team member. Job profiles and analytics highlight areas of focus when hiring new employees. Goals are also a great way to proactively assign mentors to employees with diverse backgrounds. Mentors instill confidence in employees, empower their work and can act as a confidant in times of need.

CREATE COMMUNITIES OF INCLUSION

Create a sense of community. Collaboration is important to improve patient care, but also to create a team environment where everyone feels connected and included. Diversity breeds a greater exchange of ideas, competencies, skills and thoughts among employees that can all be shared through a collaboration platform. Communities of inclusion with a collaboration platform will enable employees, from entry level to leaders, with varied backgrounds and experiences bring new perspective to your organization and encourage new ways of thinking.

COMPENSATE FAIRLY

Equal compensation across gender and race is a non-negotiable aspect when it comes to diversity in healthcare. Pay strategies should be commensurate with experience and responsibilities within the organization. Compensation tools, like PeopleFluent’s Compensation Mirror, provide guidance to managers on how to pay each employee fairly.

MAKE THE CONTINGENT WORKFORCE A STRATEGIC PART OF YOUR TALENT STRATEGY

Keep in mind that a diverse workforce reaches far beyond the fringes of full-time employees. Offering a diversity of employment paths will give you the flexibility to select the staff that brings you the diversity you need. And remember that contractors and vendors should be instructed on the importance of diversity in your organization’s community and the impact it has on patient care. This should take place during both hiring and onboarding. Best practices suggest the use of video to support communication efforts to suppliers and contractors.

THESE STEPS ARE JUST THE BEGINNING

PeopleFluent’s Healthcare in Talent Management white paper reports that hospital organizations with highly developed talent management practices reported 52.4% and 42.5% of C-Suite positions were held by women and ethnic minorities respectively. By comparison, organizations without best-in-class talent management practices reported that women and ethnic minorities held 23.7% and 11.6% of C-Suite positions. Focus on developing those talent management practices to support increased diversity among leadership. The evolving nature of our nation’s demographics is enacting a change in healthcare employers. Diversity is not just something that is “done” to comply with federal regulations and standards, but a strategic priority for organizations looking to provide the best care possible to their patients. As the population evolves, so too will your organization’s patient base. And what better way to meet their progressively changing needs than to care for them with an equally diverse workforce. Additionally, the internal benefits of a diversity and inclusion talent acquisition strategy make you an employer of choice and broaden the expertise of your current staff to provide a well-rounded talent development experience throughout their career with your organization.