Diversity, equity, and inclusion aren’t new concepts in healthcare. However, their importance has been emphasized in 2020 due to Black Lives Matter and similar movements, motivating many administrators and hiring managers to take a closer look at their hiring practices. Here are six best practices that can help you improve your hiring process for greater diversity and equity in healthcare.
1. Educate leaders and recruiters about implicit bias
One of the best places to start your effort to increase diversity in an organization is by focusing on yourself. Leaders and recruiters should check themselves for unconscious or implicit bias that may lead them to select some candidates over others.
At Ochsner Health in Louisiana, they’ve rolled out training to address implicit bias across the organization, says Melissa Love, VP of Professional Staff Services and The Office of Professional Well-Being. “The first part is identifying your own biases, and after that there will be another segment of ‘Okay, now what do you do about that bias?’”
Love says the response to the program has been positive so far. “People are really curious. I’m seeing people be very surprised by their lack of knowledge, even those that think they’re very knowledgeable.”
2. Reduce inequities in the hiring process that limit diversity
Aside from implicit bias, there are other ways organizations may unknowingly limit diversity in their hiring processes.
One way to reduce these inequities is to create a standard interview process that you follow for every candidate. “If you ask one candidate one thing, but you don’t focus on that same question with another candidate, it’s not the same experience,” says Daniel Benavides, manager of talent acquisition at CHG Healthcare, CompHealth’s parent company. “It needs to be the exact same experience for every candidate you’re running through your process so it’s an even playing field.”
Increasing the number of people who select candidates also helps. When he joined CHG Healthcare, Benavides noticed only one or two people were filtering candidates for interviews. He determined that having a larger mix of individuals looking at applications would result in a greater diversity — and higher quality — of selected candidates.
At Ochsner, Love says her organization now has a requirement that at least one diverse candidate be presented when hiring for an AVP level or above. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that’s who is selected, but there will always be diverse candidates presented. We’re currently in the process of determining what that process looks like on the physician side, too.”
3. Widen your pool to increase the diversity of your applicants
In addition to changing your hiring process, you can increase diversity simply by expanding the pool of candidates applying to your organization.
Benavides says the talent acquisition team at CHG healthcare has been focusing more effort on outreach to specific audiences. “We’re finding ways to attract other talent, whether that’s internship programs within our teams or reaching out to historically black colleges and universities and Latinx organizations,” he says.
Another way to encourage diverse applicants to apply is to be mindful of how you advertise the position. Steven Huff, director of talent acquisition at CHG Healthcare, says, “A lot of times it’s just simple changes in your process, like looking at a particular newspaper or job site that you post your job on and understanding the demographics of that job site.”
4. Encourage minorities to pursue careers in healthcare
Not everyone thinks a career in healthcare is accessible to them, and one easy way to widen your applicant pool is to encourage diverse groups to pursue careers in the field.
Ochsner Health has several programs that allow people to learn about healthcare careers. “In the New Orleans metro area, we have a high poverty rate and a lot of people who just aren’t aware of where they can go after high school, so we have several workforce development programs,” says Love.
“We also have the Ochsner Scholars Program, where we have opportunities for people to learn more about healthcare. We’re looking to expand the program to kids who may be interested in learning more about what it means to be a physician,” says Love. “I’m targeting some of those schools that are focused on diverse admissions so we can really grow that pipeline.”
5. Hold your organization accountable
Once you’ve determined what steps your organization needs to take to increase diversity, make sure to hold yourself and those around you accountable.
Love says she’s constantly asking, “How are we progressing? How have we gotten better?” At Ochsner, they answer these questions in part by tracking demographics to see if there are changes. In the past 10 years, she says Ochsner physicians who identify as minorities have increased from 25% to 37% of the workforce.
“You have to start somewhere,” she says. “You’re not going to solve it tomorrow. Our communications have been very clear that we’re committed to this process. We’re committed to creating an environment where people feel diversity and inclusion is expected and appreciated. It’s not going to be an overnight solution, but you have to be willing to listen and learn.”
6. Remember the benefits of a diverse workforce
A diverse and inclusive work environment helps employees to feel more connected to their work, reduces turnover, and makes for happier employees. Diversity has also been proven to produce better business outcomes and create high-performing teams.
“Diversity enriches an organization,” says Benavides. “A more diverse organization is able to bring different outlooks to a problem and look at them from different perspectives.”
Increasing the diversity of your workforce is not only the right thing to do, it will strengthen your organization and result in better outcomes for both your patients and your employees.
What is your organization doing to strengthen your hiring for diversity practices? Share in the comments below.