Culture Webinars

Webinar: Healthcare leader insights on diversity, equity, and inclusion

Group of physicians collaborating

Health eCareers and CHG Healthcare assembled a panel of industry leaders in a recent webinar to share their insights on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in healthcare. Here are a few of the DEI topics touched on:

  • Moving past our biases
  • Creating environments of inclusion
  • HR and hiring practices that foster diversity
  • Creating a leadership team that reflects the composition of the company

Moderator Christine VanCampen, VP Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at CHG Healthcare speaks with our expert panel:

Watch the webinar:

Read the full transcript

Christine VanCampen:

Okay, hello everyone and welcome. I’m Christine VanCampen, CHG’s vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We’re thrilled that you took time out of your busy schedules to join us today. On behalf of our co-sponsor, Health eCareers, we’re thrilled to be holding this important discussion about DEI and to learn about some best practices you can implement in your organization. If you are a member of AAPPR, this webinar also counts as a continuing education credit for your CPRP certification. So, as you know, we’ve seen in recent years many organizations around the country taking steps to create more inclusive workplace cultures. We’ve seen some organizations expanding on their already robust programs while others are still just getting started. And today, we’re excited to really dive into some practical ways that DEI initiatives can be enacted in order to affect meaningful change regardless of where you are in your journey. To that end, we’ve assembled a wonderful panel of experts today who bring tremendous experience and insight related to implementing DEI initiatives in healthcare. Let’s meet them now. So, panelists please join me. All right. First we have Hannah Chadee. Hannah is the Director of Physician Talent Management at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to working at Emory Healthcare, Hannah was the director of physician relations at Jackson Hospital, where she oversaw all programs related to physician recruitment and spearheaded the launch of a new medical school campus on behalf of the hospital and also served as a liaison. She was active in the community and volunteered her time with several organizations including the Air War College, Junior League, Emerge Montgomery, Family Justice Center, and Montgomery Humane Society. Hannah, welcome and thank you for joining us today.

Hannah Chadee:

Thank you for having me.

Christine VanCampen:

Perfect. All right. Next we have Jessica Reynolds. Jessica is Candidate Experience Manager at ChenMed and has more than twelve years of experience in healthcare recruitment. She manages the recruiting and onboarding process for ChenMed in Tennessee and Missouri. ChenMed is the largest family-owned, physician-led primary care provider with a 100% model based of value-based care dedicated to rescuing seniors and geriatric patients in more than 100 centers nationwide. Jessica became an active AAPPR member in 2018 and currently sits as the co-chair of the AAPPR Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee. Jessica is also a proud graduate of Jackson State University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a minor in juvenile justice. Jessica, welcome. Thank you for joining us.

Jessica Reynolds:

Thank you.

Christine VanCampen:

It’s wonderful having you here. And finally, we have Russ Peal. Russ serves as the Director of Workforce Recruitment and Retention for the Veterans Health Administration, the nation’s largest integrated healthcare system comprised of 170 medical centers and over 1,000 community-based outpatient clinics serving over nine million enrolled veterans each year. In his role, Russ provides strategic direction and executive oversight for the agency’s national efforts to recruit, retain, and develop its most critical patient care and clinical support occupations. Russ is credited with establishing VHA’s first in-house specialized physician provider recruitment division and successfully leading the largest specialty recruitment and hiring initiative in its history. He has over 25 years of direct experience in the profession in both the private and public sectors and is a principal leader in the VA’s workforce diversity recruitment and talent pipeline development efforts. He is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, an Executive in Government Fellow with the Partnership for Public Service, and Russ is also a board member of the AAPPR and the executive champion of its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Council. Russ, welcome.

Russ Peal:

Thank you very much. Glad to be with you.

Christine VanCampen:

Well, thank you so much and thank you to all the panelists for joining us. I know I’m really excited to learn from you and hear about the insights that you’re going to share with all of us today. For our audience, just a few housekeeping items. If you do have questions as we go, please use the Q&A feature icon at the bottom of your Zoom screen. We will try to get to as many questions as we can. We’ll save time at the end of the presentation to address your question, so please don’t hesitate to pop in and let us know if you have something you’d like to hear from our panelists about. We will also be recording our webinar, and we will mail it to everyone that has registered, so we look forward to you sharing that within your organizations. So, with that, let’s get started. So today, our focus is to discuss practical ways that healthcare organizations can implement impactful DEI initiatives. And let’s start at a pretty high level by discussing organizational structure. That’s becoming a more interesting topic as I go out and talk with other DEI practitioners in this space. Jessica, I’d like to start with you. So, based on your experience, where do you believe DEI should live within an organization, and why?

