Gender and Diversity in Healthcare Employment: Breaking Barriers and Promoting Inclusion

Undoubtedly, your healthcare organization has made a staunch commitment to DEI—Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. And that’s terrific. But as far as the healthcare industry goes, there’s still a long way to go.



When leveraged effectively, DEI can make a tangible difference to patients, employees and organizations. In this blog, we review its transformative powers, see where the healthcare industry stands, and discuss strategies for creating a more diverse, inclusive workplace.


How DEI Can Transform Healthcare Organizations   

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), study after study shows that patients experience better outcomes when care is provided by diverse provider teams.

These studies find that diversity leads to increased innovation, improved risk assessments, and better communication within teams. (And of course, studies also find that patients communicate better with providers who look like and talk like they do.)

Strikingly, the NIH concludes that as provider diversity increases, so does an organization’s financial performance.

That confirms a recent McKinsey study, which establishes that healthcare organizations ranking in the top quartile for having gender-diverse executive teams are 25% more likely to enjoy above-average profitability than those with teams ranking in the fourth quartile.

Furthermore, organizations ranking in the top quartile for having ethnically/culturally diverse executive teams are 36% more profitable that those in the fourth quartile.

In other words, advancing DEI isn’t just a good thing to do, it’s good for business.

How the Healthcare Industry Scores on DEI  

According to McKinsey, the healthcare industry outperforms other segments in terms of female representation—making up 66% of entry-level employees, compared to 49% across all industries.

But here’s the rub: that percentage drops off as women ascend the career ladder, declining to 30% in C-suite roles. It’s even lower for women of color, who account for 20% of entry-level representation, but just 5% in the C-suite.

Beyond women, the underrepresentation of minorities is an industry-wide problem. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) most recent data, 63.9% of practicing physicians are white, followed by 20.6% Asian, 6.9% Hispanic, and 5.7% Black.

But there is good news, too. The AAMC also finds that diversity is increasing among medical school students. In the 2022-2023 class, women made up 56% of matriculants, Hispanic students made up 12% and Black students made up 10%—all increases over past years.  

This raises the question: how can you attract your share of diverse healthcare professionals—while ensuring their representation across every facet and level of your organization?


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10 Ways to Improve Diversity and Inclusion in Your Workforce    

It’s one thing to make a commitment to DEI and another to act on it—often because bias is unconscious and deeply ingrained. Here are 10 ways to take effective action.

  1. Conduct a gap analysis, assessing how your diversity levels compare to national benchmarks and identifying key areas for improvement.
  2. Establish clear, measurable diversity targets for women and underrepresented minorities at every level—including the board and senior management. Then, start tracking your progress.
  3. Form diverse search committees. When committees are themselves diverse, it ensures a broader range of perspectives in the selection process.
  4. Create objective evaluation criteria for hiring and promotions. Operate transparently, so it’s clear that decisions are merit-based.
  5. Require diverse candidate slates for all hiring and promotion opportunities, which leads to a more equitable selection process.
  6. Use proven development strategies like mentoring and sponsorship to help women and minorities advance within your organization.
  7. Provide work-life balance support to working moms, offering benefits like childcare facilities or subsidies, flexible work schedules and paid parental leave.
  8. Provide unconscious bias training to those who evaluate candidates, fostering more objective decision-making.
  9. Make DEI part of your managers’ job description and link executive compensation to achieving specific DEI outcomes.
  10. Work on developing your brand reputation as an employer who is passionate about DEI. Over time, this will attract more diverse talent to you.      


Finally, expand your recruiting efforts to reach more diverse candidates. Based on our experience, we can tell you that they’re out there!

At UrbanBound, we specialize in delivering exceptional relocation experiences for healthcare professionals. We can expertly relocate your incoming physicians, nurses, executive staff, and others—just as we already do for organizations like the Mayo Clinic and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

For more information and ideas, learn about our relocation solutions for healthcare organizations. It’s yet another way to take your DEI initiatives to the next level.

Human Resources Today