The health sector does not realize the need to increase diversity in its ranks, especially at the executive level. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the racial disparities in treatment and care outcomes that exist across the country.
A 2015 survey by the American Hospital Association found that 91 percent of all hospital heads were white.
Larry Griffin is the co-founder of Bridge Partners, a recruitment company that specializes in helping companies in various industries diversify their leadership and management teams. The 17-year-old organization has offices in New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Boston.
Healthcare Dive explained how companies seek out different talents and what the summer of Black Lives Matter and the COVID-19 protests meant to their business.
HEALTHY DIVING: Why is diversity in leadership important?
LARRY GRIFFIN: There are many reasons and many industries. A diverse leadership team really helps build the organization from a talent perspective, whether it’s in the acquisition, move, or development management. Send a message to the organization and the people the organization serves about diversity, equity, and inclusion. This is the key value of the organization. This is particularly important in the field of health. This is a very important value for an organization.
Why in the field of health?
GRIFFIN: Well, I think, especially on the service providers’ side, you understand that people are being served, and the population has changed or will change or will change. When you have a diverse organization, they can understand the culture of the people they serve.
For example, a few years ago I sought out a vice president of ambulatory care at a large hospital. The people they served were increasingly Latino and wanted someone who spoke Spanish and understood the culture of the people they served.
It was a very, very competitive market. And there were many hospitals in the area that people could go to. It was just extremely important to have that care and to understand the people the hospital serves. And I also think that, from an internal perspective, I think there have been a lot of studies done on [improved] patient outcomes when there is different leadership, a diverse organization, and providers paying attention to D&I issues.
For example, if a hospital comes to you and says we want help finding that position, what factors do you take into account when starting this process?
GRIFFIN: Well, I think the first thing we want to do is talk about the specific role of a particular function or group. And really understand the market, what that particular market looks like for different leadership. As an organization, we try to help our clients ensure that we are included in our investigation process. That is why we want to bring everyone to the table.
I think clients often tell us that they cannot choose between different candidates. Therefore, we will endeavor to ensure that these lists are inclusive to the best of our ability. So this does not mean that we do not exclude anyone. So when it comes to a shortlist … include, to the best of our ability, white men, white women, black men, black women, Latinos, Asians.
But we also want to make sure that when we talk to a client who has a very good knowledge of the market, in certain sectors with certain functions in certain regions, the market for different candidates is smaller. Therefore, it is imperative to contact our clients to ensure that we are providing them with the proper advice on the pool of potential candidates.