Jessica Reynolds:

Well, I think that DEI needs to live within the entire organization, but I think it’s really important for it to be represented in the C-suites and the V-suites. You know, people need to see the representation in the leadership role so they know that there is opportunity there and they know that the diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are genuine. You know, working as a recruiter, a lot of times I hear conversations about, how do we get the buy-in within the organization? You know, if it’s at the workforce level, it needs to be a message that’s within the entire enterprise of the organization, so I think it’s very important for the leaders and the executive teams to have clear messaging, to have champions and people who are really living, breathing, and really implementing initiatives that can be actionable and seen across the entire organization. If that is not the case, it usually tends to, you know, fizzle out because it doesn’t have any backing behind it.

Christine VanCampen:

Yeah, I appreciate you sharing that. I would agree with your assessment of that. I’d love to hear from our other panelists. Russ or Hannah, anything you would add in terms of successful organizational structure or design that you’ve seen in your work?

Russ Peal:

Yes, I would just add to what Jess said. It really needs to be an executive strategic imperative in order for anyone in your organization to take it seriously or begin to [inaudible] for buy-in. Whether or not those goals are aspirational or not, it needs to be something clearly based out of the C- and V-suites and that everyone in the organization understands it’s a business imperative.

Christine VanCampen:

Yeah, absolutely. Hannah, any thoughts you would add around structure?

Hannah Chadee:

Yeah, I mean, just echoing what Jessica and Russ said, it certainly needs to be seen as an initiative coming from the top down, but all of the departments throughout an organization need to be bought into the concept as well. It can’t just be something that is like, we’re going to do this today, and you know, kind of the flavor of the month. Yay, we’re proud to be an organization that’s supporting an initiative that might be getting global attention or national attention due to whatever is occurring at that time. So, it has to be something that’s engrained in the culture of the organization, and that has to be not just from the C-suite but certainly from every department and every person in the organization must feel like it’s a part of the culture.

Christine VanCampen:

Yeah, absolutely. I think we’re all on the same page. I mean there has to be real clear buy-in and support from the top of the organization. I know for myself at CHG, and I think for each of you, we have that kind of support in our organizations, but I know not everybody does. Do any of you have any tips on how those can gain buy-in from the C-suite if they don’t already have that?

Jessica Reynolds:

I think what you can do to gain buy-in from the C-suite is present them with the data, show them statistics and analytics on the revenue that they can generate, you know, what they’re losing when they don’t have a diverse workforce. When you show them where the money is going and the opportunities they’re missing, then I think it will open their eyes to the importance of it not just being, as Hannah stated, the flavor of the month. It needs to be a long gain strategy within the entire organization moving forward.

Hannah Chadee:

I couldn’t agree more. I think that the C-suite loves to see the numbers and certainly with the revenue increase it always is an enticing strategy.

Christine VanCampen:

Absolutely. Let’s build on that. So of course, along with needing buy-in from the C-suite it is important – you know, a couple of you referenced not getting caught up in making what could be seen as symbolic gestures or performative DEI efforts, and we all know that those can ultimately undermine the impact and effectiveness of your true DEI initiative. So, Russ, I’d love to have you talk to us a little bit about some of the suggestions and best practices that you have for our audience around developing an authentic commitment to DEI.

Russ Peal:

Thank you. I think it’s also important to kind of begin responding to this whereby noting that this C-suite approach to diversity inclusion in a very real way could be a cultural transformation for a healthcare system, and it may counter, let’s say cultural norms. It takes a whole lot of courage for executive and C-suite folks to kind of present and promote it. But I think what’s really important when it comes to authenticity from performative is number one, how we communicate our imperative, how we communicate this initiative. It’s a long gain strategy and everyone kind of noticed this time, this last year, two years ago, everyone, as you pointed out in the beginning, were in a hurry to really demonstrate that they were engaged in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Like Jess said, a lot of those efforts really fizzled out at major corporate levels. So, communicating to every level of the organization from the top of the organization is a cultural business imperative and we’re very serious about this, is number one. Number two, involvement and engagement. One of the things that we did here is once we laid out our strategic and business diversity equity and inclusion imperatives, we went to every level of organizations to include even employees who had been brought on a year or less to get their input, their perspective in what does a diverse organization look like, what does an inclusive corporation looks like through your lens and begin framing our action plan from those who are already in our space from their input. And lastly, after you laid out some pretty actionable tangible goals, be very intentional about transparency, making sure all of the information, all of the milestones reached, all of the gains accomplished are widely publicized, widely celebrated. That is a key part of transforming a culture to not only getting buy-in or leading with the buy-in at the executive level but actually creating more interest and buy-in from the members of the organization that are kind of on the phrase, let me see how long this is going to last, this is going to fizzle out after three months, so I really begin to invest my energy in this. If they get a sense that the organization is authentic, intentional, and transparent, we can give the right approach to making inclusion and diversity a real highlight of our corporate footprint.

Christine VanCampen:

Those are great responses, Russ. You’ve got to put some sweat equity in, right? You got to roll up your sleeves, and to our earlier discussion, it’s critical to have C-suite buy-in, but you can’t stop there. You really do have to roll up your sleeves and connect with every level of the organization to understand what’s important to them and how do you address their needs as well so they see themselves in the work also. Really great recommendations. I’d like to open it up. Jessica, Hannah, anything you would add in terms of steps you’ve seen be successful around creating an authentic DEI approach versus performative?

