The American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) issued revised policy statements on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at the end of 2020, a reflection of the increasing awareness of the role DEI policies play in ensuring healthcare environments are welcoming and effectively serve all patients and employees regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, ability, or orientation. This emphasis on DEI comes at a time of great turbulence in healthcare – the strain of the pandemic and the continued difficulties in providing care have had an enormous impact on the level of comfort, awareness, and empowerment felt by employees as well as patients and their family members. In this sense, it is no surprise that increasing emphasis is being placed on ways to make the healthcare environment safe, welcoming, and aware of the issues faced by a diverse population.
The ACHE makes several policy recommendations, all with the intent of creating an aware and equitable workplace for diverse groups. These include eliminating discriminatory practices in hiring and recruiting, implementing mentorship or sponsorship programs, creating opportunities to increase diversity at all levels of leadership, and creating opportunities for professional development that will advance and accommodate individuals regardless of diversity status. For patients, organizations need to evaluate policies to ensure patient equity and sensitivity to a variety of cultures, ethnicities, abilities, or orientations. Ensuring patients are offered a welcome, inclusive experience that takes into account cultural or social differences will not only have a positive effect on patient outcomes, it will have the added benefit of enhancing brand and reputation in the community.
Changing company culture to be more inclusive and equitable doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s not easy. Sometimes there are clashes between diversity in the workplace and hiring for cultural fit, while other organizations might struggle to eliminate unconscious bias with particular patient groups. Not only does leadership need to set the example, it’s important to provide educational resources for frontline workers. This is true in most industries, but especially so in healthcare, where unconscious bias or culturally sensitive care can actually affect patient outcomes.
HealthStream has a robust Health Equity & Belonging education program that is designed by diversity and inclusion experts to provide the content healthcare workers need most. It’s designed as micro-learning modules so staff will more easily be able to fit the training into their day. The library of topics is ever-evolving, but includes training on fundamental topics such as: gender identity, microagressions, unconscious bias, anti-racism, LGBTQ+ awareness, and sexual harassment. There are also modules covering practical issues such as linguistically appropriate services, trauma-informed care, health and wellness from culturally diverse perspectives, and global diversity issues. By educating your workforce on these topics, you’ll be empowering them to strengthen and maintain the organization’s culture and provide better care for a diverse patient population.
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