3 tips for building a diverse workforce

Leading business executives share their experiences as they seek the benefits of a diverse workforce.

In healthcare and beyond, business leaders see a clear case for promoting diversity in their organizations. Doing so successfully has proven difficult, however.

By definition, healthcare facilities deal with diverse patient populations day in and day out. As hospitals and clinics increasingly see the value of cultural competency in driving patient engagement, the value of a diverse staff capable of bridging cultural gaps has also risen. Despite this knowledge, gaps in representation exist at levels as basic as gender, where some physicians have pointed out near-zero representation of female physicians across a range of medical recognition awards.

To get a bead on effective methods for raising diversity, the Harvard Business Review interviewed 11 CEOs across several industries. Among their suggestions:

  • Go big or go home. The leaders suggest organizations address diversity with as broad a definition as possible and across the entire organization. The article cites Kaiser Permanente’s “deliberate planning, development of current talent and outreach within the communities that they serve” as the key to building a workforce that included over 60% racial, ethnic and cultural minorities at the end of 2016. Women occupied nearly three-quarters of Kaiser’s workforce at the end of 2016, according to the article.
  • Prioritize accountability. The executives favor programs that include measurable goals and firm deadlines. Giving managers real goals ensures they prioritize diversity efforts, according to Kathryn Maher of Wikimedia. “Saying there is no deadline on this ... is an ahistorical way of looking at the advances that have been made in terms of equity and representation,” she says.
  • Be a role model. Leaders' actions speak louder than words, especially when those actions are public, says Kevin Johnson of Starbucks. He encourages CEOs to demonstrate the value of diversity initiatives by getting personally involved and leading by example.