Jessica Reynolds:

I’m going to piggyback off of Russ when he was expressing being intentional and being very transparent with the messaging and the communication– and that not only needs to take place from an internal perspective, but it also needs to be a part of the branding within that organization so that the community knows that this is an initiative that they’re going to stand on, and they really mean it, because it’s important for the workforce to reflect the community there within. That’s important. So, they want to be, you know, pioneers in that area on the diversity, equity, inclusion front, not only from an internal but for an external perspective as well.

Christine VanCampen:

Yeah, absolutely agree. Hannah, any thoughts you have on this regard?

Hannah Chadee:

I think I would just kind of expand a little bit upon the comment I made earlier about not being reactive. So, we’ve seen a lot of things occur over the last few years on a national scale where there’s things that have happened that have put a lot of companies in more of a reactive mode. And you’ve seen companies have really big campaigns around things that we’ve been reacting to. But how many companies have really implemented sustainable culture shifts within their organizations. And I can say that I’m proud to be a part of an organization that most certainly, prior to and currently, we definitely have a culture of, that I feel, it’s most certainly a culture that I am proud to be a part of that embraces DEI. But how many – I’ve just looked across the nation and I’ve seen so many, just very abrupt, and sudden DEI initiatives and I just wonder how many of them will be sustainable. So, I think that that’s just something to look for and just to be aware of. How many will sustain themselves and how many are just reactive and more just there to kind of, you know, show some type of awareness to their employees and to the public, but are they true DEI initiatives?

Christine VanCampen:

Yeah. Great suggestions and reflections. I will add from CHG’s perspective, you know, I think I learned early on in standing up our program, we talk about courage as a DEI practitioner, but the courage also is in relation to saying, we have to go slow to go fast. And so, you know, we know we’re always under a lot of pressure to do more and more and more. That’s what feels performative. But to really have a lasting, sustainable long-term DEI strategy, it takes time to stand it up. And so, having the courage to hold your critics at bay and say, we’re doing this the right way and we’re doing it for the long haul and so we need you to hang with us here. I’m glad in hindsight that we took that strategy, but it was not easy to do. It sounds like we’ve all sort of had similar experiences in this space. Staying in the vein of authenticity, you know another way we demonstrate our authenticity and commitment to the work is by the relationships we build within our different communities. Hannah, I know you’ve been pretty community-minded and involved for quite some time. Why are community relationships so important to DEI and what advice would you have for our audience members on what they can do in that space?

Hannah Chadee:

I think that it is critical to be involved in your community if you’re looking to, specifically around the work that I’ve done in my career as recruitment, specifically around physicians. If you look back over the last 10 or 15 years, the population of those going into careers of physicians has changed, drastically in fact. It’s shifted to around 40-something percent females going into medical school, so you can imagine what that might look like, the partners of those who are going into medical school, the partners are, you know, male, female, it’s looking very different, the demographic around what that might look like for, you know, the career path of folks who are significant others of those who are finishing. So, you might have folks who are also in dual careers, so you have physicians married to physicians or high-powered couples with dual-career paths. So, you’re looking to be ingrained in the community, you want to, as a recruiter, find out what is going on in your community. You need to develop relationships with the Chambers of Commerce, the bankers to help connect the physician spouses who are coming in to interview. You’re not just recruiting the physician; you’re recruiting the entire family. You need to get to know, is there ballet, theater, sports available? Even the things you might not think about, getting involved in like, is there programs for children with special needs? I’ve recruited a physician family who, actually several physician families with children who had special needs, and I happened to know about what was available in our community. And just having a presence in the community will allow for you to better connect your physicians and their families and recruit that entire family unit because it’s not just the physician who’s making a decision, a majority of the time, and, in fact, a lot of research shows 80% of the time it’s the physician partner, physician spouse, who is making the decision on where they will live, because they’re looking for a career and they’re going to be ingrained in the community as well, even more so than that physician who’s going to be just going to the hospital every day. So, you’re looking to recruit the entire family unit so it’s very important to be ingrained in the community and know what’s available in the community and just have that connection to the community and give back. So, I think it’s important to kind of have that connection because the community is going to help you recruit that physician.

Christine VanCampen:

Yeah, so the sweat equity doesn’t end within your organizational structure. You actually then have to continue and extend it outside your walls and it makes complete sense. That’s the community you’re serving, and so being an active member.

Hannah Chadee:

And it’s the diversity around it. It’s not just knowing; it’s being authentic with your physician you’re recruiting. You’re not just recruiting a Caucasian male; you’re recruiting diverse populations of providers. You want to recruit diversity so you need to know where you want to be involved with and know, is there a mosque, is there a temple, what is available in my community for the diverse population that I’m wanting to attract, because your physician population that you’re looking at, they will know if they are being interviewed by someone who doesn’t know about the community and the community that they’re wanting to be recruited to. And if you seem like someone who’s not authentic and doesn’t know what’s available, and you only know about that church that’s on that corner for that one specific population, they may not want to join that type of community. So, you definitely need to be ingrained in your community and know about what’s available for all of them.

