Workplace Culture

Why a Focus on Diversity and Inclusion Is Vital to Health Care Companies

By Susan Salka

Jul. 17, 2018

Corporate America is learning that our responsibilities to our stakeholders are multifaceted and interconnected. When we strive for a diverse and inclusive workplace, it benefits everyone — workforce, clients, shareholders, vendors, and communities local and global.

This may be most important in the health care industry, where the workforce needs to be both clinically adept and socially empathetic to serve their increasingly diverse communities.

Focusing on diversity and inclusion is absolutely necessary to access and engage the very best talent available. As everybody should know by now, a company’s workforce is the most critical ingredient in its ability to succeed.

We can’t possibly have the very best team unless we are tapping into the widest and deepest pool of workers available. If any group is not engaged or left out, excellent job candidates with unique experiences and opinions are lost. That means we must be deliberately inclusive to find, hire and retain the top quality workers.

As the leading health care staffing and workforce solutions company, AMN provides a wide variety of health care professionals to clients in all 50 states, from major urban medical centers to home health care companies to rural clinics, while also delivering complex and advanced services ranging from predictive analytics to mid-revenue cycle management. To provide the greatest support to health care organizations, so that they in turn can provide the highest quality patient care, we must have the very best team.

The health care industry we serve is very diverse. Among the overall workforce, 76 percent of people who work at hospitals are women and about 35 percent are black, Asian or Latino, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The percentage of women in health care is higher than any other industry and our team should reflect the clients we serve.

External stakeholders, like vendors, partners and investors, are looking for value and performance, which are directly dependent on a company building the very best team possible. These stakeholders are also looking for companies that they can be proud of — companies that share their values. Many stakeholders today want to know a company’s diversity numbers up front, to ascertain both the company’s value and its values.

For our team members to do their very best work, they must be engaged. Many women, people of various races and ethnicities, and LGBTQ individuals have been excluded or undervalued in business for a long time.

Inclusion must be an action verb. Diversity and inclusion must be actively interwoven into the fabric of company culture so that all people feel like they belong in the workplace — and that they can succeed there. This effort has to start at the top. It can’t just be a few programs; it must be a fundamental part of the corporate framework.

To be able to track your progression it is important to establish the demographic metrics of your team and regularly check your numbers. Diversity and inclusion are not abstract concepts. They are quantifiable, and a company must keep track to know whether they are making progress.

AMN Healthcare has been striving for gender equality for decades, and more recently has been working harder on other areas of inclusion. In the spirit of transparency, here are the AMN numbers as of April 2018:

  • 66 percent of our entire team companywide is women.
  • 62 percent of our supervisors and senior managers are women.
  • Our executive team includes women as CEO, general counsel, chief clinical officer, chief talent officer, and divisional or brand presidents.
  • 34 percent of our entire team is nonwhite.
  • Our team is 56 percent Millennials, 34 percent Generation X and 11 percent baby boomers.

We’re pretty proud of our gender diversity. But we know we can improve in other areas. And we need to enhance the culture and spirit of inclusion companywide. So here are some of the things we are doing:

  • Talent acquisition strategy for diversity, including metrics on diverse candidate slates.
  • Employee resource groups to support a variety of groups and to help the company become a better place for everybody to work.
  • Diversity champions and committees.
  • Companywide engagement survey that includes questions about diversity and inclusion.
  • Unconscious bias training.
  • Support for and membership in the Gender Equality Index and Human Rights Campaign Index.
  • Increasing diversity among our suppliers.
  • Promoting a commitment to diversity externally, particularly in the communities where our team members live.

Diversity and inclusion are the right thing for our team members, our communities and our country. And for our company value and performance. The growing commitment to diversity and inclusion in corporate America is making the workplace a better place.

Susan Salka is president and CEO of AMN Healthcare.

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