The system’s efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion elevate its dedication to its mission.
Atrium Health ranked #1 as the best place in the country for women and diverse managers to work by MBA Diversity magazine, after almost two decades of constant effort.
Fernando Smallthe Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of the Charlotte, NC-based Health System attributes their success to their four-pillar Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) program as being mission-related organization: improving health, raising hope, and advancing healing for all: patients, teammates, learners, and community.
When incidents of racial or social injustice arise, their long-standing DEI program strengthens the standing of the system in the communities they serve, Little said.
“I believe that because our program has been around for so long, it has allowed us to respond to these cases with a sense of urgency, with a sense of compassion, but also with a plan to channel the emotion into a productive goal” , did he declare.
Over the years, Little said, Atrium Health has intentionally addressed its culture and the values that shape it by soliciting input from team members. In addition to the system’s DEI efforts, team members also noted the sense of belonging they felt as part of the overall culture of the organization.
The system’s office of diversity, equity and inclusion continues to rely on its DEI infrastructure which includes guidance and resource groups for the various demographic team members to which they belong. Champions – team members who complete a diversity certificate program – often help to further facilitate learning across the organization.
The first council was set up almost 20 years ago, made up of five physicians of color who wanted to organize a diversity symposium for providers to discuss cultural competence and the importance of diversity in the health sector. Since then, 10,000 team members have been involved in a resource council or group.
“The reality is that the demographics of our country are changing rapidly, and if you just think of the nation right now, the demographic makeup of where we are today will be different in 10, 20, 30 years.” , said Little. “It is incumbent on healthcare organizations to track this, as there is a correlation with when your organization reflects the diversity of its patient population, [giving] you a competitive advantage in terms of health equity, eliminating health disparities and ensuring there is cultural competence in the delivery of care.
Atrium Health continues to work to increase its organizational capacity and accountability to its workforce, reflecting the diversity of its patient population. In 2021, the office of diversity, equity and inclusion implemented executive dashboards that showed each executive’s headcount and hierarchy so they could track diversity in promotions, hiring, turnover rate, as well as real-time pay equity, engagement and recognition. .
Able to identify areas in need of work, executives are then able to develop an action plan with the help of the team in Little’s office.
The system has also incorporated DCI’s efforts into its Impact 2025 strategic plan.
“There’s this bold goal of achieving transformative equity in terms of our leadership ranks and ensuring that our workforce reflects the diversity of our patient population,” Little said. “Especially our executive leadership ranks. Being part of our Impact 2025 plan, it’s now a metric for leaders and it can be tied to performance and the incentive target, and I think it’s a bold step that Atrium Health has broken through in terms of responsibility.