Racial, Cultural Diversity Still Lacking among Hospital Executives


Less than 15% of healthcare professionals believe hospitals have closed the cultural and racial diversity gap in their leadership positions over the past five years, according to the results of a new survey (PDF).

Hospitalist leaders need to recognize the value of "cultural competence," particularly in an age when patients often tie their satisfaction to such questions as, "Does my doctor look like me?" and "Can I relate to my doctor?" according to James Gauss, senior vice president at executive search firm Witt/Kieffer, which penned the report.

Racial and ethnic disparity also will be important to address under provisions in the Affordable Care Act, which tie an economic impact to an organization's ability to deal with diverse populations of patients, says Gauss.

"We are now finally getting to a point where people might get paid correctly for dealing with these diversity issues because quality outcomes are going to be rewarded," he says.

Gauss says techniques that can help hospitals better balance the ethnic and racial makeup of their leadership include:

• implementing formal mentoring programs;

• understanding the patient and physician diversity of the geographic areas they serve; and

• establishing diversity recruiting goals.

For some groups, those goals might be as simple as recognizing that an organization is not doing enough. For others, the goals can be formal quotas.

"Some organizations set targets and they're very adamant about it," Gauss says. "But for some places, that may be two or three years down the road. … It depends on your starting point."

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