Putting Unrest To Rest

Leaders can help address racial inequity by conquering the unconscious biases inside their own companies.

During a time when we’re all trying to add value in the fight against racial inequality and social injustice, it’s important for leaders to use more than words to let their position be known. We must pursue real, tangible ways to celebrate differences and help conquer discrimination, racism and bias.

Here are some ways we can each use our abilities, resources and influence to build a culture that celebrates each individual’s diverse background and experience.

Reflect and then pivot. With times of deep change come opportunities for self-reflection. I encourage every executive to take a deep look at how decisions are made throughout their organizations. Who sits in leadership roles? Is their influence truly reflective of all the employees in your organization and the community you serve? Are voices of Black employees heard and honored? LGBTQ? When you identify gaps, act on them. At Westmed Medical Group, we leverage technology that allows us to track key human capital data and identify staffing trends in real time. Our leadership team monitors a monthly workforce profile dashboard for meaningful data we can translate to action, such as the percent of new hires that represent a diverse population and the retention rate of minority employees.

Build a culture of inclusion. At the end of the day, we want our workforce to represent the diversity of the community we serve. It’s to the benefit of everyone to work together and achieve change and create a culture of openness, thoughtfulness and ultimately respect for our patients and our colleagues. As a white male, I know that making the most inclusive decisions for my organization means surrounding myself with a diverse executive team with backgrounds different from my own.

I am proud that my executive team is 66 percent female, and 50 percent of our female leaders represent a diverse ethnicity. Almost 50 percent of our entire workplace represents ethnic diversity. Although this is a good start, we remain focused every day on hiring, retention and promotion policies that reflect unbiased and transparent decision-making, ensuring that the voices of our people are heard, and developing policies and a culture that make every employee feel comfortable in their work environment.

We audit job postings to make sure that they attract a diverse population, and we analyze the percentage of diverse candidates at each recruiting stage. We also redesigned our physician recruitment sourcing to ensure that we are partnered with multicultural professional associations and student groups, and we focus our college recruitment on programs that have a strong diverse population.

Address unconscious bias. Without a concerted effort to combat it, unconscious bias exists in any organization. Ensuring your hiring practices are based on standard qualifications and not the names you read on résumés or the faces you see during interviews will help your company raise up employees of every race and nationality.

In 2020, Westmed began developing rigorous management training for anyone who hires employees, helping them to understand how to ask questions and engage in conversation with potential recruits while steering clear of topics that could lead to unconscious bias.

Creating a Diversity & Inclusion council that represents a real intersection of your organization can be instrumental in developing training curriculum for unconscious bias, collecting data and analyzing areas of the business that need change so that you can address policies and practices affecting diversity.

You don’t need to create an organization that is colorblind; you need to create an organization that honors and celebrates the colors, genders, sexual orientation and beliefs of each individual.