Christine VanCampen:

I completely agree. Jessica, Russ, what would you add? Any experiences you had in working with your communities in developing relationships.

Jessica Reynolds:

Most certainly. I think it’s important to take it a step outside of our role, even in recruitment, giving back to the community as well, positioning yourself as a community subject matter expert, and being a resource to people outside of your organization. So, volunteer, you’re volunteering, being a panelist, for your local community schools, and going in and working with students. Those things are important for exposure so that we can increase diversity and starting even at a younger age. So, when you go into the community and you’re being a part of what’s going on around you, it’ll allow you to be able to kind of build future workforces moving forward.

Russ Peal:

I completely agree. I actually had a recruiter – and I don’t know if I can add anymore to what my two colleagues have said so well – but I did want to point out I have a recruiter that absolutely sealed a placement because of his engagement with the university’s music program because the family’s child had a specialized type of violin training course that they were involved in, rare type, I think it’s called a Suzuki violin, and it was only because that recruiter was already engaged with that university’s department, they were aware of them, we were able to connect the mom and the young prodigy to the university’s music director, and it was done after that. So, Hannah and Jessica are absolutely correct, that never would have happened had that recruiter not invested himself in the weeds of that community. They were aware of what he had to offer, and he recruited an entire family for the entire community. And you could only do that when you’re engaged in the community.

Christine VanCampen:

Absolutely. What a great example to illustrate; that is authenticity. You’re actively in the work, and that’s how you break through that. I love that example. And I think similarly, there’s great opportunities through your volunteerism programs through your organizations. You know, we offer volunteer time off at CHG every year and we’re actively looking for nonprofit partners in the diversity, equity, and inclusion space so that we can provide opportunities to our employees to go out and serve and get involved in their communities. So, I think that is a really interesting and compelling element to DEI strategy that is often overlooked. And so, I really appreciate each of you articulating why that is so important, and to not overlook building relationships within your communities. In addition to kind of what we talked about so far, you know, we know that once we gain buy-in and we’re developing our strategic plans and gaining relationships, we also have to take a really critical look internally into our own policies and procedures and practices that we’re implementing every day to make sure that we are actively eliminating implicit bias. Of course, in our hiring and our promotional processes, but frankly, throughout our people processes and in any organization. So, I’d like you guys to talk to us a little bit about how does implicit bias show up in our hiring practices? And Hannah, if I can start with you, what have you seen happen in that space?

Hannah Chadee:

I think that what I’ve seen in my career is that so often the top layer in many organizations, it does remain the same, and that’s because the individuals in that spot become very comfortable and they typically turn over when there’s either a retirement or unfortunately, a passing, and a lack of a succession plan. And I hate to say that, but we fail to plan, or we just say we’re planning and we continue to plan but without a succession plan. And when we fail to do that, we fail to plan for diversifying as it pertains to gender and race and then we don’t have a plan. So, I think that it’s important for all of us to consider a succession plan and having a real goal. So, when we have a measurable goal that we can plan for, we can think about in five years, I want to diversify by gender and race 30% of my top leadership. If you do that, then you can have a measurable goal and you can look at it and say, have I done this? You can see, did I reach my goal? We don’t do that, and I think we don’t do it for a lot of different reasons, but I think it’s something that we should kind of examine ourselves and look at why are we not doing that?

Christine VanCampen:

I completely agree. I’ve observed, rightfully so, we spend a lot of energy on the talent acquisition and recruitment and hiring, and that’s a critical component, of course. But if you’re not applying the similar amount of effort and focus on how you’re retaining, engaging, growing, and ultimately retiring your workforce, you’re going to continually be battling your desires for representation. So, I think, you know, these next couple of minutes talking more broadly about how does implicit bias show up, how does it affect our hiring stage, kind of what are we seeing in terms of moving people through the organization, succession, planning and offboarding? So, let’s build on that a little bit more. Russ, I know you’ve seen through all of your experience, implicit bias kind of show up in a lot of different areas. Let’s talk about in the hiring stage, do you have examples for us of where you’ve seen organizations struggle overlooking maybe qualified candidates being passed over? Talk to us a little bit about your experience there.

