As many organizations are turning their attention to equity, diversity, and inclusion activities, so often the starting (and sticking) point focuses on diversity. Why do companies get stuck here? Many times, it’s due to the focus being on checking a box. Unfortunately, just getting the right number of the right bodies doesn’t lead to all the benefits a diverse workforce can bring to an organization. In a 2018 study, Boston Consulting Group showed that diverse management teams showed 19% higher revenue than their non-diverse counterparts. So how do we create a sustainable culture of diversity amongst our teams? The answer – lead with equity.
At its core, equity is defined as a quality of being fair and impartial. So, if we seek to create a workplace where we are fair and impartial, we must create a framework where we recognize and analyze historic, persistent factors that have created unequal systems. It sounds like a huge task, but you can start today by incorporating a few activities with your teams:
Just start talking about it – We assume everyone has the same understanding of equity as we do and that we are all starting from the same place. Taking a few minutes in each staff meeting to give team members time to share experiences can bring us all to a common understanding. As you approach these discussions, also seek to broaden your definition about what equity applies to. Diversity doesn’t only apply to race. It’s also about promoting variation in gender, age, socio-economic backgrounds, work experience, geographic location, those with disabilities, etc.
Consider your recruitment practices – Being equitable in recruiting means looking for non-traditional backgrounds and experiences, seeking to market positions outside of the typical industry pathways, and ensuring your job descriptions aren’t limiting who might be attracted to applying for that role. So often I hear leaders say, “I don’t have an opportunity to hire women; they never apply.” If that is the case, take a look at your job posting. Are there any qualifications that could be limiting your potential candidates in an unnecessary way? Could you market in broader channels? Are there professional organizations you can partner with to get the word out about your opportunities? Get creative!
Look within – Building an equity framework, means removing the structures that have created unequal systems. Where do you begin? Maybe it’s an exercise in reviewing your policies and procedures where you review one each month and look for statements that may demonstrate unconscious bias. Do your Time Off policies allow for the kind of flexibility that a new mother might require? Do policies rely on a manager’s discretion rather than something less impartial? Odds are many policies and procedures haven’t had a fresh set of eyes for many years so there’s bound to be room for improvement.
Bring in some help – Invite EDI (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) Professionals to speak to your teams. Many companies have or are already in the process of hiring leaders specific to this space. If your company has, invite them to speak to your teams. They often are the best equipped to answer some of the hard and uncomfortable questions that exist within this space. If your company doesn’t have an EDI expert, seek out outside help. Search on LinkedIn and see if anyone in your network has a contact.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lyndsy Blonquist is an Assistant Vice President at Intermountain Healthcare, an integrated delivery network (IDN) based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her current portfolio includes responsibility for Business Relationship Management functions which serves to bridge the gap between the company’s technology division and clinical/business leaders. Lyndsy has worked in healthcare for the past 15 years in roles spanning both payer and provider. At Intermountain Healthcare, Lyndsy has had experience working in several venues, including Payer Contracting, Revenue Integrity, EMR implementation, and Revenue Cycle operations. Lyndsy serves as a Board Member for the Utah Chapter of the Healthcare Financial Management Association and a Steering Committee Member for the Business Women’s Forum with the Salt Lake Chamber.