As current events and the Black Lives Matter movement spark introspection and action among businesses nationwide, the ambulatory surgery center (ASC) industry too is taking a hard look at best practices for diversity and inclusion. And while the issue is breaking news today, MedHQ’s Chief Operating Officer Rita Hernandez Figi believes a long-term approach, creating a new mindset and programs, will be critical to driving lasting change. She took a moment recently to discuss several key D&I questions:
Q: Do most businesses know the difference between diversity, equity, and inclusion?
A: No. In fact, I do not believe all businesses even realize that the terms have different meanings. For example, a company’s employee demographics may show X percent diversity, but that stat does not equate to equality and inclusion. I counsel businesses to look at ways to give everyone a voice across their business processes, not just through one avenue such as a call center. It’s not all about numbers: How do you include your diverse population? How do you make sure everyone is given opportunity to succeed?
Q: How prevalent is unconscious bias and what can be done about it?
A: Unconscious bias is very prevalent, among all groups and businesses. Think in terms of how you relate to people. Have you ever considered not inviting someone to a social gathering of “some” employees? Do you ever say: “Let’s not invite A because they never come, or they don’t fit in or this is not their thing?” Those kinds of decisions stem from an attitude of exclusion that is unconscious but can be damaging. Think carefully about who you invite to a given function, like a golf outing or a conference, and try to avoid assumptions that may not be accurate.
Q: What are some of the benefits businesses realize from diversity?
A: Key among the benefits is an expanded ability to relate to all groups. A diverse population, when given voice, can have a positive impact on how you do business, how you include people – employees, customers, clients – and in turn, on their opinions and experiences with you. How do your employees interact with patients coming into your surgery center, and how can you invite more interaction?
Q: What are some of the conversations you are having?
A: Our conversations are about everything related to diversity and inclusion right now, but it’s really important to think beyond today’s news. What more can your ASC do? What more can you personally do? How do we change for the long term? It is not enough to say “I support.” It’s important to realize that support means taking action for the long term and having conversations that may not always be easy or comfortable. What do you vow to do, beginning today, that will have lasting impact through the years ahead?
Q: What are the most important things business leaders can focus on over the next 3 months?
A: One key to true change is to focus not only on the next 3 months, but on the long term. Set a budget for training – not a one-time event, but an on-going program and curriculum – and make it a part of your culture. Create business plans that recognize your diverse population and empower employees to do more by training, encouraging and supporting change. Don’t just check the box, find ways to keep the positive momentum going over the long-term.
Q: How is MedHQ changing the way it does business?
A: We are a diverse and inclusive organization, and we are always looking for ways to broaden our impact with our clients. We are providing training programs and webinars for ourselves and for our clients, and we’re always looking for broader programs to offer. We have ongoing conversations on what more we can do, including working with National Association of Professional Employment Organizations (NAPEO) on a broader discussion for our industry at the national level. MedHQ has also launched an initiative we call Heart of the Business. In this initiative, we are working with organizations both inside and outside MedHQ, including our clients, on developing resources and best practices around individual and organizational wellness. These initiatives can help people overcome the uncomfortable feelings that coincide with significant change. In addition, this initiative is an effort to fundraise for the American Heart Association.
For more information on how MedHQ can help your ASC improve diversity and inclusion, contact us.