Russ Peal:

Very, very good point. And this is one of the ways where the cultural norm kind of gets disturbed by unwritten policy or bias when it comes to candidates. And we had one case where we were recruiting, and I want to say was for an oncology position at a rural location, and of course we meet with the hiring managers to make sure we have all of the particulars of what they’re looking for in candidates. And I’m kind of reviewing recruiter productivity and noticed that there had been 16 candidates referred to this particular search and none of those candidates were considered beyond the initial CV screening and all that kind of stuff. It turns out that each of those candidates represent an ethnic group that was not of the hiring manager, and I had to have a discussion with the hiring manager because we were expanding resources and all that kind of stuff to actually find qualified candidates. And I had a very good discussion with running through each of the candidates I had presented and having the hiring manager kind of give me an explanation about what was it about this candidate that didn’t meet your needs for clinical direct patient care. After about the third candidate he knew exactly where I was on it, and I had to kind of take a stand as an executive and say, well, here’s the deal, we’re probably going to have to withhold further support for this search until you begin to entertain the diverse candidate pool we present to you that represents the qualifications, expectations, competencies that you told us that were most important. That was a game change. Obviously, after about two weeks, once the executive of that hospital learned that we had kind of pulled back our support, wanting to know why, that was another candid conversation we had, but it allowed that executive to re-emphasize and refresh or refocus that executive’s imperative on having a diverse provider workforce and kind of got matters taken care of. But it showed up in a very real way for the disappointment of about 16 providers that hadn’t been considered because of the manager’s implicit bias.

Christine VanCampen:

That’s such a great practical example, Russ. We talked earlier about using data and how do you use data to identify where you have the opportunity areas and start the conversations and in your case it sounds like that had the desired result, and in my experience as well, it’s kind of one conversation at a time. And that’s back to this is a long game we’re all playing here, but I couldn’t agree more with the concept of using data to identify the gap, and then having conversations, open and candid conversations about the root causes. Jessica, anything you would add to this.

Jessica Reynolds:

I would like to add that, just as Russ stated, that presenting the data is very important, and that’s also why the messaging from C-suite needs to be consistent because when you look at these things as well, it can also have legal ramifications as well that can be detrimental to the organization. So, you look at internal promotions, or if it was an internal search, so there’s so many things that can be negatively impacted when we allow our implicit bias to take control of our decision making. So it’s important to bring all parties together, and like Russ said, have those conversations, show them the metrics, show them the data so that they can see how the organization will ultimately be impacted.

Christine VanCampen:

Yeah, that’s great. So, Jessica, I want to stay with you. So, let’s double click a little bit more into that. So, we’re talking about, how do we ensure people across the organization have opportunities to grow, advance, increased representation regardless of where they sit. Do you have some examples, some methods you’ve used in your organization that have shown to be successful in that regard?

Jessica Reynolds:

Yes, ma’am. So, the organization I currently work with has done an amazing job for over thirty years of really being on that diversity, equity, inclusion train, and what they have done is actually develop their own internal leadership training opportunities. And like Russ talked about, make it transparent, make it visible, so even in our pitches when we’re recruiting and resourcing candidates, that is going to be a topic of discussion with those candidates to let them know we’re invested into your success and your growth within this organization. So we’re very transparent about what that process looks like, connecting them with other clinical leaders within the organization so that they can tell them their route and their success stories so they know exactly what it will take to grow within the organization. And that’s a lot of organizations that really have that hyper growth that we’ve experienced over the last year, so I think it’s very important going in knowing that there is a succession plan and there is a career path versus saying, okay, if I come in and I do well, then I might be promoted. That happens a lot within organizations, but when it’s plain that there is something there that allows you to get that coaching, that development, and that training, you really get more buy-in.

Christine VanCampen:

I completely agree, and I’ll kind of bring data back up. I think you know we have probably the most robust data when it comes to recruiting and hiring. It gets a little harder, you know, at least for CHG, as we move into our moving people through the promotional process. So, for our audience, I think just recognizing there continually has to be a development of new data so that you can understand current state and identify how to help troubleshoot those areas that you’re not seeing the results you look for. So, for instance, we just created a new report around promotional rates, and we are able to kind of monitor and assess across the organization the rates of promotion across a number of demographic factors, and really, again, to the hiring example Russ shared, take a surgical approach into where can we uncover there’s differences in the rate of promotion. So, I think data enablement is becoming more and more crystal clear to me that you have to have actual data to be able to [inaudible] some of these things. A great example. Thank you so much for that, Jessica. Hannah, anything you would add in terms of kind of succession planning, you mentioned kind of some of the senior folks at the top of the organizational structure. What would you add to this part of the conversation?

Hannah Chadee:

I think I’m going to add an experience that I personally had and saw happen previously, not with this employer. It’s so easy to treat people who look like us differently or treat them different than we would people who don’t look like us. So, I think we have to have the courage to examine our own behavior and think about, am I treating this person – so being in a leadership role – am I treating this person who looks like me differently than I’m treating this person who doesn’t look like me. And we have to have the courage to examine our own behavior. And I think that so many times we don’t look at that because it’s so easy and comfortable to treat people who look like us differently than we do people who don’t look like us. And I saw that person move up through the ranks very quickly. I’m talking about people who looked the same. And for someone who didn’t look – I didn’t look like them at all – it was so disheartening because I knew that I was working really hard and putting in all that time and effort, and I saw this person who, I was doing a lot of their work and not getting that same upward mobility. It was so disheartening, and I don’t want to ever do that to someone else. And I know I have to have the courage to examine my own behavior. So, I would just want to make sure that we all have the courage to do that so we all need to just always keep that in front of mind because it’s so easy to fall into that. You know, it’s so comfortable to treat someone differently just because they look like us. We’re always looking to, oh, am I treating this person differently because they don’t look like us.

