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Rethinking Healthcare Training for Diversity, Inclusion, and Bias

Recognizing that there’s a lot of work to be done to address healthcare challenges in diversity, inclusion, and bias, HealthStream recently began working on an expansion of training options in this area with Jeremy Short, a diversity and inclusion practices expert. We recently spoke to Short about what effective diversity training looks like and why it is vitally important for healthcare organizations, individuals who work in healthcare, as well as patients and their families. This blog post is the first in a series of excerpts from the article based on our conversation.

Why is it important to think about diversity and inclusion together in terms of the workplace?

Jeremy Short: When people hear the words diversity and inclusion, especially in the workplace, they fail to realize these two concepts are closely married. Research tells us that diverse workplaces are more innovative, productive, have greater employee engagement, as well as experience greater commitment among their workforce. The research I’ve seen shows that organizations only get the benefits of that innovation if they are also consciously practicing inclusion. Inclusive workplace practices make you better suited to respond to and incorporate the thought processes of everybody on the team. When you simply shoot for diversity, you get a bunch of people who look different in the same place at the same time, but not necessarily working toward the same goal.

How do you characterize the role of leadership in creating a more inclusive organization?

Jeremy Short: Inclusion comes down to intention and ownership. A great leader for whom I worked taught me that organizations move in the direction of the questions their leaders ask. When your leader asks how many sales you generated today, that is what you focus on. When they ask about your monthly report, you make sure you have that answer. Similarly, when a leader asks what we are doing to be more inclusive, that’s what you focus on. Engagement and ownership around those principles connects us to being very deliberate in our approach, as opposed to a passive approach involving a blank claim about diversity.

What is problematic about the phrase ‘unconscious bias?’  

Jeremy Short: I’ve always leaned my training away from using the word ‘unconscious.’ Instead, I focus on managing bias. Using the word ‘unconscious’ tends to let us all off the hook. You may not be aware of your biases, but as a human being in general, you have bias. Our brains are designed for bias, to take shortcuts about knowing what is and isn’t safe, especially in terms of people and places—that’s how the brain is wired. Starting with the assumption that we all have biases, let’s figure out how to address them in situations when you know they’re going to show up. In that approach, we try to take some of the blame out of the equation. Starting with blame instantly puts the audience in a place of defensiveness, with a negative impact on the effectiveness of your training or presentation.

Our Q&A with Jeremy Short, a diversity and inclusion practices expert, focuses on what effective diversity training looks like and why it is vitally important for healthcare organizations, individuals who work in healthcare, as well as patients and their families. Download the full article.

About Jeremy Short

For more than 20 years, Jeremy Short has held a number of progressively responsible roles directing and leading Human Resources initiatives. Short is currently the Director of Talent Management and Development at a health system in Ohio and is an Adjunct Professor of Human Resources Management at Baldwin Wallace University. Previously, he was the Director of Diversity and Inclusion, subsequent to his being a Director of Human Resources, at Sherwin- Williams. Short is also the President of the Cleveland Advisory Board of the Ohio Diversity Council, the Awareness Chair for the Northeast Ohio Military Employers’ Consortium and is a member of the Greater Cleveland Commission on Economic Inclusion’s Diversity Professionals Group. Short earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio, and a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Brenau University in Atlanta, Georgia. Short has extensive experience and proficiency in large-scale change initiatives, fostering employee engagement, policy management, recruitment, training, individual development planning, employee relations issues, succession planning, and compensation management.

HealthStream Diversity & Inclusion Training

We live in a culturally diverse, multi-ethnic and racial environment. Perhaps that is never more apparent than in the healthcare setting. Patients, providers, employees, and volunteers are members of these different groups. This library of courses contains content that is intended to create awareness, influence behavior and improve an organization’s culture. Having a workforce that understands the importance of recognizing unconscious bias, of diversity in the workplace, cultural competence, and health literacy not only improves peer-to-peer relationships, but also caregiver-to-patient relationships. Learn more.

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