For the last few years, there have been discussions about the need to make healthcare more diverse. We have talked about recruiting more minority students into medical careers, ending wage disparities, providing access to educational programs, and so on. We have spoken extensively about diversity in the executive suite. Yet the strides we have made have been painfully slow. It turns out that healthcare can only be as diverse as its leadership.
CEOs and other executives openly agree with the fact that we need more diversity in the C-suite. Hospitals across the country are working with educational institutions to encourage more minorities to pursue healthcare management. Headhunters are looking for minorities, and staffing agencies are begging for them.
So why do things seem so challenging? Because nothing as drastic as overhauling the healthcare system comes quickly or easily. It is a long and slow process that requires a commitment to years of hard work. Thankfully, there are a lot of good people willing to put forth whatever effort it takes to achieve the kind of diversity we all hope to see in the future.
Three Benefits of a Diverse C-Suite
Lest those currently in healthcare administration believe that creating a diverse C-suite will have very little impact on core business goals, it is important to point out the benefits of greater diversity. Make no mistake; numerous studies have been done over the years proving that bringing diversity into executive management increases productivity, revenues, and market share. This is true in almost every business sector, not just healthcare.
Reaching diversity goals in the healthcare C-suite specifically offers the following three benefits:
1. Better Understanding of Patients – If the ultimate goal of healthcare is to create positive patient outcomes and improve health, it is incumbent upon every organization to understand its patients. Therefore, every facet of the healthcare organization should be fairly representative of the patients they serve. This includes the C-suite. Integrating more diversity into healthcare management results in a better understanding of patients.
2. Greater Innovation – Where there is no C-suite diversity, decisions are made from limited perspectives. This stifles both innovation and discovery. By increasing C-suite diversity, healthcare organizations can facilitate greater innovation that will lead to the methodologies, treatments, drugs, and medical equipment of the future, all capable of providing the widest range of benefits to the largest group of patients.
3. Motivation of Young People – Young people who may not otherwise give any thought to careers in executive management may be motivated to do so by relatives or family friends who set a good example. If nothing else, increasing diversity in the healthcare C-suite lays the groundwork for future generations to carry the torch. If we want to diversify all of healthcare, we have to start somewhere. The executive suite is as good a place as any other.
Utilizing diversity is all about taking advantage of different perspectives, personalities, experiences, and bodies of knowledge. A lack of diversity in any sector leads to stagnation over time, which is just what the healthcare industry has been stuck in for so long. A lot of us want to see that change. We want to see the healthcare industry transformed from a system that is merely adequate for minorities to one that is the absolute best in the world regardless of one’s sex, ethnicity, etc.
We have made measurable strides over the years even if they have been slow. Now is not the time to quit. Now is the time to pursue diversity in the C-suite more aggressively than we ever have.