Health Care

Views on diversity efforts differ by race, study finds

Minority and white healthcare workers differ in their view of how diverse and inclusive their work environment is, according to a broad new analysis.Results of a survey released this week that examined responses of more than 113,000 caregivers, including 3,000 physicians, at more than 500 facilities showed employee engagement overall was higher when individuals believed their organizations valued creating a diverse and inclusive environment. The results seemed to indicate an employee’s race greatly influenced their views of their organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts based on the amount of agreement seen with statements such as “All employees have an equal opportunity for advancement regardless of their background.” Survey respondents who identified as being white tended to have the most positive views on diversity and inclusion within their organization. But Black healthcare employees on average reported having much lower perceptions of the level of diversity and inclusion within their workplace environments. The analysis marks one of the first to measure employee perceptions of diversity, equality and inclusion, or DEI. Survey questions assessed employees’ views on equality of treatment by managers, their organization’s commitment to workforce diversity, equality of growth opportunities, and how much their organization and co-workers seemed to value differences.Casey Willis-Abner, chief human resources officer at research firm Press Ganey, which conducted the survey, said organizations that seek to identify areas to improve their DEI efforts must begin by being open to getting honest feedback from workers whose views are largely shaped by their experiences.”It’s really critical to peel back the onion to understand the experiences of different segments of our workforce,” Willis-Abner said.Individuals working service jobs reported having the lowest perceptions of diversity and inclusion, the survey found, which also happened to be the most diverse job category.Views on diversity and inclusion did not vary widely by gender across most jobs except for physicians, where women reported less favorable views on their organization’s diversity efforts compared with men.The results not only show starkly different responses on how various groups view workplace diversity and inclusion efforts, but highlight the importance of seeking input from all aspects of the workforce to get a more comprehensive view of areas needing improvement.Lisette Martinez, executive vice president and chief diversity officer at Philadelphia-based Jefferson Health, said a key strategy she implemented in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd and protests that followed was a listening tour where she heard from more than 1,000 employees over the last several months who expressed their views on race relations within the organization.She said much of the feedback from those talks has been used to help develop what became the organization’s diversity, equity and inclusion operational plan. It includes robust measurement of the effort’s progress through monitoring of employee demographics on hiring, retention and internal mobility, and any discrimination claims.”You have to build a good understanding of what’s happening within your institution,” Martinez said. “You want to be able to execute on what your employees are saying.”

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