Fostering Workplace Inclusion in a Healthcare Setting

Senior Director of Marketing

Many organizations commit to enhancing both diversity and inclusion, but most companies end up pushing diversity measures while falling short on improving inclusion. Diversity is easier to measure concretely through data collected from applicants and employees. As long as people are willing to disclose demographic information, you can monitor diversity.

Inclusion, on the other hand, is an aspect of culture. “When you have many generations, people of different academic backgrounds and people of different cultures and nationalities are all trying to work together, there are tensions,” says Laraine McKinnon, Advisor and Talent and Culture Strategist at Emtrain and Workplace Consultant at LMC17 Consulting. Before creating a more inclusive workplace, HR professionals in healthcare and hospital settings must first define what inclusion means at their organization in terms of changed attitudes, behaviors, and habits.

Here’s how to measure and sustain inclusion initiatives at your organization.

Set a Baseline

Look at data on patient or employee satisfaction, which can reveal clues to your current state of inclusion. Compare this data with demographic data to draw conclusions about engagement, representation, and inclusion. If you don’t have historical data, conduct surveys to get a sense of how employees feel in terms of inclusion.

Identify points where your organization has struggled with diversity, equity, and inclusion in the past. And identify processes that have historically shut certain groups out. “Look at what is creating that gap because, if there's a pattern, it's not just an individual issue,” says Farzana Nayani, a professional speaker, consultant and strategist on diversity, equity, and inclusion. “It's something in how the work is being done or communications are being delivered that leads to certain groups being left out.” These gaps offer clear opportunities for improvement. 

Identify and Measure Successful Outcomes

The ultimate goal of inclusion is to become an organization where diverse employees have the same opportunities for success and promotion, are comfortable speaking up, and feel valued for who they are. But that’s not all: “Inclusion in the healthcare and hospital system looks two ways,” Nayani says. “One is making sure that staff and anyone within the system are fully present and engaged, and their own identities are valued and able to be shared.” This groundwork needs to be laid before the second outcome of inclusion, culturally sensitive care, can occur, Nayani says.

You can measure the success of these outcomes through surveys (of employees and patients) and open communication channels. Tools like Emtrain’s Workplace Color Spectrum can help you get more granular when measuring outcomes. Categorizing behaviors raises awareness of which outcomes lead to inclusion and which tend toward exclusion.

Maintain a Constant Feedback Loop

Measuring and sustaining inclusion requires an iterative approach. You can’t make a few changes once and expect lasting success. Develop channels for anonymous feedback from employees, Nayani says, and use this feedback to assess and adapt your plan’s trajectory. Consistently ask employees how you can make the workplace more inclusive so they can bring their entire selves to work.

An inclusive culture enables employees from all backgrounds to speak up, and that can revolutionize work processes at your healthcare system. “We see people who are new to nursing bring ideas from other industries that are smart and efficient,” McKinnon says. “Inclusion can be really powerful for brainstorming ways to make the business and services better.”

Without inclusion, hospitals and healthcare systems can’t provide optimal care to their patients. Employees from all walks of life must feel comfortable speaking up and advocating on behalf of their patients. Determine where your organization stands on inclusion, and draft a plan to foster inclusive behaviors and processes so that you can deliver the best care.

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