Christine VanCampen:

That’s a great point.

Hannah Chadee:

Yeah. It’s always like, oh well, they don’t look like us and they’re different, so I need to make sure I’m not treating them differently. It’s less noticeable when you’re treating them differently because they do look like us. So, we need to kind of look at the flip side of the coin and make sure that we’re not going too far on the other side as well. I just want to make sure I leave us with that thought as well because I will give us one example– and I’ve talked to a couple of people about this because it’s a funny example, kind of, and not funny all at the same time – but I’m half Indian, and a private practice called me once and they asked me, hey, Hannah, we’re interviewing an Indian candidate. It was a physician candidate. They said, you know, we need to take them out to a vegetarian restaurant and what other Indian doctors do you think we should invite? And I just was like, wanting to make sure I put it in a politically correct way answer their question but didn’t offend them at all, and was like, “No, no, hold on. Let me call this candidate and find out more about them.” And once I did, I realized, whoa! You know this candidate eats meat, is from the U.S., would not be interested in going to an Indian restaurant, loves Italian food. We need to only invite the referring physicians, which would be general surgery, general surgeons, and primary care. Like, please, we do not need to offend this candidate by just inviting a bunch of Indian doctors and taking them to a vegetarian restaurant. So, we need to be thinking, we need to treat everyone the same regardless of if they look like us, or they don’t look like us. So, anyways, that’s my last little – I just wanted to leave us with that because I think that it’s so easy to look at someone and say, oh, they’re Indian, let’s invite a bunch of Indian people to dinner, or we forget that, oh, this person looks like me, this a colleague, and we forget that we’re actually treating them differently than we would treat someone else, and we’re moving them up quickly through the ranks. And there is a person that looks like me at the wayside who’s just waiting for an opportunity, and they never get to advance.

Christine VanCampen:

That’s such a great reminder and I think it leaves me kind of just realizing again how critically important emotional intelligence and self-awareness is, not just for us as practitioners but across our organizations and communities, so really important reminders. So, we’ve talked quite a bit about everything from hiring, to promotion, succession, planning, et cetera. My last question, I want to talk about a different area that isn’t often brought up in DEI discussion, so let’s talk about something that affects everything we do every day: diversity of thought. Jessica, would you mind telling us what diversity of thought is and why it is so important to consider in your DEI efforts?

Jessica Reynolds:

So, diversity of thought is just the concept of appreciating everybody’s opinion, everybody’s thoughts whether you agree with them or not. You know, everybody has had experiences that have shaped who they are up until this point and those things can be valuable. Just like Hannah said, you don’t want to assume what a person’s experience has been personally or professionally just because we may identify with that person. That’s where relationship building comes in. You want to get to know that person, and just ask, treat them as any other individual that you are getting to know and find out where they grew up, what their family dynamics look like, schools, things like that that shaped who they are today, things that they are passionate about. And a lot of times, you’ll have that light bulb go off, that aha moment where you can see where the personality comes from or their opinions about things, and it kind of softens the mood. But if you go in with a preconceived notion of who this person is, I think it sets everybody up for failure.

Christine VanCampen:

I’m passionate about this topic. I think we at CHG have leaned into Myers & Briggs as one way for us to better understand. You know, we may look the same, but I’m going to approach this completely differently than you will, but that’s personality driven or thought driven. Yeah, it’s an often overlooked, but I think critical component, to DEI.  Russ, Hannah, anything you would add on diversity of thought?

Russ Peal:

I’d love to add here because the diversity of thought and experience and perspective is probably, as you said, probably the most overlooked piece of the inclusion discussion, but I like it into this: When you have a space where diversity of perspective is welcomed, it’s like adding seasoning to your favorite dish. It’s like multiple seasonings, it’s like soul food in the organization, if you will. It’s like adding multiple layers of different types of seasoning to the organization and it adds flavor to the organization, it adds substance to the organization, and I believe it actually creates sort of the lost space of civility because we know that every voice at the table is a voice worth hearing and otherwise you wouldn’t be at the table. So, that’s so important, and I just can’t speak enough about the type of health of an organization or divisions within an organization have when there is a diversity of perspective, different ways of thinking things – it doesn’t mean it’s wrong or right, doesn’t mean it’s good or bad, it’s different and its different seasonings that make the entire dish rock.

Christine VanCampen:

I love your analogy, but admittedly we’re doing this over lunch, so you kind of make me hungry.

Russ Peal:

Sorry about that.

Christine VanCampen:

I loved your analogy, Russ. That’s a great way to think about it and put it. I could talk to you all day long; this has been such a great conversation. We do have some questions from our audience, and we’ve left some time at the end of the webinar so we can address those. So, I’d like to start with a question from Kevin Hardy. So how can you measure whether or not a healthcare organization’s DEI program is working or not working? Are there penalties if a company says they have a DEI program but actually have no data to validate? Would anybody like to tackle that one?

