Diversity don’ts for every hospital leader

How do you increase diversity in healthcare leadership? Is it as simple as having qualified, diverse talent in your candidate pool? That’s a start, but those qualified candidates won’t get hired and won’t be able to succeed in your organization if you think that’s all it takes, says Kevin Hardy, director of executive and interim recruitment for HealthTechS3.

Before you can add best practices to your diversity and inclusion efforts, it’s important to first examine your current practices and how those might be hamstringing your ability to recruit and retain diverse talent. In a previous post on this blog, Hardy outlined a few things hospital leaders should stop doing now, including stopping these 4 anti-diversity practices:

• Looking for candidates in the same places.

• Posting ineffective job descriptions.

• Hiring based on gut instinct and intuition.

• Ignoring resistance to diversity in your organization.

This month, Hardy is back with more diversity don’ts, which he says are actions hospital leaders must stop immediately in order to increase diversity.

DON’T forget to look in the mirror.

Everyone experiences bias. And by everyone, that means you, too. In December, Hardy shined the spotlight on organizational resistance to diversity, but just as important is coming to terms with your own resistance. “A lot of people are concerned they may say or do the wrong thing or get labeled a bad person, and that keeps them from taking action,” he says. But this is too important. The best way to examine your own biases and personal resistance factors is to be forced to. Hardy recommends diversity and inclusion training for every leader. And while a one-hour webinar or lunch and learn can be the start, the most impactful trainings are multi-day, hands-on courses. “These can be pretty in depth,” he says. “Look for ones that have you working with other leaders and hold you accountable for what you’ve learned.”

DON’T praise employees for withstanding a poor culture.

If you manage to recruit a minority candidate, that’s great, but the story doesn’t end there. Diversity is nothing without inclusion. And allowing a toxic culture to go unchecked will do little to retain that diverse candidate you worked so hard to recruit. “Increasing diversity has to include the ability to retain them, and that means creating an inclusive environment,” he says. “Rather than praising employees who can withstand your current environment, create an environment where all employees can be successful.”

DON’T grant promotions based on unwritten rules to success.

Just as critical as the external candidate pool is the internal one. But too often, Hardy says, promotions are based on what he calls “unwritten rules to success” that leave the door open for too much gray area (and individual biases) in performance-based promotions. Instead, be transparent. Create a roadmap that all employees can access that details the qualifications required for promotion. 

DON’T say, ‘But I’m a good person.’

Being a good person doesn’t free you from being biased, Hardy says. And remember, everyone is biased. “There are a lot of good hospitals with good people, but there’s no diversity, because people are biased. There’s nothing wrong with being biased. We all are. Where leaders go wrong is when they’re not actively working against those biases. Even when intentions are good, it’s important to measure the impact of those intentions on your staff, your patients and your community.” 

Hardy will cover these and other diversity don’ts in an April 9 webinar. If you’re serious about making your organization a more diverse and inclusive work environment, you won’t want to miss it. Reserve your spot today.