BOLTON: We need to be developing the individual who might move into the C-suite in 15 years, because that’s a possibility. It’s happening more and more in organizations, especially community organizations, more so than academic medical centers. It’s important for us to have a diverse governing board and a diverse C-suite; it’s just as important to have a diverse employee population.

The community will catch on if you have an engaged, inclusive environment; it will know if your organization has respect for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, for example; and it will know if your organization has respect for racial and ethnic minorities. And that’s going to be good for business. No matter what the turnover, staff and patient satisfaction metrics are, it’s good for business. But there has to be ownership between the chairman of the board and CEO.

REEDE: We’ve talked about the pipeline and leadership development. We need better processes to identify and grow potential leaders. There are many people who would love the opportunity, but it hasn’t yet presented itself. We need leaders who can see the potential that exists within others and who are willing and able to nurture that potential. There are people who are hungry to move into leadership and make a contribution, but the organizations are not recognizing those individuals. It’s a real struggle, and one we must overcome.

MODERATOR: If organizations are going to be a part of the community, diversity and inclusion must be part of the strategic plan. A key question is: How does an organization assess its workforce for gender, racial and ethnic diversity, and what is done with the results?

GARCIA-THOMAS: I’d like to add one more thing about the business case. We have to do a better job of building a stronger business case. The business case is all around us as we shift toward population health management and as we see a growth in health care consumerism. For me, the importance of diversity and inclusion is clear, but we need to talk about it in ways the C-suite will understand.

REEDE: Getting back to metrics, we are trying to move an agenda using terminology and tools that are 20, even 30 years old. And that’s inhibiting us from moving forward. We need to establish better, relevant metrics if we are to make true progress.
On another note, I keep focusing on the pipeline, but it’s critically important. At Harvard, I’ve been looking at our efforts around building a pipeline, and one thing I’ve discovered is that we focus a great deal on bringing people into the organization. But we aren’t looking closely enough at what makes people leave. We need a true understanding of what’s happening to people in the organization so we can achieve the results we want to achieve.

SMITH: When we talk about the pipeline, one contributing factor that we haven’t discussed is the aging of the workforce. The pipeline is not good, diversity aside. We are not doing well as an industry in building a viable pipeline across disciplines. As an example, today, if an organization is looking to hire a perioperative director or a new women’s health director, it may get one viable candidate. When I first came into the business in 1985, we would get six or eight good candidates. It’s a growing problem.

MODERATOR: We have to start upstream. We need to work with our communities to make sure that nursing and other disciplines, including health care management, are attractive, viable professions. It takes a long time to start upstream. It takes urgency.

BOLTON: We can’t just say that this is important as an organization. We need to be the change that we want to see in others. It begins at the top. And it’s not just about getting the C-suite and the board to be more diverse. It’s about being inclusive, and how we relate to our communities as partners and how we value our employees.

Key Findings

1. Health care organizations need to do a better job of sharing success stories about workforce diversity and inclusion, so other organizations can replicate best practices.

2. A diverse, engaged workforce is paramount to having an engaged patient population and community. Leadership diversity can enhance employee satisfaction and operational performance.

3. The hospital field needs to strengthen community partnerships to establish a sufficient pipeline of diverse candidates — including senior leaders and board members — for the future.


B. E. Smith is a full-service health care leadership solutions firm and the top-rated provider of senior-level leadership services including interim leadership, executive search and advisory services. B. E. Smith partners with each client, utilizing a proven methodology to create customized solutions. The firm’s comprehensive sourcing strategy incorporates the latest marketing techniques, association partnerships, social networking and the largest database of skilled senior-level health care executives in the industry to deliver immediate results in today’s complex health care environment.


Health Forum would like to thank the panelists for taking part in “Leadership Diversity: The Path to Value-Based Care,” with special thanks to our sponsor B. E. Smith.