How Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Can Influence the Healthcare Industry

Like many industries, healthcare is no stranger to the unique challenge of progressing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). While DEI is a cornerstone of any great company culture, in the healthcare industry especially, DEI affects more than just the organization—its influence impacts both employees and patients alike. Studies have shown, for example, that there is an implicit, unconscious bias in the healthcare industry towards white patients versus minority ones. As healthcare employers have a growing responsibility to improve upon DEI, it’s key that employers in the industry set specific DEI goals. 

However, progress in DEI in healthcare has a long way to go. Our studies show that just 24% of employees feel their organizations have done nothing to improve DEI, whereas 28% of healthcare employers view improving DEI as one of their top 3 priorities for this year and 43% believe their DEI efforts have increased in the last 12 months. The COVID-19 pandemic has exasperated the challenges in healthcare with DEI—100% of healthcare employers feel the pandemic has affected their DEI efforts. 

At the same time, healthcare employees and recruits are demanding a more inclusive, diverse culture from their companies. Where 40% of these employees have asked their employers for insights into their organizations’ DEI strategies, 23% of employees say their employers haven’t communicated with them about DEI, and just 25% were introduced to their employer’s DEI initiatives during the hiring process. 

With 43% of healthcare employers aiming to achieve their DEI goals within the next 2 years, there are actionable steps employers can take to consistently improve upon DEI in their sectors. 

Source: The State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts: Progress, Priorities, and Opportunities

Communicate your DEI goals and initiatives

As 87% of healthcare employers actively recruiting for open roles, it’s crucial that you communicate your DEI strategy not only across your organization but also to hiring candidates. When employees understand the organization-wide reach of your DEI objectives, they’re in a better position to help you achieve those goals, especially your recruiting teams. Ensure that DEI policies, strategy updates, and resources are accessible to all and that they’re integrated into your recruiting program. 

  • Thirty-one percent of healthcare employers are prioritizing alignment between HR goals and broader organizational goals, aiding in the communication of DEI efforts
  • Seventy-one percent of healthcare employers say that existing employees request insights and information for their DEI strategies, while 53% say candidates ask for the same information
  • Whereas 62% of healthcare employers say they share their DEI efforts and initiatives across company-wide channels, only 21% of healthcare employees agree. 
  • Similarly, just 29% of healthcare employees claim DEI efforts were highlighted during their interview process with their employer, and only 25% were introduced to DEI initiatives during their onboarding. And yet, 56% of healthcare employers we surveyed said they share information around their DEI efforts during recruitment. 
  • Fifty percent of healthcare employers surveyed in our 2021 DEI Report say communicating their DEI efforts and progress to their employees offers the most room for improvement, but 24% of employees believe other organizational goals take precedent over DEI in their organizations. 
  • Thirteen percent of healthcare employees feel one of the greatest challenges facing their organizations is internal communication about DEI. 
  • Meanwhile, 33% of healthcare employees feel their organizations have made some headway with DEI, but have a long way to go to achieve their goals. 

Measure the success of your DEI initiatives 

Tracking the progress of your DEI initiatives is key to understanding both the success of your DEI strategy and the gaps or areas in need of improvement. Though many healthcare employers and recruitment professionals recognize the need for measuring DEI goals, our 2021 DEI Report shows that just 39% of employers plan to measure the success of ongoing DEI objectives. Start by identifying a few key areas where DEI can be improved in your organization, then create goals your team can work towards over a set period and measure the progress of those goals as you go. 

  • Thirty-seven percent of healthcare employers feel measuring their DEI efforts poses an opportunity for improvement.
  • When measuring DEI, 65% of healthcare employers we surveyed use hiring results, 68% use employee experience surveys, and 50% use employee demographics, 43% use regular check-ins with existing employees, and 34% use retention rates.
  • Forty percent of healthcare employers are leveraging compensation increases and promotion rates to help measure their DEI efforts, while just 25% leverage insights from offboarding interviews.
  • In contrast, only 23% of healthcare employees believe their employers use hiring results to measure DEI at their organizations, while 32% believe employee demographics are being leveraged, and 33% believe their employers are using employee experience survey insights.
  • Only 25% of healthcare employees see their employers leveraging additional employee surveys to help measure progress of DEI efforts
  • Just 8% of healthcare employees believe their employers use data and insights to uncover biases in their recruiting, where 31% of healthcare employers are using data to do so. 
Source: The State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts: Progress, Priorities, and Opportunities

Audit your existing recruitment practices

In recruiting, DEI matters. And, in healthcare, ensuring that you integrate DEI practices into your hiring processes is crucial. One of the first steps you can take towards improving DEI in your organization is to audit your existing recruitment practices and determine any gaps in your hiring practices so you can ensure they’re both fair and inclusive. To perform a baseline audit, look first at each element of your recruiting process—including job descriptions, candidate outreach, employee experience surveys, and more—and note any gaps or inconsistencies where DEI may be lacking. Having this foundational understanding of your existing practices will help you choose the right areas to improve or work on to achieve DEI initiatives.

  • Fifty percent of healthcare employers say their top challenge in meeting their DEI goals is the difficulty in sourcing diverse candidates, while 50% say it’s difficult to find time to prioritize DEI on top of other responsibilities. 
  • Seventy-five percent of healthcare employers feel that changes in hiring, onboarding, and training processes offer the largest room for improvement in DEI. 
  • When it comes to recruiting at large, only 37% of healthcare employers are proactively sourcing candidates from nontraditional backgrounds; 50% are optimizing job descriptions to eliminate bias, and 31% are leveraging data insights to uncover unconscious biases in their hiring processes. 
  • Contrastly, only 16% of healthcare employees believe their employers source candidates from nontraditional backgrounds, and just 24% feel their employers use inclusive language in job postings. 
  • Forty-three percent of healthcare employers are posting open roles in nontraditional outlets, while 31% are standardizing interview questions and rubrics to mitigate unconscious bias. 
  • Just 28% of healthcare employers involve diverse stakeholders in their hiring and interviewing processes, while only 25% use anonymous resume reviews. 
  • Meanwhile, 46% of healthcare employers are making actionable changes to their hiring and recruiting processes, and 53% plan on formalizing their DEI strategy. 
  • Twenty-one percent of healthcare employees believe their employers have made actionable changes to their hiring processes for DEI, while 22% feel their employers are formalizing a DEI strategy. 
  • Twenty-four percent of healthcare employees feel the biggest challenge their organizations face regarding DEI is a higher prioritization of other company goals. 
  • Only 25% of healthcare employees are confident their organizations will reach their DEI goals in the next two years. 

Make your recruiting process a foundation for change 

At Lever, we’re committed to providing you with the tools you need to attract, nurture, and retain diverse talent in your organization. We surveyed over 500 HR decision-makers and 1,000 employees to determine the state of DEI in 2021—and we break down the results in our latest Report. Explore new strategies for improving DEI in your organization today and beyond with our 2021 State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Report. 

Download the Report