Hawaii - Pacific Chapter of ACHE Mobile - Spring 2016 Edition

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Diversity Programs: Effectiveness through Transparency and Accountability

Charlotte Hildebrand, FACHE

In its January 4, 2016 edition, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) published an article that shows how diversity programs and policies fail to improve the overall diversity of organizations. The article entitled, “Diversity Policies Rarely Make Companies Fairer, and They Feel Threatening to White Men,” references a recent study that reviewed the diversity programs of 700 U.S. companies. The findings of the study showed that diversity programs do not necessarily increase minorities and women in organizations, and that they may strain relationships with the dominant group who feel that systems are generally fair. The article offers two recommendations for managers:

  1. “appreciate the potential effect of diversity messages on groups that have traditionally been favored in organizations” and
  2.  “know the limits of diversity initiatives for minorities and women.”  In order to help women and minorities thrive in environments that support diversity, accountability is key to maximize effectiveness.

If you are interested in reading more, here is a link to the article: https://hbr.org/2016/01/diversity-policies-dont-help-women-or-minorities-and-they-make-white-men-feel-threatened
ACHE also shares some interesting resources that center on the 2014 ACHE “Racial/Ethnic Comparison of Career Attainments in Healthcare Management.” It is one of five studies ACHE conducted that started in 1992.  It holds nothing back and is surprisingly transparent along four main sections: demographic comparisons, career outcomes, accounting for different career outcomes, and recommended best practices. For example, in the career outcomes section, the study shows that, in calendar year 2013, white males earned a median of $190,000. Hispanic males earned a median of $157,700 (17 percent less than white men) and black and Asian men earned a median of $142,500 (25 percent less than white men). The salaries of Hispanic, Asian and black men are closer to those of white men in the 2014 study than in the 2008 study--when they differed by 21 percent, 34 percent and 30 percent, respectively. White women also earned 25 percent less than white men (also a median of $142,500).  Asian women earned 11 percent less than white women (a median of $127, 500) and black and Hispanic women both earned 21 percent less than white women (a median of $112,500). This represents a smaller salary gap between white and Asian women than was found in the 2008 study.

Best practices offered in the report include equal pay for equal work, mentorship programs, and residencies and fellowships offered to people of diverse backgrounds. These offer alternatives to diversity programs and policies that have been shown to be less effective in the HBR article.  The full ACHE report is accessible online from: http://www.ache.org/pubs/research/raceandgender.cfm#Gender.
A webinar summarizing the highlights of ACHE’s 2016-2018 Strategic Plan and ACHE’s proposed Executive Leadership Diversity initiative is another resource. The Executive Leadership Diversity Initiative calls for ACHE to take a leadership role in helping to advance diverse healthcare executives by forming sustainable partnerships, engaging stakeholders, activating a call to action, and building an executive diversity road map.  The report is available at


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