Winter 2017
Greater Charlotte Healthcare Executives Group (GCHEG) Quarterly Newsletter Winter 2017
In This Issue
President's Message
Greetings from your Chapter President
Membership and Advancement
Congratulations New Fellows!
Welcome New GCHEG Members
ACHE National News
National News Q4 2017
North Carolina Regent Message
Message from Your ACHE Regent
Career Articles
Bring Out the Most in Your Employees: 10 Tips for Managers
GCHEG Member Submitted Articles
2017 GCHEG Scholarship Winners Announced
Scholars Selected for ACHE's Thomas C. Dolan Executive Diversity Program
White Men as Full Diversity Partners
Young Health Leaders Summit
MACRA: The Quick Facts
Attitude Starts with Leadership
A Pledge to Excellence in Healthcare Leadership
Optimizing Your Potential: Healthcare Careerist Panel and Discussion Event
Articles of Interest
Ransomware Tops List of Health Technology Safety Hazards
Upcoming Events
2018 Day of Service
Staying Connected
Engaging with GCHEG on Social Media
Email deliverability
Ensure delivery of Chapter E-newsletter (Disclaimer)
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Member Submitted Articles
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GCHEG Member Submitted Articles
White Men as Full Diversity Partners
Submitted By: Nikki Nissen, RN, MSN
Some organizations prioritize diversity and inclusion as a vital business concern. While others consider it a critical workplace equity issue, it is actually a mix of both.

Novant Health recognized that the bottom line is the commitment must come from the top. And in more than 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies, the top spot is occupied by white men.

With that in mind, Tanya Blackmon, executive vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer, invited Carl Armato, CEO and president of Novant Health, to attend the White Men’s Caucus. This caucus is organized by White Men as Full Diversity Partners, an Oregon-based diversity consulting firm. 

The company’s name is intended to spark conversation, and it gets to the heart of the organization’s mission: to prompt business leaders to make their workplaces more inclusive and diverse. The firm does this through active workshops and other programs and has worked with more than 100 Fortune 500 companies worldwide.

Carl invited 16 Novant Health white male executives to participate. One of those leaders, was John Phipps, MD, executive vice president and president of the Novant Health Medical Group. Dr. Phipps was excited to share his experience with us:


·       At Novant Health, a demonstration of strong leadership is integral to embedding diversity and inclusion across our organization.  Is that why you, the executive vice president and president of the Novant Health Medical Group, agreed to participate in the white men caucus? 


[John]  I agreed to participate because I believe in the need for real change as it relates to diversity and inclusion and I trust those leading the effort, specifically Tanya Blackmon and Carl Armato. Put another way, I agreed to participate because Carl and Tanya asked me to.


[Denise] I was asked to participate in the White Men and Allies Caucus in October 2017. I heard about Carl’s White Men’s Caucus and was intrigued and curious. I was kind of offended that I was not asked to participate in the original caucus. I felt excluded and did not think that an all-white-men’s caucus was very inclusive!  What I later learned was that there were two different types of labs – White Men’s Caucus and the White Men and Allies Caucus. I was happy to learn there was a lab that included women and people of color. I believe we all must be more aware and more intentional when it comes to diversity and inclusion. It will not happen on its own without the intervention and purposeful acts of competent and sensitive leaders.


·       What did you learn about white male privilege?


[John] White male privilege acknowledges the obvious truth that as a white man I have experienced life differently and in many ways easier than women and those of other races. There are favorable assumptions made about me based on my status as a white male. I think this is true walking down the street, socially, in the practice of medicine and in business.


[Denise] I learned a lot about white male privilege, something I had not given much thought to before. I now understand the privilege is often invisible to the white male and it is deeply rooted in our cultures. I learned there are also white women privileges as well, for example, our access and ability to influence white men. I believe it is a social phenomenon which keeps perpetuating itself and requires me to raise my own consciousness and awareness about how I think, my assumptions and biases, and how I respond and act.


·       What was your biggest aha moment from this experience?


[John]  My biggest aha moment was embracing the idea that I am not at fault but I am still accountable. In other words, I did not create white male privilege but I am accountable for how I engage with others and for promoting diversity and inclusion in all areas of my life.


[Denise] My biggest aha moment was realizing I am privileged as a white woman, purely by association. I recognized that in my career, I have had advantages just because I am a white woman and was allowed to be “at the table.”  My people-of-color counterparts were not even invited to the room. I now feel it is my responsibility to increase awareness and invite, make room for, open the door, or in some cases kick in the door so all women and people of color have a seat at the table.


·       What impact do you think that white male privilege has on the delivery of inclusive and equitable healthcare?


[John]  It is still true that most physicians are white males and likely feel somewhat more comfortable with patients that look like them. In order to provide better care for all patients, there is a need to learn, communicate, understand and empathize with patients from diverse backgrounds so that the care can be most effective.


[Denise] I think our society, our medical education programs, and our healthcare facilities have been greatly influenced by white male privilege. Our healthcare providers and leaders often do not reflect the tapestry of the communities we serve. We have a large white-employee pool even though our communities are rapidly shifting to minorities becoming the majority. I am not saying that a white male doctor cannot effectively care for a nonwhite patient. I am saying that we need to work together to intentionally attract diverse team members, to broaden our knowledge base, to help us learn new ways of understanding  our patients and to teach each other how to best heal our diverse populations (and each other). Building awareness within our organization is part of the journey to deliver inclusive and equitable healthcare. We do that through venues such as White Men’s Caucus and White Men and Allies Caucus Labs, our diversity and inclusion classes, the 12-month community program called Leadership Development Initiative.


It is human to have bias. But we must be more aware about biases and how they impact our actions. What biases did you become more aware of?

[John]  I am increasingly aware that I bring bias everywhere, mostly unconscious. I make assumptions that have nothing to do with being perceptive or picking up on nonverbal clues, but instead reflect biases I have based on everything from height to weight to clothes to gender to race and on and on.


[Denise] I never really thought about white male privilege. I did not know that I was privileged as a white woman. Not knowing cannot be an excuse. My bias was ignorance, not seeing or realizing the inequities and the pain my peers and friends of color have experienced. To hear the words of my greatly respected colleagues, explain the difficult conversations they have had with their children, the fears they have for their children’s safety and most impactful, their anger. I am no longer ignorant, nor silent.


·       What do you think the Novant Health Medical Group will need to do to continue to address systemic racism?


[John]  I think the most important thing to do is acknowledge that it is real and to communicate with one another.


[Denise] I think the most important thing for Novant Health to do to address systemic racism, sexism, etc. is to continue to raise awareness, heighten our sensitivity as leaders and strengthen our cultural competencies. And most importantly, continue the efforts to intentionally diversify our workforce with women, people of color and LGBTQ and people representing other dimensions of diversity.


To learn more about how Novant Health’s journey of embedding diversity and inclusion, please contact Nikki Nissen at To learn more about how your organization could participate in the White Men as Diversity Partners Labs, go to




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