Timing is everything.  Just as we formally launch our Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) efforts, a federal order makes it a political hot potato.  The memo casts all unconscious bias training or racial sensitivity training as “anti-white” and “un-American”.  So what to do?  Delay implementation until the political context dies down?  Or continue forward and begin the self-examination, the data collection, and the conversations that will propel us forward?

“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; it’s choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast or easy, and it’s practicing your values, not just professing them.” – Brene Brown

Having integrity about IDEA starts with collecting and believing data. Assuming yours is like ours, it is filled with uncomfortable oxymorons. We have high engagement but low resilience. We want to hear everyone’s voice but understand not many feel safe enough to speak up. We have a workforce that reflects the diversity of our community, and a leadership team that doesn’t come close. This data compels us to move forward, to start the conversation, and to begin to make change.

The issues of bias and racism are not theoretical.  They play out in micro-aggressions towards our workforce on a daily basis.  We recently convened several hundred caregivers to talk about the issue.  We were shocked to hear physicians of color share that they are subjected to racist comments or requests for a different provider up to three times per shift.  If this is occurring in our workplace, to the most educated among us, who are in positions of prestige and actively working to help others, what must the experience be for those at the bottom of the social ladder?

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Author: Clay Holderman

As Executive Vice President and COO for Presbyterian Healthcare Services, a not-for-profit integrated system of hospitals, clinics, a medical group and one of the nation’s largest provider-led health plans, Clay Holderman leads operational alignment across the health system and is focused on the continued transformation of the delivery of care to achieve the quadruple aim. During his 22 years in health care leadership, Clay has been successful in both for-profit and not-for-profit systems, led new program development, hospital consolidation, new hospital conception and construction, and health system performance improvement.