Jessica Reynolds:

I can jump in. If there is no change, you know, you don’t see anything different from the workforce perspective. Like we’re talking about people coming into the organization that have a different mindset, that bring a different flavor, that bring a different value add to that organization. If you see that kind of stall and remain the same, then you know those diversity, equity, inclusive initiatives may not be effective at that time. If there is no growth within the organization for promotional standpoint, so it’s several things, and I think representation is a key determining factor as to how successful that organization is being with their initiatives.

Christine VanCampen:

Russ, Hannah, anything you would add?

Russ Peal:

I think this goes kind of back to how it’s communicated, how milestones are acknowledged and recognized, and how transparent everything is. Jess is exactly correct. If we said that we ought to see some changes and again, with respect to the type of work it takes to do that, some types of cultural norms you have to kind of push through, some initiatives might take a little bit longer than others to actually see tangible results. But even if employees, even if staff is beginning to see a shift in how we think and embrace – and that starts with an opening of ideas and thoughts and having those types of forums where we can kind of lay out tangible actionable strategies around this inclusion discussion. But at the end of the day, if an organization sets out a list of goals in the diversity of included space, and one to two years later you’re not even seeing it on the frontend of recruitment with diverse or training programs that allow folks that are within the middle managerial area of the organization to kind of progress upward, then that’s going to be – you won’t need anything else, you won’t even [inaudible] because the optics and the objective reality shows us exactly how much of an imperative this is for the business.

Christine VanCampen:

Yeah, absolutely. Hannah?

Hannah Chadee:

I would have to agree with what Russ just said. It goes back to the measurable goals, and it goes back to kind of what I was saying earlier about the C-suite saying, oh, this is what we’re doing to address whatever’s happening in the nation at the time, and then they have a plan, but they continue to plan, and they have no measurable goals, and they’re just kind of saying things. If they’re never reaching a measurable goal, then they’re probably just saying things. I would just have to always go with what can be measured, and if you’re able to reach your measurable goals at an organization, then clearly you’re making progress. If you’re not, then you’re just continuing to plan the plan.

Christine VanCampen:

Yeah, I agree with all of you. And I think also I would add, on our strategic plan, we created a pillar of focus just on our commitment and creating kind of an investment strategy and governance structure. And your goals aren’t always data-driven goals, they’re milestone attainment and progress towards your initiative. So, I would say just the penalty – there was a question about, what are the penalties, and the penalties are we’ve got a pretty savvy society anymore and if you’re performative it’s going to show up pretty quickly, and you’re going to deal with those consequences. It’s a really great question. Let’s take another question from our audience. So, what are some actionable initiatives that an organization should start with? So, someone who is just beginning their journey, what advice would you have around actionable steps that someone can take?

Russ Peal:

I could probably begin here. I think it’s important that we not rush to hire a Chief Diversity Officer. That kind of comes across as more performative than anything else. I think it’s very important for the leaders of the organization to state clearly what their inclusion and diversity goals are and immediately start where you are and begin to engage, whether in focus groups, you can have folks kind of lead your employees and the staff in discussions. I think it really begins with understanding where you are currently as an organization on the diversity, equity, and inclusion scale. And the best way to kind of determine that absence of data is kind of get a sense of what you’re committed staff, how they view things, see things, how they’ve experienced things, even as employees of an organization that there was never really a forum to actually kind of bring to the table and discuss. This gives everyone, I think, kind of a collective ownership in creating this diverse culture and inclusive culture. Everyone takes ownership of it, and just like performative acts from corporate levels, those that generally [inaudible] against it will kind of be considered the performative ones in this new cultural re-shift, this cultural shifting. So, I think it’s really important to kind of clarify what it is we want to do, and we need to begin engaging those that are taking care of business for you to help creating the diversity-inclusive client for an organization.

Christine VanCampen:

Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of companies move too quickly through those early stages of, why does this work matter to us. I would add, I think for those of you that are just starting, I would recommend really spend some time looking at your culture, your values, your purpose, and really understanding, how does this work align with and complement and support our existing culture and what we’re trying to achieve as an organization. And that’s the approach we took, and I feel now eighteen plus months in, it’s really served us well because it is authentic to who we are; it’s not a separate thing over here. So, my advice to the questioner is, don’t move too quickly through understanding what that means, that will stand the test of time and help you with longevity. Really great question. Jessica, anything you would add.

Jessica Reynolds:

I just second both of you guys’ sentiment. Don’t rush the process, really get the boots on the ground, get your feelers out with your existing workforce, determine how they see the organization, because we can learn a lot from the people that are there. Again, we assume a lot that people are happy in their roles, we assume that people may not want to be promoted. So, we need to find out what people really want within their existing space.

