Diversity and Inclusion in Healthcare: Building a Stronger Workforce

Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives—aka DEI—play an important role in every industry, but especially in healthcare.

That’s because DEI programs do more than help hospitals burnish their brand (although they accomplish that, too). At the end of the day, DEI benefits patients, communities, and employees. As it happens, it’s an effective business strategy, too.



The Business Benefits of DEI in Healthcare         

It’s a given: research has shown that patients relate better to providers who look like they do—i.e., who belong to the same racial/ethnic demographic. The more diverse your hospital staff, the more ably you can serve a diverse patient population.

Plus, when healthcare employers bring professionals with different approaches and backgrounds together, it enriches the staff’s collective knowledge. The resulting exchange of ideas fuels creativity, sparking more innovative treatments.

Healthcare innovation leads to more positive outcomes, so multiple studies have found that hospitals with diverse staff are more profitable than their less-diverse counterparts.

So, at a time when hospitals’ operating margins remain alarmingly low, accelerating DEI efforts makes sense on every level.


4 Ways to Create a More Diverse, Inclusive Workforce 

It’s not enough to make a commitment to DEI, you need an action plan—ideally, one that incorporates these four steps.


Set DEI Goals and Track Your Metrics

Chances are, you’re already tracking your workforce demographics by race, gender, etc. Make sure that you’re tracking by various positions and levels, too—from C-suite executives and physicians to hourly-paid cleaning and food service staff.

Then, compare your diversity ratios to both national averages and your specific patient demographics, especially with regard to management and direct care providers. You may find that your overall diversity rates are in line with your community’s—but not across the board.

Whatever your metrics reveal themselves to be, this allows you to target key areas for improvement, as you continue to measure your progress toward those goals.


Root Out Unconscious Bias in Your HR Practices

We all have unconscious biases—deep-seated prejudices and stereotypes targeting those unlike ourselves. The problem is, these biases are so insidious, we can’t see them in ourselves. And yet, historically, such biases have limited the hiring and promotion of quality minority candidates.

In fact, according to one Deloitte study, a full 39% of employees reported experiencing bias at least once a month. For this reason, it’s important to provide your staff with vigorous anti-bias training, especially for those in HR, management, and talent acquisition roles.

Similarly, it’s essential to require diversity in your search committees and candidate slates, while ensuring an objective and transparent evaluation process.



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Expand the Scope of Your Recruiting Efforts

You’re not the only healthcare employer searching for diverse candidates. If the healthcare talent shortage doesn’t already have you casting a wider net for applicants, your DEI goals should.

It’s never been more essential for healthcare employers to put a vigorous long-distance recruiting program in place. Don’t simply seek faraway candidates; find new ways to entice them to join your team.

You might start by viewing your entire application process through your candidates’ eyes. How warmly does your staff welcome candidates? How carefully do you choreograph their introduction to your city? How quickly do you extend a formal offer, not to mention reimburse their travel expenses?

All of these add up to an impressive courtship experience—the kind that prompts candidates to say “yes.”


Make Diverse Hires Feel Valued from the Start

Great employers make their people feel cared for, especially in high-pressure environments like healthcare. For many physicians and nurses, an employer that prioritizes work-life balance—say, that offers a somewhat lighter, more flexible work schedule—is going to get their attention.

So is one that offers thoughtful benefits, shows its appreciation frequently, and nurtures a positive work culture. When you demonstrate through your words and actions that you truly care, you don’t need to offer the highest compensation in the industry in order to attract the candidates you want.


Make Us Part of Your DEI Action Plan        

Admittedly, change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to move the needle. But improving your DEI starts with a viable action plan—and in that regard, we can help.

At UrbanBound, we specialize in supporting the healthcare industry’s recruiting and retention efforts through our candidate conversion and targeted relocation solutions.

In short, we can help you win over the candidates you seek—and yes, we’re deeply committed to DEI, too.

Human Resources Today