Archive Diversity in Surgery 2019

It's Time to Embrace Healthcare Diversity

Diversity is not just an important moral issue - it's an existential economic one.

Shamayne Braman

Shamayne Braman, EdM


FACES OF SURGERY Providers who understand that patient populations are changing will be more accepting of various individuals they treat.

At the nation's third largest healthcare organization, Kaiser Permanente, nearly 60% of the 217,000 staff members are people of color. Three-quarters of all employees, nearly half of the executive team, and more than a third of the physicians are women.

At the brand-new 142-hospital CommonSpirit Health network, the result of a merger between CHI and Dignity Health, the CEO and the COO are both African American men.

At New York State's Northwell Health, following a concerted effort lasting almost a decade to promote equity, diversity and inclusion, half of the 68,000 employees are minorities and 72% are women.

For these facilities and many others, including my own, diversity and inclusion is more than just an issue of right and wrong. It's a business strategy — a way to reach out to reflect and attract the members of 140 cultures currently represented in the U.S., and to tap into the creativity afforded by different perspectives and different worldviews.

How diverse is your organization? How well do your employees understand, accept and value differences among people of different skin colors, genders, ages, religions, disabilities and sexual orientations, and involve and empower them to meaningfully participate? Increasingly, the answer may be critical to the future of your organization. Thanks to changing demographics, evolving reimbursement policy, workforce challenges and a more competitive marketplace, diversity is now not just a moral issue, but an existential economic one. Here's why.

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