Why diversity in healthcare is nothing without inclusion

Posted on 10 August 2021

Diversity and inclusion are two words we hear a lot in healthcare. As the patient population in the UK becomes increasingly diverse, our healthcare settings must reflect that to provide the best level of care. The issue is that while there’s a lot of focus on diversity, less is said about inclusion. In fact, some see the two as interchangeable, which is far from correct. 

Many healthcare organisations have embraced diversity and made it part of their mission, vision, and core values. Broadly speaking, a diverse workforce does not discriminate against individuals or groups in regards to gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, age, culture, socioeconomic status, educational background and more. 

Welcoming people from all backgrounds and walks of life is one thing, but how are they treated once they get there? That’s where inclusion comes in. 

Diversity without inclusion is exclusion

In short, inclusion is not just being present but being part of things. It goes beyond hiring to ensure a certain mix of employees to hiring someone for what they offer and the value they can add. If employee contributions are not acknowledged or valued, the organisation risks losing them. 

In ourlast blog, we looked at the importance of creating a sense of belonging in the workplace. Inclusion goes a step further, ensuring that every employee’s voice is heard and they are involved in any key decisions that impact the way they work. 

So, how can healthcare employers create a workplace that fosters equity and inclusivity? Here are some areas of focus:

Provide opportunities to be heard 

Telling employees that you ‘listen’ is one thing, but demonstrating it in a busy healthcare setting can be challenging. One-on-one conversations with line managers are a given but are not always possible, so you need to create multiple avenues of communication. 

Some organisations use anonymous suggestion boxes which ask employees to offer feedback on anything they think can be improved. If you go down this route, it’s important to state what kind of suggestion box it is. Keep it too general, and you run the risk of no one using it. For example, if you’re concerned about negative workplace culture, you’re not going to express it in the same place where people complain about leaky taps or broken vending machines. 

Involving organisational leaders in employee discussions demonstrates that their concerns and suggestions are being taken seriously. Whether you schedule regular group listening sessions or conduct larger, more formal town hall-style meetings, opening up avenues for dialogue will go a long way in helping your employees feel acknowledged. 

Take action

Listening is pointless without action. If employees share their concerns or suggestions about culture or working practices, make sure you take the appropriate steps to address issues and make improvements. You must communicate these steps to the wider team, even if action cannot be taken right away.

Communicating is vital as it not only demonstrates to the people who have spoken up that you’re taking their matters seriously, but it also reassures those who haven’t that they are welcome to in the future. 

Conduct frequent temperature checks

Inclusion isn’t something that happens overnight, nor is it something that can be solved and never returned to again. Conducting regular employee satisfaction surveys which include questions relating to culture and inclusion can help identify any underlying issues that haven’t been brought to your attention. 

Additionally, employers should carry out audits on staff retention figures and career development, focusing on diverse employees to ensure there isn’t an issue with progression for certain individuals and groups that needs to be addressed. 

The goal for every healthcare organisation should be to have diverse talent and create an environment where they are appreciated and valued. Additionally, by elevating every voice in the workforce, employers will go a long way in building a robust internal pipeline of diverse talent that’s ready and willing to advance into senior positions when they become available.

Need some support? 

If you’re an employer looking for help recruiting and retaining outstanding healthcare professionals who will excel in your healthcare setting, speak to a member of the T2 Healthcare team today. Call us on 0203 002 6305 for a no-obligation chat, or emailinfo@t2healthcare.com.

Share this article