Christine VanCampen:

Absolutely. Okay, I think we’ve got time for one more question, and it’s a nice segue which is, how long does it take to implement a successful DEI program? If everyone is on board at every level, would three to five years be a reasonable expectation?

Russ Peal:

Wow! I think it depends on the size of the organization and the commitment, especially executives and mid-level managers to be champions of this. And again, we’re talking about a 350,000 employee organization that I’m a part of and we’re still working on being careful to organically diffuse [inaudible] on our own diversity, a workforce effort. So, it takes a while. But I think it’s important to have some times where you can actually mark and look back at an organization to see how far we’ve come. But I think it’s even more important than that to make sure the efforts are organic, make sure that the efforts are really designed to not just lack on performative, performative, performative, and demonstrate those as potential wins, but to actually move methodically, move intentionally, and be able to designate times you can look back as an organization and see how well you’ve matched against whatever your measurable goal was. That creates buy-in, it creates more inclusion from those that have been on the fray to make sure that we’re really doing something authentically and with great intent, not performative. I wouldn’t get so locked up on if it’s not done by this year, or it’s not done within twelve months, we’re just going to completely scrap it. This is cultural change; it’s corporate change that is best sustainable when it’s organically diffused.

Christine VanCampen:

That’s right. I think culture is, you’re never done, you’re never done with DEI, you’re never done with culture, right? So, these done correctly are long-standing initiatives within your company. I will say, having just walked us through our own journey, what I would respond to the audience member is, you need to create a multi-year phased approach. That’s often where people get overwhelmed with what they need to do. So, we created a three-to-five-year strategic plan, and then you narrow it down to, okay, that’s what we want to do in five years, but what do we want to do this year. And you got to be able to zoom out to the long-term plan and then zoom back into what can we do today, and it’s not easy to do. I’m not going to suggest that’s easy, but I would say that that’s the right way to think about standing up a new program. Hannah and Jessica, anything else you would add?

Hannah Chadee:

I think taking – I don’t want to call it baby steps – but taking steps that are measurable in the right direction, and not biting off more than you can chew, putting things in the right perspective and going in the right direction. I think that you want to have things that you guys can celebrate together as an organization, and Russ said that earlier, you know, be able to reflect and say, yes, we were here, now we’re here, and be able to celebrate your milestones and where you were, and how far you’ve come. And have those goals where you can say this is what we’re doing, and as an organization celebrate those together. I think as long as you’re moving in the right direction and you have those goals, then that’s a great thing.

Christine VanCampen:

That’s right. And know it’s the long game, so just be prepared. Having some resiliency and sort of eyes wide open that there’s going to be setbacks and wins and you’ve just got to stay at it. Well, this has been such an engaging conversation and I’m thrilled we’ve had such a wonderful audience and some great questions coming in through the Q&A button. We are not going to have time, unfortunately, to address all of the questions that have been submitted to us, but we will be distributing the webinar recording, and then the CHG team will work with Healthy Careers and our panelists on your responses for those of you that asked questions in the chat, given that we won’t have time to get to everything today. So, before we wrap, panelists, is there any last word of advice or encouragement you would offer to our audience members who are out there fighting the good fight and doing this difficult work?

Jessica Reynolds:

Be genuine, be authentic to who you are, and be consistent, and it will work out in the end.

Christine VanCampen:

That’s beautiful. I needed that, Jessica. Thank you. Russ, Hannah, what would you like to leave our audience with?

Russ Peal:

I would just say, especially to my provider recruitment colleagues out there, is begin to kind of envision yourself as the, perhaps, conduit that would help introduce and facilitate these facts of discussions with the key decision makers in your organization. I believe we represent that type of influence that can influence organizational change, so kind of embrace it.

Christine VanCampen:

That’s right. I love that. Hannah, what about you?

Hannah Chadee:

I think I want to leave us with something I said earlier, that it takes courage for us to examine our own behaviors, and to make change, it takes each and every one of us, not just an organizational head. So, I think, if every single one of us examined our own behaviors and treated everyone the way that we would want to be treated, and we treated everyone the same, then we could really make a shift just in the way everyone gets treated in the world.

Christine VanCampen:

That would be wonderful. I hope we can achieve that goal, Hannah. Panelists, I can’t thank you enough. Again, on behalf of CHG and Healthy Careers, we’re so grateful for your participation. Audience members, thank you so much. We know everyone has very busy day jobs, so taking the time to talk with us and share ideas and practices is really important to all of us, so we hope you’ve all found this to be valuable experience. You will be receiving a recording and again, thank you all for joining us today. I loved our conversation, and I definitely learned a few things that I’m going to apply. So, panelists, audience, thank you so much. Have a wonderful day.

About the author

Jen Hunter

Jen Hunter has been a marketing writer for over 20 years. She enjoys telling the stories of healthcare providers and sharing new, relevant, and the most up-to-date information on the healthcare front. Jen lives in Salt Lake City with her husband, two kids, and their geriatric black Lab. She enjoys all things outdoors-y, but most of all she loves rock climbing in the Wasatch mountains.

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