by Tom Ostrander

Vice President, Human Resources
Sparrow Hospital & Health System

An important aspect of organizational management is learning to stay the course in tough economic times. In the healthcare industry, we are privileged to manage and engage a diverse workforce, provide exceptional health care service to diverse patient populations, extend a safety net to many without insurance, and ensure appropriate standards of productivity that support excellence in quality.

The challenge for hospital executives is to sustain these efforts and maintain a bottom line that allows recapitalization of the organization. Although there are no quick fixes or best practices that would “fit” every organization, to ensure diversity/inclusion stays the course, I offer the following points to consider:

  1. Create a plan to integrate diversity and inclusion goals into the organization’s operational goals. The ability to align and integrate diversity and inclusion into organizational life creates accountability for functional leaders. It positions diversity/inclusion as part of the decision-making process versus being an after-thought.
  2. Accountability may start at the top but it must permeate throughout the organization. It is important to have buy-in, accountability, and engagement throughout the organization. Just as a leader depends on managers, line-staff, and others to implement specific tactics to achieve goals and objectives, this same level of discipline and accountability needs to be extended to diversity and inclusion initiatives.
  3. Make sure your diversity/inclusion goals are measurable. The saying, “measure what you treasure,” holds true for diversity. State your objective in measurable terms. Evaluate results and modify your process to attain desired goals.
  4. Keep diversity/inclusion visible through both internal and external resources. Use your marketing, communication, diversity councils and others to talk about and restate the organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion; in tough economic times it sends a strong message.
  5. Ensure your diversity/inclusion goals and objectives are aligned and support the strategic plan of the organization.
  6. Make sure your champions, change agents, and advocates are at all levels in the organization and are being utilized to strategically move the diversity/inclusion agenda forward.
  7. Continue to broaden the diversity definition and be as inclusive as possible.
  8. The best practice that yielded initial results may not be the best practice for sustained and consistent improvement. Be open to making course corrections as necessary.
  9. Create internal and external partnerships/ alliances in the achievement of goals.
  10. Your destiny is the journey that you are on…

STAY THE COURSE, be encouraged and enjoy the journey. Sometimes it may take more than one attempt to create the right initiative and/or process that aligns and embeds diversity and inclusion into everyday functions.