Diversity a Core Competence for Providence Health & Services
Regional Director, Office of Diversity for Providence Health & Services
With a wide-ranging human resources background involving work in the public and private sectors, Isaac Dixon currently serves as the Regional Director, Office of Diversity for Providence Health & Services ( Oregon). He has held positions of increasing responsibility at NIKE, GE Capital Corp and Pitney Bowes.
Isaac assumed his role in January 2008 after serving as the Regional Director of Employment at Providence. In his own words, he shares his perspective on Providence’s focus on diversity, and approaches to enhancing care at the bedside.
At Providence, our mission statement is: “As people of Providence we reveal God's love for all, especially the poor and vulnerable, through our compassionate service.”
It’s not possible to be true to our mission without having diversity as a core value of our organization. Diversity has to be an integral part of everything we do, if we are to really connect with the communities we serve, to understand what they need and want, and to deliver services in a culturally competent way.
Our diversity efforts at Providence center around four core areas: managing a diverse workforce; community relations and community outreach; developing cultural competency; and contracting and purchasing.
Overarching all of those is working with organizational leaders and managers in aligning our diversity strategy with Providence Health and Services mission, vision and values. I also help leaders understand how a diversity focus aligns strategically with their business goals and objectives.
We can’t serve people in a culturally competent way if we don’t know who they are. If you don’t understand a particular, it’s easy to ask or do something offensive, and not even know it. Cultures are not monolithic. Not everyone understands, receives or gives information in the same way.
Last year, we started gathering more data about our patients. The reaction we got back from our staff and patients have been extremely positive. We’re going to incorporate what we learn from data we gathered to develop in-service programs. We’re still at the beginning of this effort, but over time, we are confident that our work can help change care delivery at the bedside. The knowledge we obtain will also help us design and deliver programs that will improve the patient experience.
In addition to the data there are lots of studies and literature being published about the disparities in health care treatment in the United States between minority and non-minority groups. At Providence, we are learning more about the way that patients interact with their doctors and how this varies greatly by racial and ethnic background. There are so many things that we need to learn about people and their cultural backgrounds that are going to help us enhance the quality of patient-centered care that we deliver to every patient.
We employ metrics that help us gauge the success of our diversity efforts as well as aiding us in properly directing our time, energy and resources. One of the key indicators that we look at our responses to employee survey questions related to diversity. What’s phenomenal is in the Oregon region, (where we have just over 16,000 employees), participation in the survey is 85 percent. We get very high marks from our employees on the questions related to diversity, which shows that Providence people feel valued within their ministries because their voices are heard, and they are respected for their contributions.
What we found is that people who work for us really like our mission: that’s why they come to work here. That’s what differentiates us from other health care providers.
Our employees value Providence’s involvement in community outreach. We’ve been long-term sponsors of the “Good in the Neighborhood” parade. Many of our employees participate in Bridge Pedal. Every year, we have one of the largest corporate contingents in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Those kinds of community activities really matter to people.
Managing a Diverse Workforce
We have a Diversity Council that is made up of Providence Health and Services Oregon leadership team. They help set the strategy and direction for diversity efforts across the organization. Each of our major ministries has diversity a committee which is made up of volunteer employees and managers. Their charge is to keep our diversity efforts alive and real in each of those ministries. The diversity committees accomplish this through education programs and activities, which are closely linked to our mission and the specific objectives within each ministry.
We also have ongoing conversations with our regional employment office about how we can support the work they do in recruiting and retention. As you know, health care professionals have lots of choices about where they work. We’re proud of the fact that we have so many long-term employees.
Contracting and Purchasing
Providence has formed an outstanding relationship with our prime contractors who do a wonderful job of reaching out to women and minority-owned (MBE/WBEs) businesses when bidding on our projects.
To assist MBE/WBEs in familiarizing themselves with how to properly bid complex jobs, Providence sponsors a contractor fair, where general contractors show emerging businesses how to bid competitively on big projects as well as how to write compelling business proposals.
Colors of Influence Winter 2009