Diversity missing in hospital leadership

Hospital leadership may not be representative of all populations with a diversity gap in top positions, according to new survey by executive search firm Witt/Kieffer released yesterday. Less than 15 percent of surveyed healthcare professionals say hospital leadership has closed the diversity gap, and about a third (35 percent) of professionals say healthcare organizations consistently hire minority candidates.

Witt/Kieffer, partnered with minority executive groups (Institute for Diversity in Health Management, Asian Health Care Leaders Association, National Association of Health Services Executives and the National Forum for Latino Healthcare Executives), asked 470 executives about the state of healthcare diversity in leadership roles. Many respondents agree that the pool of diverse candidates for leadership positions has grown during the past five years, but minority representation is still weak, according to a press release.

"It is remarkable that even though a majority of professionals see the value of different cultures in the workplace, there is still not enough happening to close the leadership gap," said James Gauss, senior vice president and senior advisor to Witt/Kieffer's CEO.

However, different races perceive the diversity gap (and whether it exists) slightly differently. Twenty-four percent of Caucasian professionals believe the diversity gap has been closed, but only 11 percent of minority professionals agree. Sixty-percent of Caucasian leaders see their organizations' cultural diversity programs as effective, while only a third (33 percent) of minority professionals agree.

Respondents also disagree on the reasons why. Caucasian professionals cite a lack of diverse candidates, while minority leaders focused on upper management's lack of commitment to diversity.

"Healthcare professionals appear to agree on what steps are necessary in order to improve the success of minorities, but there is a falloff when it comes to results," Gauss said. "If institutions build and implement an effective diversity strategy, it will benefit their business and their patients, who must come first at healthcare organizations."

Most industry leaders agree that diversity in the workplace improves patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes and supports successful decision-making, according to the survey.

To learn more:
- read the press release